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Virgin, Jetstar stop pre-selecting extras

Virgin Australia has stopped automatically adding travel insurance to customers’ online airfare bookings in response to concerns by the consumer watchdog that travellers have been inadvertently paying for unwanted extras.

The airline made the change following talks with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and watchdog chairman Rod Sims has urged other domestic carriers to follow Virgin Australia’s lead.

Qantas does not automatically pre-select travel insurance, but Virgin Australia’s budget carrier Tigerair and Qantas’ no-frills Jetstar do.

“Experience overseas, including in New Zealand, shows consumers are more than capable of making purchasing decisions themselves,” Sims said in a statement on Thursday.

A Virgin Australia spokesperson said the change brought travel insurance into line with its other opt-in features such as extra baggage and premium seat selection.

UPDATED: 2/12/16 – 1100

Following yesterday’s announcement that Virgin Australia had decided to stop automatically adding travel insurance to customers’ online bookings, Jetstar has advised it plans to do the same.

As of 1 July 2017, Qantas’ budget carrier will stop pre-selecting extras, including baggage, seat selection, travel insurance and charity donations, on its online booking platforms. Qantas itself takes an opt in, rather than opt out approach.

While the ACCC would have preferred the change be made earlier, it welcomes Jetstar’s decision as a positive move for Australian consumers.

“The ACCC has been concerned that the ‘opt out’ model has seen a number of consumers unintentionally pay for unwanted ‘pre-ticked’ extras,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“Jetstar’s announcement is another step forward in the ACCC’s continuing effort to end pre-selection conduct in the Australian airline industry.”

“The ACCC will continue to engage with the remaining domestic airlines that still pre-select extras, and urge them to follow suit.”

“The ACCC will also turn its attention to international airlines operating within Australia which continue to pre-select extras,” Mr Sims said.

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