Extortionate 'optional extras' fees – how to avoid?

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How’s this for an oxymoron: cheaper air travel comes at a high cost these days.

It may contradict itself but it’s true. Us budget airline travellers are willing to sacrifice food, drinks and even our luggage at times, just so we can get on the cheapest flight possible. But we risk extortionate extra costs if we happen to need any of those standard services that other airlines offer.

An annual study by TravelSupermarket found that checked luggage charges have soared in recent years, with Thomson’s fees rising by 47 per cent and Easyjet’s has increased by a quarter in just 12 months.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary even told a conference in London that “we will keep increasing until we get rid of the bags”.

There are other ways of getting your luggage abroad at a lower cost, such as VIP delivery and collection services from places like First Luggage (www.luggagedeliverycompany.com) – but would you trust them to deliver your clothes safely and on time?

Are there other ways of avoiding those pesky charges or should we all travel light for the luxury of affordable air travel?

Share your thoughts and tips on airline fees here.

Lottie Gross 12/08/13    General travel chat Link Report

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Absolutely agree. It isn’t as if these ‘budget’ airlines are THAT much cheaper than main carriers half the time now, once you take all the extras into account.

I hate these ‘optional extras’, especially the ones that are in no way optional. It really annoys me that they are slapping on huge charges for any and every spurious thing they can think of now, ‘security’ charges, ‘admin fees’, ‘green taxes’ (ggrrr!) or ‘premium’ charges for sitting in seats that used to be free, it is getting beyond a joke! I mean charging for luggage is pathetic, EXCESS luggage should be exactly that, but we have the right to expect that luggage fees for a fair amount of luggage are included in the price of the ticket (which aren’t exactly going down).

The sad thing is that the entire industry is moving swiftly toward this model, even beyond it as some carriers are pushing for individual pricing. O Leary is doing more to damage the travel/flight industry in the long term than he is any good, as there will be a tipping point where enough is enough and people get sick of being charged to fly.

I mean what does that moron O Leary expect? For people to fly with absolutely no luggage?

Travelling light is one thing, this is something I always do, and yes I do get annoyed when I see people coming on board with half a dozen bags each that clearly should have been checked into the hold, and then proceed to take up all the space in the overhead bins, but it is completely unreasonable to charge people for carrying anything more than the lightest hand luggage. If the prices were coming down significantly as a result, fair enough, but they aren’t, they are slapping these extra charges on to keep prices at the status quo!

Look here for my thoughts on keeping flight prices down. http://bemusedbackpacker.com/2013/07/29/top-10-best-ways-to-save-money-on-your-flight/

Michael Huxley 12/08/13    Link Report

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If I’m going short distances (like from London to Edinburgh etc) then I don’t mind not taking checked luggage, and often when I go for a short break in Europe with family or friends we’ll only take one suitcase between two which can save money, but I think these fees penalise people who want to take longer breaks or are going to places where you’d need to take checked luggage (for example, if you’re skiing you’ll need a decent allowance to carry all your warm clothing).

I think all these extra charges will eventually put people off flying with low budget airlines and we’ll go back to the more reliable standard airlines like BA – I was searching for a flight to Madrid a while back and found that BA was about £50 cheaper because of the Easyjet and Ryanair baggage charges!

It’s always worth comparing with other normal airlines once you’ve figured out the total charges you might have to pay with a budget one.

Lottie Gross 13/08/13    Link Report

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I agree with Lottie – once you add in the baggage fees, as well as the cost of getting to the bizarrely located low-cost airline airports (such as “London Southend”), I find it’s often cheaper overall, and of course that much more pleasant, to avoid no-frills altogether and pay up for the nicer airlines. Free food, drinks, and you might get to hear the BA song played over and over – what more could you want?

Helen Abramson 14/08/13    Link Report

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