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Jetstar opts-in to travel tricks

Consumer groups say travellers risk being shanghaied by the airlines into costly automatic opt-ins during the online booking process

13 July 2015

A trans-Tasman alliance of consumer groups is taking aim at the airlines over automatic opt-ins that can see travellers paying up to 67% more than the advertised price when booking flights.  

Consumer advocacy groups CHOICE and Consumer NZ have joined forces to campaign against the practice, inviting consumers to send a message to the CEO of one of the worst offenders - Jetstar. 

"We think Jetstar's CEO David Hall needs to hear from consumers. No matter what side of the Tasman you're on, this practice is shonky," says Matt Levey, Director of Campaigns & Communications at CHOICE.

"Websites shouldn't be designed to trick consumers into paying for extras that they don't want or need. From pricey travel insurance to $5 seat selection fees and sky high baggage tariffs, Jetstar has you cornered."i    

"Jetstar's auto options will leave you travelling $36 lighter on a typical flight from Sydney to Melbourne - hardly a great start to your holiday. Making matters worse, the insurance Jetstar auto selects is far from the best value in the market[1]," says Mr Levey.

"It is time that Jetstar follows Qantas and Air New Zealand and puts a stop to this dodgy practice."

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin says "Jetstar is now the only major domestic carrier in New Zealand that still has optional extras preselected, with Air Zealand bowing to pressure from the New Zealand Commerce Commission earlier this year to remove its preselected travel insurance."

"Jetstar's practice of pre-ticking boxes for optional extras risked misleading customers on both sides of the Tasman into paying for services they didn't want. 

"Jetstar's booking process marks it out as a prime offender in New Zealand and Australia for pre-selecting optional services. In both markets, it uses the same sneaky practice of ticking boxes for travel insurance, seat selection and extra bags. It's high time Jetstar stopped confusing its Kiwi and Aussie customers and ditched the ticks." 

The campaign comes on the back of research from CHOICE showing that over 26% of travellers have experienced problems with booking travel online. Problems include unexpected fees, difficulties booking and wrong preferences delivered.ii

[1] CHOICE 2014 review

Comparison of preselected optional extras by Australian airlines  

Table 1: The cost of pre-ticked boxes: A Sydney to Melbourne flight with preselected optional extras left selected.





Advertised price





Travel insurance






Free - 23Kg included

$17 for 20Kg

Free - 23Kg included

$20 for 20Kg

Seating - Standard


$5 to choose a seat (free for randomly assigned seats)


$5 to choose a seat (free for randomly assigned seats)

Charity donation





Final price (with preselected boxes left ticked)





Difference between advertised and final price





Percentage difference between advertised and final price





i. One way trip Sydney to Melbourne for Wednesday 9th September 2015. Lowest cost ticket selected for each airline. Reviewed on the 24/06/2015 between 11:45am – 1pm. Preselected optional extras left as offered, or if the option had nothing preselected then no was selected, e.g. QANTAS travel insurance offering nothing is selected, the customer needs to select either yes or no, in this case it is not included as a preselected optional extra.

ii. CHOICE survey data sourced via CHOICE conducted nationally representative quantitative survey of 1,100 Australian travellers aged 18-75 years. All survey participants had travelled internationally for holidays in the past 12 months and all had travelled domestically in the past.

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