If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!

How often have you heard that? And still you keep getting caught, why?  I know! because if you read it in the newspaper or you have seen it on the telly it must be true.

I am constantly being cornered by my friends and relatives complaining about being caught by the prices advertised by budget airlines.  So far I have avoided upsetting any of them by just agreeing with them – “Ooh I know, aren’t they terrible” I sound like Basil Fawlty’s wife, Sybil.

What I really want to say to them is “How old are you? Don’t you ever read the small print, don’t you ever read the newspapers?  From now on I’m going to sound like an MP and refer them to my previous blog (this one). – Repeat after me – Caveat Emptor, BUYER BEWARE.

My personal feelings about budget airlines and the way they operate are that they are no better than the ‘Pikey’ who knocks on your door to offer to replace a loose tile on your roof for £20 and after he comes down his ladder, tells you that he had to replace 10 tiles and you now owe him £100.

The law regards such scam artists as crooks so why do they allow scam artists like Ryanair and Easy Jet to get away with their more sophisticated scams?  Scams like advertising cheap fares minus tax, a practice now outlawed but they still show pre-tax fares on their websites.  For example a flight from London to Ibiza in August with Ryanair is shown on their website as £42.99 basic adult fare.  This rises once taxes are added plus an on-line check in charge of £7, an EU Levy of £2.50 and taking a bag with you for £35.  If you want to reserve your seat costs £15 giving you a total of £105.82 which is a far cry from the initial attractive price of £42.99. 

Easy Jet aren’t quite so brazen, they promise a fare of £105.99 to Ibiza on July 30th and to make they seem less sleazy the Ryanair advertise No additional costs – What you see is what you get.  However they do not mention that there is luggage fee and a booking charge which takes their fare up to £139.39.

British Airways display a fare of £119 for the same journey which appears to be dearer but with BA a 23 Kg bag can be checked in free as well as hand luggage all included in the price.  Reserving a seat with BA (which isn’t compulsory) prior to check in costs just £7.

Another trick used by the budget airlines is the Excess Baggage Scam.  Should you fail to keep your luggage within the limits that you have paid for in advance you will be hit by a very large fee.  This is one of the best ‘little earners’ for budget airlines to milk their passengers.  Excess baggage with Easy Jet is charged at £11 per kilo at the airport – Sports equipment costs up to £60 per piece.  Hopefully they class a pair of skis as one piece.  If you are told to put your bags in the hold because it is overweight or oversize, that will cost yo another £40.

On Ryanair one extra bag in the hold in low season costs £60, a second bag in high season, paid for at the airport in high season can cost you as much as £160 extra.  Easy Jet have just announced that the size of permitted hand luggage has reduced the allowance by 35% which now means that the size they deem appropriate for hand luggage is 50 cms X 40 cms X 20 cms which now shaves of about 5 cm off each dimension.

Should you feel like an on board snack, the scammers are out in force again.  Easy Jet charges you £6 for it’s all-day breakfast, and another £1.80 for a cup of tea to go with it.  Meanwhile Ryanair charges £2.50 for a cup of tea, £5 for a sandwich and £5.20 for a small bottle of wine.  –  A packet of Pringles costs £2 and a packet of Starburst sweets in £2.50, even a sachet of ketchup to go with your £2.50 bag of chips costs another £0.15p.

By contrast passengers on a shorthaul European flight with British Airways are given a complimentary sandwich, a glass of wine and tea or coffee.  A survey found that the cost of meal on Ryanair often exceeded the ticket price.  

Standard airlines allow 32 inches between their seats in economy rows.  Easy Jet has cut theirs down to 29 inches and charges £12 for seats with more legroom.  Ryanair 30 inches and charges £15 for allocated seats booked at the airport.

British Airways charges £7 to book seats ahead of its 24 hour booking window and will automatically group family and friends together for free.

Many airports used by budget airlines are not convenient transport hubs.  Book a flight to Venice with Ryanair and you will arrive at Venice Trevisa Airport.  Venice Marco Polo Airport used by standard carriers is just 4.3 miles North of the city – a stylish 30 minutes by motorboat.  Venice Trevisa is nearly 25 miles away from, the city and takes more than an hour on the shuttle bus.

Should you forget to print out your boarding pass with Ryanair you will be hit with an instant fee of £70 per person.  Should you complain about these costs, you will joining a group and will be branded by Ryanair boss, the fragrant Michael O’Leary, as “idiots who should ‘bugger off'”.

Easy Jet have replaced it’s check-in desks with baggage drop off facilities to encourage passengers to print boarding passes at home, or perhaps set a trap for the unwary.  If I could take a leaf out of that dreadful man Michael O’Leary’s book and suggest that anyone who uses budget airlines are idiots and should not moan about being caught by these Con Artists.  Sorry, what I really mean is to think very carefully before booking with them, go in with your eyes open.  It’s only budgies who go cheep!

About Jake

Long retired travel writer, author and freelance journalist. Educated at Wolverton Grammar and Greenwich Naval College. Happily married since 1958, with a married son and daughter, a married granddaughter and an adult grandson. Hobbies rock-climbing, dinghy racing and ocean racing. Still regularly working out in the gym.

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