/ Travel & Leisure

Airports – stop hitting us with extra charges

Man pushing airport trolley

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?


Definitely a reason to find more destinations to get to by train! Much less hassle. And – as far as I know – no hidden charges. Yet, anyway.

Good job they forced BAA to sell off Gatwick to someone else then – the more competition for this lumbering giant the better to prevent them from continnuing to take advantage of us!

Stevie Cornford says:
19 July 2010

I am against charging for the use of a baggage trolley. I travel to the US each year (family visits) and am frustrated by the need to immediately find $1+ for a trolley – even if they do take credit cards. At some airports – particularly in New York – you cannot actually take the trolley out of the airport building so still have to carry it to the car park or car rental facility. It has never seemed very welcoming to the foreign traveller and I have been proud that we do a better job over here. As far as drop-off charges go – these are just plain silly. The admin costs alone cannot make if truly worthwhile for BAA. My husband and I are in our 70s – is our only alternative to be dropped off outside the airport complex? Where no reasonable alternative is available it must be extortion and ought to be considered so and, therefore, illegal.

Sophie Gilbert says:
20 July 2010

I really would love to be able to take the train to go to my parents' in the south of France twice a year, but I'm not young and fit enough any longer to do so. I would roughly have to change train/mode of transport six times and there wouldn't necessarily be trolleys available, even at £2 a shot, to help me carry my luggage each time. When you don't have a choice of destination, the train isn't always the better alternative.

Arguing that a dropping off charge encourages us to use less polluting mode of transport to arrive at the airport is spurious if such a mode of transport doesn't exist, such as at Edinburgh Airport. To date you can arrive there by car, taxi or bus, none less polluting than a private car, and I will be very surprised indeed if we have a tram system in working order by October…

As far as charging for transparent plastic bags for liquids, however, I must admit that I think airports should, from an environmental point of view, exactly in the same way as I think all supermarkets (and other shops?) should charge for plastic bags. I have seen oodles of the things lying on the floor in untidy heaps around the dispensing boxes, no doubt for a lot of them just to be chucked out at the end of the day and end in a landfill somewhere, and I have also seen people helping themselves to much more than what they need. Maybe charging £1 is going to far, but was about 10-20 pence?

Everything to do with air travel is getting increasingly annoying: charges for drop-off, trolley, boarding passes, web check-in, baggage and even a charge to make a payment for the flights. Crazy! Then there is the distance to get to the airport, parking charges, the requirement to be there two hours before – need I go on? It really puts me off air travel. What happened to the airlines trying to create a good customer experience and provide good customer service?

Loopyorwhat says:
22 July 2010

Just arrived in from Toronto, I was surprised when I saw that trolleys were locked in at Toronto ( I flew in from Ottawa) and that a 2 dollar costs was needed free one, I for one would do my utmost to avoid paying these charges, as I see it as another banking and mobile phones trick to squeeze as much profit as can possibly be squeezed from a (now thoroughly confused public) as to what exactly are you paying for.

Peter Jesson says:
23 July 2010

I have worked for airlines all my life, including 5 years at London Heathrow Airport but prefer to pollute the planet by driving 700 miles to my home in SW France in my 4 x 4 rather than enduring the plethora of niggles, irritations and rip-offs that have become part of air travel in recent years.

I believe airports get as much money from cafes and shops as they do from airlines. I suspect they make us arrive 2 hours or so before the flight so we spend more money. The time to go through security is usually a few minutes. Clearly we can’t all arrive at the same time, but couldn’t we be given slots, so we don’t spend hours queuing and shopping? With fewer shops, airports could be smaller, with less distance to walk to the aereoplanes.

All forms of travel seem to be continuing on a upward level of hassle and one begins to question as to whether the public in general will be alienated to such a degree that the providers will go into decline. It may of course be that travel will only be for the rich in future and then of course we will have come full circle.

Geting inside the airport terminal, you used to feel your holiday had begun, but now they want to rob you before you step inside,as well as when you get inside with high prices if you want to buy anything, I for one have had enough of it.

Luton Airport

We’re looking and avoiding you!

I drove to Gatwick and used a proper airport with a proper airline for less cost and hassle than Ryan or Easyjet.

It can be done.

I thought the lack of hackers was too good to last

How about running a competition to see which airport has the biggest rip-off charges for passenger drop-off ?
The worst that I know is Luton who charge a £3 fee for drop-off which gives you up to 10 minutes, after which it is an amazing £1/minute !!!!
Can anyone beat that ?