News Hidden Costs: what else can airlines charge for?

All articles

Hidden Costs: what else can airlines charge for?

What else can airlines charge for?

What else can airlines charge for?
I’m pretty sure that when the budget airlines started, you paid your ticket price and, aside from buying a stale sandwich and a warm can of Coke, that was it. Nowadays, there is a litany of other things which can get added on – all of which are irritating ways of the airlines getting more money from us.


could seat belts become an added extra one day?

I have said this before, but I think I speak for many when I say that one price – whatever it might be – is what I want. I do not wish to select a £5 ticket and then discover that I have to pay a debit card fee, a check-in fee, a baggage fee and God knows what else.

Everything has a value
Presumably airline bosses have had a meeting where they’ve deconstructed the whole air travel process and then assigned a value to the various component parts. This is like buying petrol and being charged extra for using the pump and parking your car on the garage forecourt.

I also think there’s unintentional self-criticism by the airlines if they charge you for things like extra leg-room and priority boarding, and the implicit message they are sending is “our usual boarding process is rubbish and our seats are uncomfortable.”

And it’s not just the budget airlines at it either
Two national carriers have recently announced that they are going to start making passengers pay for emergency exit seats. This grieves me for a number of reasons. Firstly, I’m unnecessarily tall and find that being forced to sit in economy for 11 hours is something the CIA might do to people with beards.

Secondly, by taking these seats, we’re actually doing the airlines a favour. To comply with safety regulations, the seats have to be occupied by an able-bodied person over the age of 21 who can help operate the emergency doors in the event of passengers getting to play with the yellow slides. As such, they are asking us to pay to help them.

If the worst came to the worst, who would you want operating the heavy, unwieldy door mechanism in a hurry – a short, fat, asthmatic photocopier salesman or a 6’ 4” rugby player with arms like steel girders? Tall people are being targeted because airline bosses are small, mean people who are jealous of their loftier brethren (this may or may not be true).

It is the moral duty of the less large to refuse to pay for these seats so that the oversized can get them for free – think of it as a favour for us getting your stuff from the overhead lockers.

Come on, you can do better than that
Given the money-extracting tactics employed by some of the airlines, I think there are far more brazen ways of achieving income. How about charging extra to fly in newer, safer planes or if your pilot has passed all his exams first time? Window seats should cost more because children always like those and seatbelts should definitely be an option.

There should be a £10 supplement if you wish to be served by an attractive cabin attendant and a surcharge should be added if your plane takes off on time. I vaguely hesitated before typing these on screen since I can think of one low-cost airline who would probably deem these workable ideas but who am I kidding? They thought of these years ago.

Who is charging what?
Flippancy, as usual, is my default response, but only because it disguises genuine annoyance. My research below shows the extra costs which can be incurred on various British carriers these days. All prices are correct as of 27th October 2008 and relate to a return flight for one adult in January 2009:

Airline Initial flight price shown Further tax added Check-in bag at the airport (rtn) Airport check-in Priority boarding Credit card payment Sandwich and drink TOTAL Basic flight and total cost difference
BMI £115.40 none Free £4 Free £4 Free £123.40 £8.00
British Airways £103.50 none Free Free Free £4 Free £107.50 £4.00
EasyJet £58.39 none £12 Free £11 £4.95 £5.30 £91.64 £33.25
Flybe £0.00 £49.98 £26 Free Free £7 £4.50 £87.48 £87.48
Ryanair £0.00 £20 £16 £8 £8 £8 £5.65 £65.65 £65.65

Note: BMI, BA and EasyJet flights from London to Amsterdam
Flybe and Ryanair flights from London to Belfast

In this instance, it’s difficult to do a flat comparison because the destinations are different, but I really do not see the point of offering a ticket for free when on the following screens one is charged something extra for virtually every step. It’s time-consuming, tedious and almost as if some of the airlines are trying to shift the blame of the costs elsewhere.