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Richard Lutz’s Blog

SKY HIGH RIP-OFF

16-06-2009

Air transport

Just how much do all those hidden add-ons amount to on a plane journey? And what the hell are they for anyway, wonders high flying Richard Lutz.

Time to see the relatives which means either a brain numbing car journey up the M6 towards the North Pole until I get to Scotland or fall asleep at the wheel and die in a ball of flames.

Or else I can fly. And here we go into the stratosphere where all these budget flights offer you the cheapest flights in the history of aviation that ironically cost the earth.

So…on to the Flybe website which looks like a poster for a crummy circus.

Good news. I can go from Brum to Glasgow for 4p per flight.

Now the real deal. It doesn’t cost 8p round trip. It costs £70.45. Using my prepubescent maths, this comes out to £70.37 more expensive than I thought.

Well we’ve all been there.

So how did I go from 8p to £70 bleeding pounds and 45 damned pence?

A great little sub heading on the bill is Tax and Charges. That comes out to £49.90.

Then there is £15.98 for having the temerity of actually wanting clean clothes in a bag. Then there is £4.49 for insurance because I forgot to untick a box.

Let’s first of all take a look at these vague Tax and Charges. Flybe does have a template that breaks down these fees and they mean very little - just a bunch of words really. But after some sketchy research (OK, OK, I googled the terminology) this is what it boils down to:

Airport Departure Tax: Or ADT to those who are plane anoraks. This is not a government charge but a specific fee levied by an individual airport which is why it is different usually for inbound and outbound flights.

It is what is called a non ticketable add-on which means it can be attached willynilly to make your flight more expensive. Basically the airline passes its costs on to you which is why the taxes and charges are 1247 times my original 8p round trip flight.

In my fevered research I ran across a real nerdy site that is of interest to those who amazingly collect ADT international stamps. Here is one really fascinating blog:

‘Display of ADTs can be colourful and interesting, particularly if they include the original ticket or boarding card to which they were affixed.’

Remind me not to meet this guy in the corner of a pub on a rainy Wednesday afternoon.

Passenger Service Charge: The what…? Again, not a government tax but a charge by the airline for each individual passenger it carries. The airline has to pay this to an airport but, as above, the charge is slapped on to our bills.

Security/Insurance Surcharge: Hold on, not a charge but a surcharge - must be super important. This is to protect you and me from 9/11. It is hard to argue against but once again it is us that pays not the airline bosses or their shareholders.

Now on to baggage. Flybe whacks an additional £15.98 to my bill because I want clean underwear. And it means because I have baggage I can’t check in online. As for the insurance - which means my family gets a million quid if I get lost over Cumbria - well, they really are cheeky these airlines in making you untick a box to not want it. So if you are stupid, lazy and careless like I am, you get slapped with it.

So, there goes my weekly paycheck to get to Scotland. From 8p to something over £70. Is Scotland worth it?

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