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Monday, 26 January 2009

Cheap flights farce

Why do some airlines (or maybe it's all?) insist on treating customers to a total "cheap" flight booking farce? I have had reason to book a couple of flights this weekend with different firms and in both cases I was utterly taken aback by the cheek of the airlines. 

We have all become accustomed to a few "added extras" when booking on-line. For example, there are frequently "taxes" to add on to the initial seat price. But over the last year, these "added extras" have become frankly ridiculous.

Let me give you an example. When booking flights from Glasgow to Birmingham with BMI Baby I was delighted to find that the cost of a seat would be just 4p. Now, I'm not so gullible as to imagine this would be the final price and I thought at the very least there would be tax additions.  

And duly I was informed that for the return flights (a total of 8p remember!) I would have to pay £27.90 in "taxes and charges". This still seemed reasonable enough for a Bank Holiday weekend in May.

But then came the baggage and check-in. Even if I wanted to simply check in with no luggage I would need to pay £7.98 (I could get around this by checking in on-line apparently). But since I needed to take a big bag I had to stump up another £23.96. Then I noticed that the website had automatically charged a cost of £7.25 for "no hassle travel insurance". I quickly unticked this box. Luckily I wasn't planning to take a musical instrument (£17.99 extra) or any sports equipment (between £17.99 and £24.99 for the pleasure!).

I you're paying attention the total price so far for two 4p flights is  £51.94. Then I'm asked if I want to pay £5.99 for the privilege of choosing where I sit. Next up is the offer of the chance to wait in an exclusive lounge at Glasgow airport, including a free drink and snack, for the grand sum of £15. Again, er, no thanks very much. Ta.

And so I think I'm home and dry. No, I have to go through a page of "great car hire deals". Then it's time to get out the credit card. Now we all know that we need to pay for flights etc with a credit card in case they end up going bust. But now you have to pay a massive £7 for this. To pay with a debit card would have cost £5 extra. The only way to waive this charge is to have the airline's own credit card. Yeh, rightio.

So in total my 8p flights come to £58.94. Yeh, this is still a cheap deal for return flights from Scotland to Birmingham but still nowhere near as fabulous as 8p and nothing even close to BMI's pledge on their home page of "thousands of seats guaranteed at £13.99". I just don't believe these exist.

But really what rankles me most with all this is that airlines like BMI Baby seem to think that we customers are happy to put up with this nonsense. If they had simply said at the start that the flights would be around £25 each then this would still have represented a good deal. Instead, at every step, and with every hike in cost, I became even more infuriated.

I won't go into the details of the other flights. Except to say that an original price of around £60 for a flight one way form Scotland to France with ended up being  closer to £120. How can this make any sense for business?

There, rant over. I know what you'll all say: "But you still booked." Yes, I did this time. But I might not bother next time. 

I've a good mind to act all middle class and middle aged and write to Which?...

1 comment:

  1. Now a days finding cheap flights is not an issue i always found cheap flights to Pakistan very easily due to high competition among the agents and airlines.