High court rules OTA screen scraping is illegal

Ryanair Boeing 737-800 (Image: Max Thrust Digital)
Ryanair Boeing 737-800 (Image: Max Thrust Digital)

Ireland’s High Court released a ruling yesterday declaring so-called “screen scraping” by Online Travel Agents (OTAs) illegal, a practice than often results in customers being overcharged.

Several websites such as Kiwi.com, eDreams, trip.com and Super Saver are known to use the practice which sees them booking flights and extras for airlines often using made-up customer accounts rather than genuine customer details.

One of the airlines that have been campaigning to stop the practice is budget airline Ryanair which welcomed the court ruling.

It has it has found customers being overcharged by over 200% for extras such as baggage and premium boarding, and even charged for things that didn’t even exist.

Image: Ryanair Corporate (tap to enlarge)

Speaking following the ruling Ryanair’s Dara Brady said: “We welcome this High Court ruling which established that this screenscraper is bound by the Terms of Use of the Ryanair website, which prohibits screenscraping. Ryanair has been granted a permanent injunction to stop this unlawful screencraping of Ryanair’s data in breach of Ryanair’s Terms of Use. The Ryanair website is the only website authorised to sell Ryanair flights.

“OTAs have for years relied upon screenscrapers (such as Flightbox), fake customer accounts, single-use payment cards and fake customer email addresses to make bookings on Ryanair’s website in breach of the Terms of Use. This can cause huge inconvenience and expense to customers as often OTAs not only overcharge for fares, bags and seats, but they also block customers from managing their bookings or receiving important flight updates from Ryanair (such as online check-in reminders).

“This historic High Court ruling has reinforced Ryanair’s determination to pursue justice for our customers to ensure they get access to the lowest fares, cannot be overcharged by OTAs, and that they have direct access to manage their bookings and to receive up to date flight information.

Ryanair does not have a commercial relationship with any OTA or screenscraper and we strongly object to OTAs mis-selling our flights and overcharging consumers. We encourage our customers to book directly with us through ryanair.com or our mobile app.

As well as customers being overcharged, passing fake customer accounts, rather than the actual customer contact details, means customers can’t be contacted by the airline if changes to their flight occur and could also prevent you from claiming compensation for delays and cancellations.

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