Marketers should ensure ads for flights include the name of the departure and destination airport, rather than just the country or region, if the omission of this information is likely to mislead consumers. This is particularly important in the ‘no frills’ sector, where some airlines fly to airports that are smaller and sometimes located some distance from the main city or town, or where a location is served by more than one airport.
- Ensure consumers know what you’re promoting
Marketing communications that do not state clearly all information a consumer is likely to need in order to make an informed decision are likely to be considered misleading. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled against a press ad for Flybe, which stated “Flybe’s Massive January Sale” and listed 70 destinations with their corresponding prices, because it omitted the departure airports to which the prices applied (Flybe Ltd, 6 April 2011).
- Consider the distance between the airport and the capital or main city
The ASA has upheld complaints about ads for flights to Venice, Stockholm and Oslo, because they were actually to Treviso, Skavsta and Torp, respectively (Ryanair Ltd, September 1998 and November 1998). In the case of the flights to Skavsta and Torp, the complainant objected that the airports were approximately 50 miles from the capitals. The ASA also ruled against an ad which implied a flight departed from Lyon, because it flew from St Etienne (Ryanair Ltd, 3 December 2003).
Conversely, the ASA did not uphold a complaint about an ad stating “Dusseldorf £10 one way…Weeze – only 70 KM from Dusseldorf”! The ASA noted that Weeze was listed as an airport which served Dusseldorf and considered the claim to have been qualified appropriately in the ad (Ryanair Ltd, 14 July 2010).
- Take particular care when a city is served by more than one airport
If a flight’s departure or destination city is served by more than one airport, the ad should clearly state the relevant airport names. The ASA upheld a complaint that an ad stating “THREE-DAY SALE Algarve-Faro, Nice & Palma-Mallorca from/one way £10* incl taxes” along with a travel and booking period was misleading because it did not state that flights departed from London Gatwick only (Norwegian Air Shuttle, 16 April 2014).
- Consider when it may be acceptable to omit airport names
If the departure or destination city is served by only one airport and the airport is in, or close to, the city, it is likely to be considered acceptable to omit the airport names. Claims such as “Birmingham to Gibraltar £100 return” and “Manchester to Malta £50 one way”, for example, are likely to be considered acceptable.
Ads for flights which state only a region as the departure or destination may also be considered acceptable if the airline serves all airports in that region and price claims and any other information in the ad applies to flights to and from each airport in the stated region (easyJet Airline Co Ltd, 10 June 2009).
- Beware of denigrating other airlines
The ASA considered that an easyJet ad which stated “Who loves flying you to the place you actually booked?” was misleading and denigratory, because it implied Ryanair misled customers and flew them to airports other than those they had booked (easyJet Airline Co Ltd, 3 March 2010). See Comparisons: General and Denigration for more information.
Source: Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)
Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the ASA. CAP’s AdviceOnline entries provide guidance on interpreting the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.
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