(CN) – If an airline knows that a travel-booking website tacks commissions for itself onto reservations, the airline must reimburse those fees in the event of a canceled flight, the European Union’s high court ruled Wednesday.
A local court in Hamburg, Germany, had put this issue to the European Court of Justice earlier this year when considering a suit by Dirk Harms, his wife and their four children.
Using the website opodo.de, Harms bought tickets to fly the family from Hamburg to Faro, Portugal, via Barcelona, Spain.
Vueling Airlines ultimately canceled the flight, however, and reimbursed Harms the amount that had been transferred to it by Vueling Airlines: €1,031.88. This, as it turned out, however, was €77 short what Harms had paid Opodo.
Vueling denies that it is responsible for reimbursing any amount that an intermediary collects as a commission, but the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice said further proceedings are required to determine if it the commission was set without the knowledge of the air carrier.
“A component of the price of the ticket which is set without the knowledge of the air carrier cannot be regarded as necessary in order to avail of the service proposed by the air carrier,” the ruling from the Eighth Chamber states.
Otherwise, the court added, the commission must be considered part of the ticket price.