With Tina Leonard
Avoiding airline baggage fees
We all know that when travelling with a low fares airline you must pack lightly or pay the price.
And the fees, whether for putting your luggage in the hold or being charged for excess weight at the airport, can be very large indeed.
So much so, that Irish people paid out €17.5million in excess baggage fees in the past year. So, if you want to keep your cash you must now how to avoid these charges.
Tina Leonard was here to explain
Last week we spoke about travel insurance and mentioned the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This is a free card that everyone should get and it entitles you to healthcare in the public healthcare system of whatever European country you are visiting.
But for anyone travelling to Spain this summer you need to be aware of the following. Some Spanish hospitals (mainly in tourist areas) have been rejecting the EHIC card and asking patients for credit card numbers or telling them to claim on travel insurance policies instead.
This means that EHIC holders are being denied access to public healthcare on the same terms as Spanish nationals, to which they are entitled. The much higher cost of private treatment is then being passed on to the travel insurance companies or to the individuals themselves.
This is a clear infringement of EU law and the European Commission had been in touch with the Spanish authorities previously, who said they had taken action to tackle the issues.
But complaints are still being received so the European Commission has now taken the first step in infringement proceedings against Spain in the last week. This consists of sending a formal letter of notice to which the Spanish authorities have two months to respond.
For anyone travelling to Spain, make sure that you can use your EHIC card if you need to. Check the ehic.ie website or the free EHIC App for information on what public healthcare provides in Spain so that you know what you can avail of and try not to take no for an answer.
Airline baggage fees
A survey published by lastminute.com has revealed that we spent €17.5million in excess baggage fees in the past year, with 1 in 10 adults having to pay an additional charge. While that figure is down significantly from a whopping €29million two years previously, it’s still a big pot of money.
No one wants to start their holiday by having to pay over part of their holiday spending money to the airline at the airport because their bag is overweight or because they forget to check it in, in advance, but you don’t have to.
What you need to know is 1) what the charges are and 2) when they can be levied.
Then you can plan to avoid them.
What are the charges?
There are many and charges for bags with both Ryanair and Aer Lingus have just increased. According to the lastminute.com survey only 45% of adults know this but in fact these airline impose greater charges during what they term ‘high season’. This means that from the start of June to the end of September you pay more, whether paying online in advance or at the airport.
Checking in your bag online in advance
Aer Lingus (shorthaul)
€20 or €25 for 20Kg each way (depending on where you’re flying to). This was €15/€20 prior to 1st June. For longhaul you’re looking at €50 per bag each way.
€25 or €35 for 15Kg or €35 to €45 for 20Kg each way depending on destination (for first bag, additional bags cost more). This was €15/€25 or €25/€30 before 1st June.
If you turn up at the airport and your bag is heavier than allowed, but you’ve already paid for checked baggage online in advance, you will pay excess charges.
Aer Lingus charges €9 per excess kilo and Ryanair charges €20.
Paying for checked baggage at the airport
Maybe you weren’t sure if you wanted to check a bag in and now you realise your luggage is quite big and you have to check it in at the airport – bad idea! The charges for checking in luggage at the airport during ‘high season’ are huge. (By the way with Ryanair if you decide to check-in luggage before you travel and do that via ‘manage my booking’ on their website you still pay more but not nearly as much as you would at the airport).
Aer Lingus (shorthaul)
€35 or €45 depending on where you’re flying to within Europe. This was €30/€40 before June).
€100 or €130 for 15Kg and €105 to €140 depending on destination for 20Kg. This was €60/€75 before June.
What about cabin baggage?
There is no charge for bringing one piece of cabin baggage on board but bear in mind that if it is oversized or overweight you will pay the ‘at airport’ charges for putting it in the hold if travelling with Aer Lingus. Ryanair charges a flat fee of €60 for this.
Remember too that while Aer Lingus allows you to bring a handbag or food bag for example in addition, Ryanair does not.
Aer Lingus allows 55cm x 40cm x 24cm and up to 10kg in weight.
Ryanair allows 55cm x 40cm x 20cm and up to 10kg in weight.
Know that luggage costs will vary depending on the weight of the bag, the destination and the time of year you fly, so do your research.If checking-in luggage ALWAYS book it in advance online.Weigh all luggage when packed to check it is within the weight allowance.Lightweight luggage is a must.Vacuum pack your clothes to get more into a smaller bag.Use mini-bottles for toiletries.When it comes to your carry-on bag, beware the soft bags that may expand if over-packed.Put heavier things like camera, shoes and books in your hand luggage to avail of the free 10kg allowance.Ditch the hair-dryer as your hotel is likely to have one.Remember, if you plan to shop at your destination leave extra space in your bag.Bring less clothes – you can always wash them.Travel by ferry or stay in Ireland and bring as much baggage as you want!