Monday, November 02, 2009

Hidden Costs

I've ranted about this before, but how on Earth can low-cost airlines possibly justify their pricing structure?

I am in the process of booking up my holiday next year. This involves flying from either Glasgow or Edinburgh (or, I suppose, Prestwick) to La Rochelle, probably via Southampton. So, off I go to FlyBe (or EasyJet, or RyanAir, or wherever - they're all much the same), and put in the details, and lo and behold, they offer a flight from Edinburgh to Southampton for £1.56.

That's not a typo.

Fantastic, I think, I'll get and book that. And so I do.

Only, as soon as I select the flight, the total cost in my Basket increases from £0, not to £1.56 as you might expect, or even to something reasonably close to this. With "fees and taxes", it jumps to £51.56.

That's also not a typo.

And, in fact, since I'm booking four flights for two people, and each person has to check a bag for each leg of the journey, the total cost comes not to the £80 I had estimated (one leg advertises at £26. The others were all about £2.), but rather to just under £600.

I wouldn't mind so much if these were, realistically speaking, avoidable fees. But they're not - you have to pay tax, and although you can strictly-speaking avoid the "booking online" fee, you can only do this by incurring a higher "booking by phone" fee.

Basically, it's a lie, and not even a small lie - £520ish isn't exactly pocket change. (And, of course, I didn't even get to the "credit card" fee that you also can't realistically avoid, or the "use the toilet" fee, or the "check-in online" fee, or the higher "check-in in person" fee, or the "silly hat" fee, or any of the others. It all drives me crazy - tell me up front how much it will really cost, so I can make an informed choice!)

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