No-frills air fares are bumped up by 'extras'

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The Independent Travel

Passengers using budget airlines sometimes pay more in "extras" for basic services than they do for the actual cost of a flight, according to a study.

Which? found many budget airlines charged between 22 and 32 for services that were once provided free, such as putting luggage in the hold.

Europe's biggest budget airline Ryanair was the worst culprit, charging 4 for credit card payments, 4 for airport check-in and 20 for stowing baggage on a return trip. Rivals Easyjet, BMI Baby and FlyBe charged slightly less, adding about 25 to a return flight.

Given that many budget flights cost little more than 10, the extras could double or treble the advertised price of flights. No-frills carriers have been levying fees for extras such as using a check-in or priority boarding since FlyBe introduced charges for hold baggage in December 2005.

Airlines say they are keeping the basic price low for passengers who save money by booking online and taking only cabin luggage. But Which? complained that passengers could pay significant charges at the airport if they were going on holiday with luggage.

Peter Sherrard, of RyanAir, defended the "avoidable" charges and said: " Which? has never uttered a word against the great fuel surcharge rip-off. British Airways is now charging 116 for long-haul, that's increased 23 times since 2003."