Fares on budget airlines like Ryanair are as pricey as British Airways
Family fares on budget airlines like Ryanair and easyJet are as pricey as on British Airways because of ‘money-spinning’ add-ons such as charging for passengers’ suitcases
- So-called budget airlines rake in 80% per passenger from additional charges
Hard-pressed British families will pay as much for budget airlines this summer as they would for British Airways, a Mail on Sunday survey can reveal.
The rise of ‘money-spinning’ add-ons – charging for bags, in particular – has meant that travelling with low-cost carriers such as easyJet and Ryanair is no longer the cheap option it once was.
Analysis for The Mail on Sunday has found that so-called budget airlines rake in as much as 80 per cent more per passenger from additional charges such as cabin bag allowances and seat bookings.
For a family of four jetting off to Corfu in the first week of the summer holidays, with bags and seats included, it will cost £2,148 with British Airways, £2,011 with easyJet and £2,638 with Ryanair.
A similar jaunt to Palma, Majorca, will cost £1,545 with BA, £2,499 at easyJet and £2,041 with Ryanair.
For a family of four jetting off to Corfu in the first week of the summer holidays, with bags and seats included, it will cost £2,638 with Ryanair
Analysis has found that so-called budget airlines rake in as much as 80 per cent more per passenger from additional charges
The flights were selected last Wednesday for a trip from July 22-29, and we selected flights from London airports, excluding Heathrow. Our analysis aimed for like-for-like trips, though some arrival and departure times differed.
The revelations have emerged just days after Tui chief executive Sebastian Ebel said that the golden age of ultra-cheap flights is over.
Increased fuel costs have already led to airlines hiking fares this year, which has coincided with passengers paying even more for so-called ‘ancillary services’, including baggage charges, seat selection fees and on-board food and drink.
EasyJet prioritised boosting its ancillary revenues during the pandemic to bring it closer in line to budget rivals such as Ryanair and WizzAir. This included a significant change to its cabin bag allowance in 2021, when easyJet started charging customers to bring even small suitcases on board.
Financial data shows that easyJet increased its ancillary revenue per seat by 77 per cent in just six years, with customers now spending £20.22 each in add-ons.
Ryanair has also cashed in, as its passengers now spend £19.60 each in add-ons, up from £12.90 in 2017. Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘Some airlines have cynically moved to charging for basics such as cabin bags or for families to sit together, and this has proved a money-spinner. If you need luggage or to sit next to children, you may find it cheaper to fly with a better carrier that includes these basics in its standard fare.’
Some specialists have said the option of add-ons allows choice, but market expert Gerald Khoo said: ‘There has to be a balance with what people can put up with.’
Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of travel agent group Advantage Travel, also called for greater transparency on prices. ‘The trouble is that consumers think they will be paying £50 for a flight, but once you add the extras it doesn’t leave a great taste,’ she said.
For a family of four jetting off to Corfu, with bags and seats included, it will cost £2,148 with British Airways
EasyJet defended its strategy and insisted that 50 per cent of its fares currently on sale are less than £50.
A spokesman said: ‘Trying to compare prices for different times of the day or from different airports is not a meaningful comparison as these factors play a significant role in influencing demand.’ It said all of its extra charges ‘are optional so customers have more control over the cost of their travel’.
Ryanair and WizzAir were both contacted for comment.
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