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Which? warns on Ryanair currency tactics

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Which? has warned on Ryanair’s currency conversion pricing tactics and called on the aviation regulator to take action.

Ryanair’s system displays the price of a ticket in the currency of the departure airport. For instance, if a customer is buying a flight from France or Italy back to the UK, the fare is advertised in euros. On payment, the airline converts the price into pounds with the exchange rate automatically applied.

Only after clicking “more information” do customers find the option to opt out of paying in pounds and revert to euros.

This ‘dynamic currency conversion’ system has seen families pay significantly more, says Which?. Ryanair warns that opting out could end up costing “significantly more”.

In a spot check, Which? Travel found a journey from Alicante to London Stansted for a family of four advertised as €565.81. At the point of paying, Ryanair switched the currency to pounds. The total fare became £526.97, an exchange rate of 93p per euro. On the same day, Visa had an exchange rate of 88p per euro.

Among the other family fares Which? Travel analysed, one from Venice to Stansted cost an extra £26.40, while a journey from Nice to the same airport added an extra £21 when the currency conversion was applied.

Over all the journeys that Which? Travel examined, the exchange rate inflated fares by around 6 per cent on average.

Aer Lingus is the only other major carrier to switch currencies at the check-out, but Aer Lingus makes this switch – and the cost implications – far clearer and the exchange rates are generally better.

Which? has previously reported Ryanair’s use of dynamic currency conversion to the Civil Aviation Authority, saying the tactic is misleading and could be in breach of consumer protection legislation.

Caroline Normand, Which? director of advocacy said: “This cynical and misleading pricing trick is one of the clearest examples of a rip-off we have seen – but Ryanair has been allowed to get away with it due to a lack of action from the Civil Aviation Authority.

“If the regulator is committed to helping improve the experience of passengers, it must clamp down on this practice before thousands more holidaymakers are caught out this summer.”

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