UK airports are increasingly charging for amenities that used to be free, like trolleys and dropping off outside the terminal. Is this an unfair way of squeezing more money out of air passengers?
If you’re heading off for your summer holiday, be prepared to fork out for things that were once free at the airport.
Belfast International and East Midlands airports have recently started charging £1 per vehicle to drop off passengers right outside the terminal, and Edinburgh has just announced a similar system for October.
They aren’t the only ones. When I took a taxi to Newcastle airport in May, the driver said I’d have to pay him an extra £1 if I wanted to be taken to the terminal door, as the airport would charge him that.
Maybe I was being really stingy for the sake of a pound, but – partly as a matter of principle, and partly because I wasn’t weighed down with luggage – I decided to avoid the charge. Instead I walked the three minutes from the short stay car park.
Drop-off charges could be needed
Should I have been so indignant? Should we automatically assume that it’s our right to have a free dropping-off place?
Airports are not state funded, and most will admit they need to raise extra money to pay for airport development. They also argue that the charge prevents congestion in the drop-off areas and even encourages us to arrive in less polluting forms of transport.
But what about people with limited mobility? They still have to pay the charge when they use Newcastle’s drop-off zone.
Even more charges have taken off
And there are other charges to consider. At London Luton, for example, it now costs a non-refundable £2 to use each baggage trolley, £3 if you choose the fast-track security queue and £1 if you need transparent bags for your liquids at security.
Why should people need to pay extra to get through security anyway? And what if you don’t have the right change available to pay for the baggage trolleys?
But by raising money through passenger fees, airports are likely to attract more airlines and routes, which in turn gives us a wider choice of destinations and reasons to fly from regional airports. A price worth paying?