Booking fees, questions, lawyers and Webjet

Flight booking fees – now eliminated at Zuji and Expedia – appear to be a sensitive topic at Webjet, which charges up to $49.90 in fees to process international airline bookings ($29.95 processing fee, $19.95 price guarantee), and $29.90 for domestic airfares ($19.95 processing fee, $9.95 price guarantee).

Lawyer Paul Zawa from Minter Ellison got in touch with on behalf of Webjet with a six-page Letter of Demand in relation to coverage on this site and elsewhere. Long story short, I responded with a series of questions which Webjet refused to answer. Several concerned Webjet’s “Price Guarantee” which it appears to have introduced for airline bookings in 2005.

The “Price Guarantee” was initially $1 per sector but has since risen to a flat $9.95 – an increase of 995% in four or five years – and now applies to “any hotel, car rental or insurance product booked at the same time” as an airfare. In 2005, Webjet also charged a $6.95 “service fee” for flight bookings. This “processing fee” now costs at least $19.95 – an increase of almost 300% . Questions included:

What is the justification for charging significantly higher fees on international flights as opposed to domestic flights?
 Please clarify that international airlines pay Online Travel Agents a commission for selling their product while domestic carriers do not.
 (CEO) David Clarke recently told Travel Today that Webjet’s booking fees will rise not fall. Please elaborate.
 What percentage of Webjet’s turnover is generated by booking fees?
 How much money was generated last financial year by the seat price guarantee?

Webjet lawyer Paul Zawa responded: “We are not the spokespersons for our clients. However, we have forwarded your questions to Webjet. We are instructed that Webjet does not intend to respond.”

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