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Complaint upheld after Aer Lingus advert about cost for pet travel 'likely to mislead'

The ASAI determined that the advertisement should not reappear in the current format.

Image: Artur Widak via PA Images

THE ADVERTISING STANDARDS Authority of Ireland (ASAI) has upheld a complaint made against Aer Lingus over the advertised price for bringing pets on a flight. 

The complainant said that she had booked tickets for a European flight, with the intention of bringing her animal with her.

She said the information on aerlingus.com outlining costs for pet travel indicated that it cost €40 on regional flights and €160 on transatlantic flights.

The complainant said this created a range for the consumer that costs for pet travel within Europe would be between those two figures. 

However, on contacting a number of freight forwarders (a requirement for pet travel within Europe), she said she was quoted prices of around €1,000 per flight. 

The advertisement read: 

Aer Lingus – Travelling with pets. Your guide to flying with your beloved pet. If they’re part of the family, they can be part of the holiday! We understand how hard it can be to leave your beloved pet behind, so why not take him with you? With a range of options available, we can carry your beloved pet safely and ensure that its handled with care.

Information was also provided on conditions of travelling with pets. For flights within Europe, the advertisement stated that “pets must be booked through a freight forwarder”. 

For Aer Lingus regional flights, the advertisement stated that “at the time of booking, you must contact us if you plan to travel with a pet”.

It added: “A €40 fee per flight, per crate applies. At this time you will be advised of all restricted breeds for travel on an Aer Lingus regional flight. Note: If you didn’t book online, please contact us in order to book an animal in advance.”

Regarding transatlantic flights, it also outlined that “there is a €160 per flight sector, per crate, payable at the airport on the day of departure for cats & dogs travelling as excess baggage”.

The complainant also said that the advertisement linked to a named cargo company who advised the her that they only carried pets from London. She said no such information was available on the Aer Lingus website. 

Finally, the complainant said the four freight forwarders she contacted advised her that Aer Lingus doesn’t carry pets on weekends and that it doesn’t fly pets to her destination.

In a response to the ASAI, Aer Lingus said its website was “clear that anyone wishing to book their pet on a flight within Europe needed to contact a freight forwarder via the online form and they would then be contacted with the process and requirements to transfer their pet to the preferred destination”. 

The airline added that “the prices for pets travelling within Europe varied depending on the destination along with any restrictions”. It also said that each case was dealt with on an individual basis and that this was clearly stated on the website.

Determination

The ASAI noted that the costs for transporting pets on Aer Lingus regional flights and on transatlantic flights had been given on aerlingus.com and they considered that this could create an expectation in relation to a range of costs. 

They also considered that consumers would not expect the cost of transporting pets to Europe to be significantly higher than the transatlantic cost. 

While noting that the advertisers were not directly responsible for the costs, and that those costs varied by destination, the committee considered that “the absence of information that the range of costs for Aer Lingus regional and transatlantic flights were not indicative of likely costs within Europe was likely to mislead”.

The committee also considered that the advertisement should have indicated that the nominated freight forwarder only transported pets from London. 

Furthermore, the committee noted that there was no information on the website that exclusions would apply in relation to carrying pets at weekends nor that not all destinations on the network were available for pet travel. 

The ASAI committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Section 4.1 of the Code. 

It determined that the advertisement should not reappear in the current format.

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