Budget airline in "misleading advertising" shocker, part 74

21 January 2009

We're thinking of creating an automatic response generator for the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA). Instead of bothering to consider complaints against budget airlines who are inevitably found guilty of breaking advertising rules, they can pay a chimpanzee to type a couple of details into the generator and produce the findings without wasting any valuable thought on the matter:

Step 1 - Fill out form below:

The ASA noted [insert airline name] believed they had complied with the CAP Code and had tried to avoid making claims that had been identified as problematic in previous adjudications. We considered however that readers were likely to infer from the claim [insert headline] that [insert airline name] were offering "free" flights.  We considered flights could not be advertised as "free" if consumers had to pay non-optional taxes and duties.  Because we understood that consumers would have to pay taxes and duties, we concluded that the implication that the flights were "free" was misleading

Step 2 - Press F4 to update website

Step 3 - Eat bananas and fling faeces at the window

The latest budget airline to advertise flights in a misleading manner is Aer Lingus, who couldn't understand how anybody could read the headline "NO AER FARE" and assume the flights would be free. Idiots, they assumed, incorrectly:

Aer Lingus said the ad clearly communicated that no air fare was payable, as indicated by the claim "NO AER FARE".  Aer Lingus pointed out that the ad also clearly communicated that taxes and charges had to be paid: the text "Just pay taxes and charges" appeared immediately below the headline claim in large font.  They added that they had avoided claiming that flights were "free" or that the ad promoted a "flight giveaway" as they understood that would have gone against guidance.

The ASA disagreed, pointing out that people are more likely to read the headline as stating the flights would be free, which they weren't. The ASA also took issue with Aer Lingus failing to state the all-inclusive price of the flights, since the headline suggested the flights would be free. Which they weren't. Still.

How did the ASA deal with yet another example of budget airlines misleading the consumer? They may have slapped the backs of their legs with a ruler, but we haven't been told. Otherwise, nothing whatsoever. Look out for the next example of piss-taking going unpunished, coming soon.


  • Alex
    That seems pretty harsh to me - whilst I haven't seen the advert in question, if you couldn't move your eyes slightly down to read "just pay taxes and charges" (in large font) and not comprehend they might not be free before wildly rushing off to the website to book, I'm not sure you should be allowed to leave the country lest you paint the inhabitants of the UK as morons. Plus, since you were paying no money to Lingus, just taxes, there really was no "AER" fair, not only for the sake of the clever pun. I guess the ASA have to think of the *seriously* lowest common denominator...
  • Bob
    No worse than broadband suppliers calling stuff unlimited.
  • chrisg
    They will keep doing this until such point that it is legally recognised that the populous accepts that "free" flights are not really free.

What do you think?

Your comment