Kate Simon: If you're flying with Ryanair this summer, just pack a hair shirt

Sunday 23 October 2011 02:44

Who wants to spend their holiday washing clothes? That could be the reality facing travellers using Ryanair this summer. Families in particular will be penalised by the latest charge to be demanded by the no-frills airline, which is perfecting its hair-shirt approach to making money out of holidaymakers.

For, if you need to take along more than you can stuff into hand luggage, it will cost you an extra fiver to check in a bag during the peak months of July and August, a punitive measure that kicked in on Thursday.

My family is heading for the Costa Brava in Spain for our summer holiday, and the most convenient airport for our destination is Girona. The quickest way for us to get to the Spanish city is to hop in the car for the 30-minute journey from our home in Hackney to Stansted airport and take the Ryanair flight, then make the 30km drive to our final beachfront destination.

At today's price, that will cost our party of two adults and one child a total of £281.28 – very reasonable, at just less than £100 each return. To travel with checked-in luggage will cost an extra £40 per bag weighing a maximum of 15kg, or £60 for up to 20kg, making the final tally £401.28, or £461.28. Still pretty good for three summer flights, but substantially more just for the privilege of carrying suitcases, which some of us see as an essential for a holiday of a week or two.

Now, call me old-fashioned, but I thought a holiday was just that – a break from the rigours of everyday life. For me, that means no laundry for a week, and it certainly means no traipsing around clothes shops, an activity I detest at the best of times, with or without the family in tow.

And while you'd think with a job like mine I'd have packing down to an art, I might be able to do it quickly but I've also learnt to pack more, not less, to minimise time ringing out the undies (if you must know, I always pack double the number I need) or paying exorbitant hotel laundry charges. Plus I prefer to allow myself the luxury of a little choice of what to wear each day even if it means some of the garments return unworn. BO chic isn't a good look in my book.

Consequently, our family will be flying into Barcelona with easyJet. It may be 100km further from our destination – probably an extra £20 in petrol for the hire car – and we will still be paying to check in luggage, £18 return for bags up to 20kg. But the flight bill will be a healthier £359.40.

Yes, it's great that no-frills flights have opened up travel to more of us, and Ryanair has led the way with the model (though let's hope the other airlines don't ape this bad idea). But I'm determined that we won't be one of the families chucking the naff T-shirts they bought from the local hypermarket in the airport bins on the way home, or inflicting a musty odour on the cabin crew. They'll be the ones boarding a Ryanair flight.

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