SIMON CALDER COLUMN

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The Independent Travel
Domestic air travel has never been cheaper. EasyJet has just launched services between Aberdeen and Luton, for a one-way price is pounds 34 (including tax) - the same as this infant airline charges for flights from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Luton. In order to charge just one-third of the rail fare, EasyJet sells direct, with a no-refunds policy. Once the company's operator has taken your credit card number and issued flight details, you cannot get your money back.

Julie Povey writes from Hertfordshire to say this system is "stacked against the rights of the customer".

"Five minutes after booking a flight to Edinburgh for ourselves and our three young children, my husband realised he had miscalculated our travelling times and attempted to swap to an earlier flight. Despite offering to cover any costs, my husband was assured he could do nothing to alter, cancel or even give away the seats.

"If I bought a dress which I later found to be unsuitable, I may not have the right to exchange it, although most stores would see the advantage of maintaining goodwill. But I could at least give it away." To add insult to injury, having forfeited nearly pounds 200 in five minutes, Ms Povey has now found that "the seats we have paid for but cannot use may be re-sold by EasyJet when, as is inevitable, we fail to check in."

A less scrupulous person than Ms Povey might suggest giving or selling the tickets to someone else. Airlines within Britain do not check passports; you just have to be roughly the right gender. Yet not only does this break aviation rules, it is also impossible on EasyJet. The airline does not issue tickets; instead, you are told to turn up with identification to claim your seat. Bargains don't always come cheap.

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