/ Travel & Leisure

Have you paid unexpected extra airline fees?

Airline fees

Nothing makes my blood boil more than the extra fees airlines charge, and judging by a recent Which? Travel survey, I’m not alone. Do you think these fees are fair?

A couple of summers ago, myself and a small group of friends decided on a week’s holiday in Slovenia, the idea being we’d fly with the low-cost airline, WizzAir, to keep our costs down.

At first glance, the return flights seemed absurdly cheap, but then came the extras – the administration fee, the checked bags, the seats together, the extra leg room for the taller members of the group… and very soon the fare had almost doubled. And that was without factoring in the in-flight refreshments.

Less than 12 hours before we were due to depart, one member of the group got a phone call to say his father had been taken ill. He urged us to go ahead without him and, all being well, would catch up with us later in the week.

We didn’t need to worry about checking in online, he told us, because he’d already done that for us. However, when we arrived at the airport sans boarding passes, we were duly charged £26.50 each for the airline to print them out for us.

Fortunately, I’d packed light and was wearing all my heaviest clothes, otherwise things might have got ugly if I’d then been charged excess baggage on top.

Extra airline charges

Other airlines also add on another charge if you turn up to the airport without checking in online first – Jet2.com charges £15, while Ryanair charges £45. Now that’s pretty steep considering all you’re really doing is telling them you’ve arrived. No wonder three out of four of those surveyed felt this fee was unfair.

Reportedly, Ryanair will be reducing its free-of-charge check-in time from seven to four days from 1 November, making it particularly tricky for those flying somewhere for a week to avoid extra charges for their return flight.

Those travelling with kids are the ones who seem to really pay the price though. Not only are packages/flights a lot more expensive during school holidays, but many airlines charge extra for checked bags at Christmas, Easter and summer holidays – WizzAir charges jump from £13.50 to £22 and Aer Lingus charges £20, up from it’s usual £12 charge.

And while official guidelines say airlines should aim to seat kids close to a parent/guardian and ideally in the same row, this can’t be guaranteed so parents have no choice but to pay to reserve. Last month, Ryanair made it mandatory for adults travelling with under 12s (excluding infants) to pay to reserve a seat.

But the extra costs don’t end there. There’s also the cost of changing a name on a ticket and the credit card surcharges – not to mention the cost of paper and ink when you opt for print-at-home boarding passes. Even before you’ve got on the plane, you’re getting stung, with some airports charging as much as £3 for drop-offs or pick-ups outside, and £1 for the plastic toiletries bag you need to get through security.

Fair fees

So what can be done about this? Well, airline fees and charges are already on the radar for upcoming scrutiny from the Civil Aviation Authority and Which? is urging it to ensure fees are fair. Not forgetting that we continue to push for the government to bring in a ban on those sneaky credit card surcharges.

So, what do you think to these extra airline fees? Have you found yourself paying extra fees for a flight?


Airlines, by and large, are little more than licensed bandits. There’s scant regard for passenger comfort or convenience and, when combined with the dismal state of the average UK airport, makes the train a far, far more appealing option. Now, if they can ever build a transatlantic bridge, I’ll be happy 🙂


On a slightly more serious note legislation has to force airlines to show single headline prices which really are all-inclusive. The minimum cost of flying from A to B with one suitcase and one carry-on case has to be shown as a single cost. The current deceitful techniques used by airlines are far from unique, however; try buying a car without the delivery cost and see how far you get. But at least car showrooms do show an inclusive deal price.

Airlines have been getting away with this banditry for far too long. Time it was stopped.


Print at home tickets really irritate me, especially when you pay for the privilege. I had a print a home boarding pass for a holiday earlier this year and half the page was occupied by a full colour advert for a mobile phone company – why should my ink (which we all know is an expensive commodity and pricier than champagne) be wasted on this print at home boarding pass?


And that is why we don’t fly any more.

John Holland says:
29 October 2016

I have booked a cruise out of Hong Kong at Christmas and tried for several days last week to book with Turkish Airlines to join it. There has been a problem with the Turkish Airlines’ system which means that when you key in all the booking details and go to the payment page, it says “please try later”. I tried many times and even phoned Istanbul twice, the first time they said “use a different browser” and “the problem will be fixed in two hours” and then the next day they said “try again sometime later”.

I tried I.E., Safari, Chrome and Firefox and they all had the same result. The problem trickled down to Expedia, Opodo, E-bookers, etc., all of whose systems failed to book flights at the last hurdle. Total exasperation!

Then last Friday, I was finally able to book with Travel Up, paying around £1100 for two tickets. They emailed me the e-ticket after 6pm on Friday night, and when I opened it on Saturday morning, the ticket said “Mr John Holland” and “Miss John Holland”, when the second pax should be “Miss Elizabeth Plevey”

Whether it was my mistake out of frustration from filling in my travel details dozens of times on multiple websites, auto-fill on my computer, or Travel Up themselves – on one item of paperwork they sent me there are two “Miss John Hollands” – I do not know.

It says on the note with the e-ticket to phone the same day if there are any mistakes, so I called them as soon as they opened on Saturday morning and they asked me to email the correction details, which I did. Their Admin Team then emailed me at 6pm on Saturday night and told me “no name changes are permitted by Turkish Airlines”.

I have spoken to Travel Up and Turkish Airlines but both say a name change is impossible, yet Travel Up have offered a cancellation refund of £491 in “four to eight weeks”, the original fare less £75 cancellation fee.

In the meantime the flight has doubled in price to £1200! Even Ryanair offer a 24 hour grace period to correct minor ticketing errors!

Miss Plevey really doesn’t want to have to change her name by deed poll and get a new passport in my name…..yet we are seriously considering it!
That only costs around £100!

Joe Killaly says:
29 October 2016

I recently took a Thompson Airways flight to Tenerife for a week’s holiday. The listed price for the flight was quite cheap – in fact it was the second cheapest listed. Then I looked at the added “extras” and I was surprised by how much they increased the basic cost of the flight.
When did we start having to pay extra to take luggage on holiday? And since when did we have to pay for in flight meals?
I was aware of the surcharge that some airlines charge for the dubious “benefit” of being able to select your seat. This is usually less of a choice than they would have you believe as some change the aeroplane type prior to boarding. They then fob you off with the excuse that the seat that you picked (and paid for the privilege) is no longer available – please accept our substitute!
But I was quite surprised that they are allowed to get away all these added “extras” under advertising standards rules as the price quoted is not the genuine cost of the flight.

Don G says:
29 October 2016

I fly twice a week to get to and from work, and I have very little to complain about: I rarely select my own seat, don’t pay by credit card, don’t have hold bags and I either print or, if I forget, use the mobile app to store my boarding card on the way to the airport. I stopped using the airport pick-up area at Glasgow due to a ridiculous unavoidable charge for a 10 second stop. I pay less than a bus or train by booking well in advance, for better punctuality and a guaranteed seat, statutory compensation which has made sure I have never had a cancellation out of c400 flights , on young, efficient planes, and accept occasionally forfeiting my flight if my plans change – I am a satisfied customer of the low cost carriers.

What I object to is the government forcing airlines to hide taxes in the headline price – especially if I pay only £23 for a domestic flight, when the majority of that cost is tax (£13). It diverts attention from the punitive level of air tax levied (regardless of whether it is a good or bad thing, although formal studies show it has a net destructive effect on the economy), reducing political transparency and, ultimately, scrutiny. I also object to some airports and the border agency being able to provide poor service with long queues at security and immigration, without penalty.

Susan Edge says:
29 October 2016

Flew Ryanair from East Midlands to Knock and the cost of our flights included airport taxes. Was surprised therefore when we had to pay 30 euros when leaving Knock for the airport development fund. There was nothing optional about this and no mention when we bought our tickets.