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.
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?