SIA flip-flops again, this time on auto insurance feature for online booking

SIA has amended the booking flow to offer travel insurance as an 'opt-in', rather than 'opt out', feature. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Singapore Airlines (SIA) has removed an online booking feature that automatically includes travel insurance unless travellers opt out.

This is the second time in about a month that the airline has been forced to do a U-turn: the first one had to do with credit card fees.

Unhappiness about the travel insurance feature surfaced about two weeks ago after The Straits Times reported on complaints from SIA customers.

The airline said on Thursday (Feb 1): "SIA encourages customers to take up travel insurance to safeguard their travel plans.

"We have taken customer feedback into account, however, and have amended the booking flow on our website to offer travel insurance as an 'opt-in', rather than 'opt out', feature."

Before the change, once payment was made, asking for a refund was tedious, said those who realised they were charged for insurance only after their flight bookings were confirmed.

The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) had said then that it frowns upon such practices.

Its executive director Loy York Jiun told The Straits Times then that it is common for consumers to overlook that such options have been ticked for them as they complete the transaction.

This can lead to additional charges for extra services or items that the consumers may not be aware that they are purchasing.

"Such options should be left unticked so that consumers have to consciously tick them if they wish to include them," Mr Loy had said.

On the credit card issue, the airline had earlier said it would impose a credit card fee on bookings made by some travellers departing Singapore. The charge - 1.3 per cent of the total fare amount, capped at $50 - was to apply to those who bought its cheapest Economy Lite tickets, the airline said.

A day later, SIA, without giving any reasons, said it had decided not to go ahead with the credit card fee.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.