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Consumer - Beating Hidden Airline Charges

Friday, 5 February 2010

Beating the Extra Charges

1.The payment fee:

In order to buy and pay for your airline ticket you will need to pay €5 each way for each ticket. For a family of four this means they could potentially pay €40 for one transaction.
All three Irish airlines offer an alternative to this payment. Ryanair do not charge this fee if you pay by Mastercard pre-pay debit card, Aerlingus if you pay by visa electron or for infant bookings and Aer Arann if you pay by debit card. This is the only way around this payment.

2.Checked-in luggage:

If you want to check in your luggage you're going to have to pay and with Ryanair and Aer Lingus the amount will increase if you pay at the airport rather than online, so always do it online. You can pay as much as €210 to check in two bags at the airport with Ryanair. Aer Arann has no baggage charge.

Each airline has a baggage allowance for checked luggage.

They also charge an excess per kg:

Aerlingus €9 / €12
Ryanair €20
Aer Arann €8

Is there a way around the charges?

. Bring Hand luggage only where possible but be aware that size matters Ryanair's bag dimensions are 55cm x 40cm x 20cm, Aer Lingus's is 56cm x 45cm x 25cm. Aer Arann's is 20cm x 28cm x 43cm Go 1cm over, and they will charge to put it in the hold.
. Wear your heavy clothes. It may be a hassle, but to help minimize weight and make sure you don't get charged for excess, wear your heaviest clothes and shoes. A big coat could add 2kg of excess baggage (that's €40 with Ryanair). Once you're on the plane, take them off and stow under your seat.
. Use the scales at home. Always pop cases on the scales at home first whether it's hand luggage or for check-in and remember just because you are two people travelling does not mean you can pool the weight i.e. you take 10kg and he takes 20kg. Weight allocations are per person.
. Leave space for the way back. Most people return home from a holiday with more than they took. If you're planning to, leave space in your luggage for the return.

3.Check in online:

Ryanair charge €5 for online check-in and €10 at the airport. There is no way to avoid this unless you manage to get one of their fares that has 'free check-in'. Aerlingus and Aer Arann don't charge for check-in.

Surely check-in isn't optional? In my opinion it should be included in the fare, as there is no way you can choose to avoid it unless you get a specific promotional fare. So we asked Ryanair why they don't include the check-in charge in their advertised price of the flight as it is not optional?

Statement from Ryanair:

'Ryanair only advertises promotional fares - which are always inclusive of online check-in fees. Currently over 50% of passengers travel on promotional fares. Therefore, the majority of passengers do not pay any online check-in fees. The most price sensitive passengers will never pay online check-in fees as they will always travel on our advertised promotional fares. Ryanair's policy is to make air travel affordable for all passengers by delivering the lowest fares - which is why we continue to be Europe's largest airline. With the greatest respect, your research is wrong - advertised fares always include online check-in and the majority of passenger don't pay any online check-in fees. Any passenger that enquires on the price of our non-promotional, non-advertised fares on our website are made aware of the full price of their fare, including taxes and charges and the €5 on-line check in fee on the very first page of the booking process.'

Once you've checked in online, always print your boarding pass before you go. If you've printer problems, it can be cheaper to find an internet cafe than pay the fee for not bringing the boarding pass. Ryanair will charge you €40 at the airport for the pleasure. That's €80 return!

4.Getting a Seat:

Turn up early rather than paying for priority boarding or pre booked seats.
A good tip for Ryanair's priority boarding is that if there are four of you travelling together pay for priority boarding just for the biggest, burliest member of your party who can then get on the plane early and save your seats. That will save you €4/€5 a head.

5.If you need to cancel a flight:

There are exorbitant charges in relation to changing flight dates, times and especially name change. However if you need to cancel a flight you are entitled only to the taxes and charges but in most cases, it is not worth your while trying to get this back. The admin fees to get your taxes and charges back can be more than your total taxes and charges. Ryanair charge €20 and Aerlingus charge €20 admin fees.

But how can both airlines justify such a charge for admin fees:

Statement from Aerlingus:

Low Fare

Government tax is refundable upon request and this must be made within one month from the booked travel date. A refund Administration Fee of €20 per person, per one-way flight applies. Handling Fees (Booking and Credit/Debit Card)/Seat Fees/Baggage Fees are not refundable.


A Full refund less 15% of flight fare and administration fee when cancelled prior to the flight scheduled departure time.
Government tax is refundable upon request and this must be made within one month of the booked travel date. Refund Administration Fee of €20 per person, per one-way flight applies. Handling Fees (Booking and Credit/Debit Card)/Baggage Fees are not refundable.'

Statement from Ryanair:

'The administration charge (which covers the administration of such queries) for a refund of Government taxes is €20, which is less than BA and Easyjet and the same as Aer Lingus. However, as Ryanair absorbs the taxes and charges on over 50% of flights to and from Ireland on behalf of passengers a refund of taxes and charges will never become an issue for the majority of Irish passengers.


Bags featured on today's show: 3 suitcase/bags from Adamson's Luggage of 59 South William St, Dublin 2 ph: (01) 6774622.