The Hidden Charges of Low-Cost Airlines

You might think you’re getting a deal on that dirt-cheap flight reservation, but how many more times will you have to open your purse to shell out for “extras”? The primary marketing message of low-cost carriers like Ryanair is that they let you choose what services you’re willing to pay for, which at first glance sounds like a great arrangement. Until you find out that you could be paying more than twice what you set out to. Here’s how they get their hands on your money — and how to put a stop to it.

Baggage handling

Roulette Baggage Carousel Venice Italy

Unless you’re travelling with just a carry-on, be prepared to tack on extra cash to the cost of your trip when you have to pay a fee per bag. What’s worse is that some industry experts say that the checked baggage fee is likely to be more expensive on a budget airline than a standard carrier.

A la carte food service

Airline Food Air China

Most budget airlines don’t include the cost of food in their ticket prices, meaning that you’ll have to pay later for meals and snacks. If you’re taking a short trip, this may not mean much to you, but if it’s anything longer than a couple of hours, the pangs of hunger could cause you to make irrational decisions, like paying a sky-high fee for a sandwich and beverage.

Amenities

If you’re travelling for the long haul, having goodies like in-flight entertainment can be a big deal. You could opt to sell your old electronics for cash and upgrade to a newer gaming console to keep you company. But it’s just not quite the same as having a selection of movies and television to watch on a quality airline.

Flexibility in travel arrangements

It’s a good idea to read the fine print on your travel itinerary, no matter what airline you’re using. However, with low-cost airlines, this vigilance becomes even more important because you probably won’t be able to change your flight reservations in any way without paying a large percentage of the original cost of your ticket. And for some airlines, if you can’t make the trip as you booked it, you’ll have to forfeit the entire cost of your ticket.

Payment methods

Ryanair Boeing 737 8AS

Though airlines are no longer allowed to charge you a fee for paying with a card, many of them have started to include an ambiguous ‘booking fee’ or administration charge to make up the difference. And customers may find themselves regretful of not planning ahead when they discover that they’ll have to pay more to check-in and choose their own seat.

Comfort and peace of mind

All of the previous costs can be measure in pounds, but there’s one big cost that proves to be invaluable to travellers, and that’s peace of mind. It’s likely that you’ll end up paying nearly as much (if not more) than you would have with a standard airline once you’re done haggling and paying fees, so it’s better to pay it all at once so that you can enjoy your trip.