Twelve airlines, including easyJet and Ryanair, will no longer spring last-minute fees on customers paying by debit card, the Office of Fair Trading has said.
The carriers have agreed to include debit card surcharges in the headline ticket price rather than surprise consumers at the end of the booking process.
The airlines also agreed to make surcharges for credit cards clearer and easier to find during the booking process, the OFT added.
Aer Lingus, BMI Baby, Eastern Airways, easyJet, Flybe, German Wings, Jet2, Lufthansa, Ryanair, Thomas Cook, Thomson (TUI) and Wizz Air were subject to an OFT consumer law investigation and have agreed to change their practices.
Clive Maxwell, the OFT’s chief executive, said: “It is important that the cost presented when they search for a flight is realistic and that they are not surprised by extra charges.”
The will bring forward legislation to ban excessive debit and credit card surcharges, which cost airline passengers £300m a year.
The OFT said debit cards should not incur a surcharge online as they are the “online equivalent of cash” and so headline prices should be the price people pay.
However, the OFT said traders may still impose surcharges for credit cards, which can be more costly to process.
Eastern Airways, easyJet, Flybe, German Wings, Lufthansa, Thomas Cook, Thomson (TUI) and Wizz Air have already made changes to their pricing structures, websites and marketing materials.
Other airlines will change their advertising practices by 1 August and make further changes over the coming months.
Maxwell said: “We made it clear from the start that we would use all of our enforcement powers, including court action if necessary, but are pleased to have reached agreement with the airlines before court proceedings were required.”
The watchdog launched a 90-day investigation in March after a supercomplaint from the independent consumer body Which? highlighted consumer anger about increasingly widespread surcharges.