James Daley: Ryanair fares are just flights of fancy

Britain's budget airlines have revolutionised travel for millions of people over the past 10 years, bringing low-cost overseas holidays to families that previously could only afford to stay in the UK, as well as opening up European weekend breaks to couples and groups of friends who once would never have dreamt of crossing the Continent for just three days.

But, as the market has got ever more competitive over the past few years, customer service, transparency and, ultimately, value for money appear to have been sacrificed in favour of short-term profits. Having got us hooked on hopping across the Continent whenever we fancy, the budget airlines seem to believe, perhaps rightly, that even without a good service, customers will still come to them because of their low prices.

Today, buying a ticket from Ryanair's website is an experience that leaves me enraged. Although the front page flashes adverts about free or low-cost flights, the starting price no longer bears any resemblance to how much you'll finally end up paying.

Booking a return flight to Stockholm in June, for example, has a headline cost of just 2p. Add taxes and fees and that rises to £10 – still incredibly cheap. But then perhaps you need to check in a bag or two. Not only will you be collared for a fee for each piece of checked-in luggage, but you'll also be penalised for not checking in online. Two bags and airport check-in comes to a total of £42 – instantly increasing the price of your air fare fivefold.

Next up is priority boarding, which, conveniently, is automatically selected – that's another £6 (although you can opt out if you spot this). Then there's a similar trick with travel insurance, which costs you £8.93, but rather than asking you whether you want it or not, there's a rather cryptic line on the form that says: "Confirm country of residence to purchase travel insurance". It's far too easy to think this is mandatory.

By this stage, we're up to £66.93 for that 2p ticket, and there's more to come. You have to pay by card, but there's a charge for that, too – £1 each way for a debit card, £3 each way for a credit card. This one really gets me worked up – why does it matter how many flights you're buying? There's only one transaction, so it's irrelevant whether I'm flying one way or return.

So, paying with my Visa credit card, I get a total bill of £72.93 – that's 3,646 times more expensive than my original ticket. This, of course, is still cheap, but only £30 cheaper than a flight with a regular scheduled airline – £30 you'll wish you'd paid as soon as you set foot on a Ryanair flight.

When I took my mother for a weekend in Salzburg a few years ago, the turn-around of the aircraft was so quick that the cabin hadn't been cleaned – not even the vomit on the headrest of my mother's seat! And, on the newer Ryanair aircraft, the tray tables have been removed and the seats placed that much closer together – more discomfort.

Providing a bad service, however, is the airline's choice. Ultimately, it will lose customers such as me, who will never again travel on a Ryanair plane unless we absolutely have to.

But the trickery on their ticket-booking website must be stopped. It needs to be made clear from the outset that you'll be charged for checking in bags and paying by credit card, and it needs to spelt out that the insurance is optional.

Furthermore, while Ryanair is not responsible for taxes, it could take a leaf out of easyJet's book and advertise all its prices inclusive of taxes and fees. Flights for free, flights for 1p, flights for £10 – it's all meaningless until you know how much you'll be hit with in tax and other charges. It's time for Ryanair to start treating its customers with honesty and respect.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
film
News
people
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

    SThree: Graduate Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K - £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been we...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'