'Budget airlines should be renamed 'Con Air' as they make billions off Britons from hidden fees'

Airplane suitcase

Taking a suitcase will often cost extra

Pip Tomson

By Pip Tomson

Published: 07/09/2023

- 16:41

Updated: 08/09/2023

- 08:29

Are you ever dubious of those jammy types who say they bagged a budget airline flight for £30? I reckon they’re telling porkies unless they’re planning on travelling with their essentials hidden on their person (more on that later)

Many of us rarely travel on a budget airline without getting stung by all those innumerable extras such as baggage.

It’s all such a ruse that I’ve decided these airlines need renaming.

They should all be called 'Con Air' due to years of drip pricing and the hidden - or at least highly concealed - extra charges.

They’re finally being scrutinized by the Government. And it’s about bleedin’ time. They're making billions from us whilst convincing us that we're getting a great deal. Except we're not.

Inside airport

Holidaymakers face lots of extra charges when using budget airlines


Bargain airlines simply don’t exist these days. And booking a flight on one takes almost as long as the short haul journey itself.

Case in point: I booked two seats to France the other day with a budget airline. The starting price was £150pp. Sounds reasonable I thought. Until I got into the nitty gritty of extra leg room (£32 out and £23 back).

Extra cabin bag in addition to small handbag chimed in at £40. Then there was the hold luggage at £32 per leg. Which is ridiculous because how many people take hold luggage out and return without it? Unless they’ve lost it.

By the time I’d finished, my flight was twice as expensive as when I started. Which meant that two return tickets at £150 each ended up costing over £600 in total. In fact I’m surprised they don’t charge us for the essential task of going to the loo.

I can see it now. “Need a wee during the flight? £5 each way. Need a number two? £10 each way. Enjoy your flight and have a nice poo." It’s not beyond the realms of possibility these days.

Even more infuriatingly, I reached the very end of this booking ordeal, hit the magic button and was informed I needed to start again because some of the items in my basket had changed price.

So – with glass of wine now in hand - I went through the same rigmarole half a dozen times again in the mistaken belief that I’d missed an important box tick. I hadn’t. It turns out the price of my hold luggage had increased. As if it wasn’t high enough already.

To be fair, I escaped lightly. Unlike the elderly couple last month who were charged £110 to print their boarding tickets at the airport. They’d had to pay airport check-in fees after innocently downloading their return tickets instead of their outgoing ones. Poor buggers. And the chances of the airline taking pity on them was - you guessed it - zero.

All this helps explain the Government’s plans to crack down on those airlines who advertise eye-wateringly cheap flights only to flog us eye-wateringly expensive ones by exhausting us with the plethora of extras.

People queuing to get on flight

The extras can add hundreds onto a trip


Trade body Airlines UK claims they deliver extra choice and value to customers. But wouldn't you rather know the price upfront than be lulled into a false sense of security by thinking you're bagging a cheap flight?

Which brings me back to the genius fella who booked a flight to Belfast for a night or two away. Not wishing to be caught out by all the extras, he took his coat to the local tailor and asked them to sew some customised pockets inside.

He stuffed them with fresh underwear, a shirt, jumper, trousers, a pair of shoes, a toothbrush and toothpaste. Ok, the coat was incredibly bulky once he put it on and he was as nervous as hell thinking that he wouldn’t make it through security. But guess what? No one said a word.

He made it onto the plane looking like Michelin Man, took the coat off and stored it in the overhead locker. Result!

So next time you're travelling via 'Con Air', see how frugally you manage to pack. Clean underwear is essential but do you really need that extra outfit, toiletries and shoes?

I've committed to ensuring my next trip is 'hand luggage only’ meaning I've probably saved myself at least £60 - which ain't too shabby. Pizza and a bottle of wine as I gaze at the Sacré-Cœur. Merci beaucoup.

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