According to a price comparison website, budget airlines are costing families more than mainstream airlines. This comes as an Idealo.co.uk study shows that an average British family could pay an extra £87 per booking with a low-cost carrier after all the hidden fees for bags, priority boarding, administrative services and seat reservations are included in the total price.
Idealo.co.uk analysed the cost of flights from ten difference carriers on four popular routes and under reasonable travel conditions for a family of two adults, one child and an infant. Four of the airlines were budget – Ryanair, easyJet, Norwegian and Germanwings – while the rest were mainstream carriers – British Airways, Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Air Berlin and Swiss.
The comparison website analysed fares on four return short-haul services from London to Barcelona, Alicante, Palma Majorca and Berlin. It found that the family could fly with the six mainstream airlines for an average £87 less per booking than the four low-cost carriers after reasonable luggage costs were added. After adding in childrens’ fares, the family would spend an average £29 less per seat with the mainstream airlines. This is because toddlers can fly free on a parent’s lap, which means the family only has to pay for three seats.
Here’s more detail on the comparisons. For a return trip from London to Barcelona, the total cost per person for the family of four would be: £213.27 with British Airways; £251.65 with Ryanair; £260.33 with easyJet; £305.34 with Air France; £308.34 with KLM; £311.80 with Germanwings; £317.85 with Air Berlin; and £455.70 with Norwegian. For a return trip from London to Berlin, the tickets would cost: £170 with Lufthansa; £206.93 with British Airways; £207.65 with Germanwings; £208.63 with KLM; £213.08 with Air Berlin; £221.97 with easyJet; £256.65 with Ryanair; £262.94 with Air France; £268.77 with Norwegian; and £275.23 with Swiss.
The study found that the budget airlines only came out cheaper for the London to Alicante return flight. The report says that prices from both easyJet and Ryanair were the least transparent of the four budget carriers it used in the research. When comparing the cost per seat from its analysis, the real cost was 92% more for easyJet and 166% more for Ryanair.
A spokesperson for the website said the results shouldn’t slam budget carriers, as they can provide a great value to certain types of passengers. However, they aren’t always the best choice for short-haul flights in the case of families.
Skyscanner Travel editor Sam Baldwin comments that the airline which offers the cheapest tickets completely depends on the passenger’s needs. Passengers only travelling with hand luggage will generally find the cheapest fares with budget carriers. However, groups, families or people with sports equipment will generally find that mainstream airlines offer the best deals.
Airlines have been criticised since an official new online consumer guide was published by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in January. The guide highlights all the optional fees imposed by carriers so passengers can see and compare the array of extras at a glance. Transport Secretary Justine Greening says consumers want to know that they will pay the price advertised. However, many fares seem to have unexpected fees for things ranging from reserved seating to the actual booking transaction. It’s time carriers were more transparent about these extra charges, she added.
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