/ 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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

Paying additional for seat reservations – I booked 2 premium economy seats with BA (through Expedia ) from London to Spokane in the U.S. At a price of £1100 each – so not cheap, economy airline prices. I went on line to reserve the seats to ensure we were sat together and in seats we preferred. At this stage we could only do this if we paid and additional £43 per seat each way – so another £172. The alternative was to wait until 24 hours before the flight and action at check in. This leaves you wondering if you are going to get the seats you want. I refuse to pay the additional so had to wait.
I did complain to BA twice and was told it is ‘policy’ as they were concessionary priced seats anyway!
Upon checking in 24 hours before flight we did have excellent seats automatically allocated, so wonder if my complaints had had some impact.
The flight and service were otherwise excellent.

Stephen Hicks says:
29 October 2016

I think airlines have improved a lot recently. As long as you pay attention as you book there should not be many surprises. People used to use travel agents who knew what to look for. A quid pro quo for not using travel agents is you need to educate yourself a little.

I have booked a little bit of sunshine with my husband but when checking in on line I’ve had to pay to sit next him a further £50 there and back and because. I was late checking in there was no seats together!!! This is on a Thomson flight to Gran Canaries not a good start to my winter break!!!

My wife would pay £50 to avoid sitting next to me for four hours twice a year.

This is drip pricing, a disingenuous practice by many online sellers of services in order to facilitate a misleading indication of total price. This song sums up budget airlines’ drip pricing very well!

As mentioned above, Ryanair is making a mandatory seat selection charge of €4 for an adult flying with children under 12. It appears that Ryanair is not including this mandatory charge at all stages of the booking process, thereby breaching Article 23 of Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008, which states “The final price to be paid shall at all times be indicated and shall include the applicable air fare or air rate as well as all applicable taxes, and charges, surcharges and fees which are unavoidable and foreseeable at the time of publication“. Who is going to take action against Ryanair for this? Which?

The Independent’s article above makes an irrelevant point about finding a computer to check in and print out boarding passes (this is 2016 and not 2006), but makes a very valid point that Ryanair’s smartphone app can’t be used for boarding passes when flying from some airports in Greece and Morocco. Ryanair should not charge for boarding passes where its smartphone app can’t be used.

When flying from most airports that don’t charge for plastic bags for liquids, take a handful and keep them in your baggage for next time you fly from an airport that charges for them. Drop-off charges at airports such as Luton can be avoided, provided that the airport roads are private and not public. If the roads are private, then any penalties for dropping off passengers outside the designated drop-off areas cannot be enforced. Schedule 4 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, which allows private landowners to pursue drivers for unpaid private parking charges, does not apply to non-parking charges (e.g. penalties imposed by private landowners for driving in a way it doesn’t allow). If I pick up someone from Gatwick, I do so from the free drop-off area for departures. Provided that the person you’re collecting tells you when they’ve arrived at the drop-off area, you can drive in, collect them, and drive away.

I often book flights on KLM UK site and ask to be charged in Euros because I am reimbursed in Euros by my employer. I noticed that there is always a difference between the final price showed on the website when I pay and the price actually charged, which includes a conversion fee. For example the last flight I bought showed a final price of 105 euros and my receipt showed I was charged 131.53 Euros. I have written to KLM before and they assured me they would be clearer about their charges. There are other transparency issues with their website but they are not interested to change it

SH says:
6 July 2017

Flying via Qantas to Australia, part of the route is undertaken by their partners Emirates. Now instead of choosing your seat through the Qantas booking system, as has happened in the past, one is redirected to Emirates who CHARGE £20 TO £30 for each portion of the flight i.e.. £50 each way. IT’S A RACKET.

What really winds me up is booking on a long haul flight as a couple then finding that to sit together will cost nearly £140 extra on top on the already pricey airline seats – there is no doubt that Airline Passengers are being ripped off and I haven’t even mentioned the terrible Airport parking fees.

I agree that families – as distinct from business travellers – are particularly vulnerable to this rip-off.