‘JustFly is not in the travel business. They’re in the hidden fee business.’
SAN FRANCISCO (Sept. 19, 2019) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today announced he has filed suit against the companies that operate the online travel sites JustFly and FlightHub for unlawful and deceptive business practices.
The lawsuit, filed today in San Francisco Superior Court, lays out a stunning array of hidden fees, misleading disclosures and other scams employed by JustFly Corp. and its affiliates.
“JustFly is not in the travel business. They’re in the hidden fee business,” Herrera said. “Consumers deserve honest pricing. This company is set up to soak customers with hidden fees, like a seat assignment fee that doesn’t actually guarantee you an assigned seat. You should get the service you pay for, and the price that you’re shown should be the price that you pay. We are going to use all of our power under the law to ensure that happens. California consumers deserve no less.”
The JustFly website is a major destination for consumers who search for flights via fare aggregators, like Kayak.com. JustFly.com is the second most popular destination website from searches on Kayak.com.
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the People of the State of California and covers wrongdoing statewide. Among the deceptive and unlawful practices outlined in the civil complaint are that JustFly:
- charges customers a hidden seat assignment fee. Customers aren’t told about the fee, and then they often don’t actually get an assigned seat.
- deceives customers into believing that they can cancel a flight for free within 24 hours of booking, which is the industry standard. Instead, JustFly charges undisclosed cancellation fees of $75 to $200 per flight, even when customers seek to cancel a reservation just minutes after making it.
- uses bait-and-switch advertising by promoting fares that are not actually available for purchase.
- repeatedly pressures customers to purchase third-party travel insurance that is largely useless for customers and a profit center for JustFly.
- steers customers into receiving “Future Travel Credits” that come with so many absurd limitations and requirements that they routinely expire unused.
- fails to make a wide range of disclosures required by California and federal law, including about refund obligations, cancellation conditions, total prices, baggage fees, and travel insurance. These required disclosures are all designed to inform and protect consumers.
“JustFly’s web site is misleading,” said Carole Stewart Rogers of Desert Hot Springs, Calif. “It states that you can cancel your flight reservation within 24 hours for free. I canceled two reservations within minutes and got hit with a $150 fee. That’s false advertising.”
“I was surprised and frustrated with my experience trying to cancel my flight to Sri Lanka in 2017,” said Bogdan Haiducu of San Francisco, who was improperly charged a cancelation fee when canceling a flight within 24 hours. He had to contest the charge with his credit card company. “Afterward, I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, but I didn’t expect anything to happen. When the City Attorney’s Office reached out to me, I wanted to speak out to help ensure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else. I believe those affected deserve a fair resolution.”
The lawsuit alleges the defendant companies violated several laws, including California’s unfair competition law, which prohibits unlawful, fraudulent and unfair business practices. The lawsuit also maintains that the defendants violated California’s Seller of Travel Law, which is one of the few laws in the country expressly designed to protect travel customers from unscrupulous travel agents like JustFly.
Herrera is seeking restitution to consumers for all money that the defendant companies received through unlawful business practices; a civil penalty of $2,500 against each defendant for each violation of state law; and a court order putting a stop to these practices.
The case is: People of the State of California v. JustFly Corp. et al., San Francisco Superior Court case number CGC-19-579328, filed Sept. 19, 2019. More information can be found on the City Attorney’s website: www.sfcityattorney.org