3 budget airline gimmicks to avoid this Summer
Regardless of their reputation, when times are tighter than a pig in a passage you find yourself putting your holiday in the hands of a budget airline. And while not everyone has a bad experience of these skymongerers, it's all too easy to have your wallet burgled. Here are three optional extras from three budget airlines to avoid this Summer:
easyJet - Speedy Boarding (£6.50 per person, per flight)
easyJet don't allocate seats on booking, so there's often a scrum for the precious few seats with extra legroom, or those near the front of the plane - as if boarding first makes any difference once you're all waiting for your bags. Regardless, easyJet offer Speedy Boarding so you can "be among the first through the gate to get the widest choice of seats".
For a family of four, Speedy Boarding on a return flight will cost you £52. Unless you've flown the route several times and know the boarding procedures inside out, don't bother. Many airports in both the UK and abroad require shuttle buses to transport you from the terminal building to the plane. Speedy boarding may guarantee you're the first to board the bus, but you'll have no guarantee of boarding the plane ahead of the pack.
easyJet at least acknowledge the criticism; when Speedy Boarding is offered during the booking procedure online, the text reads:
"You have to be at the gate when boarding starts. If you’re bussed to the aircraft we can’t always guarantee you’re off the bus first."
Even that is misleading; "we can't always guarantee" should read "we cannot guarantee". Don't use this service. Ever.
Jet2 - seat reservations (£5.99 per person, per flight)
If you've booked a Jet2 flight before, you may have already been stung by this dreadful "family tax" - we like to call it that, because that's exactly what it is.
Travel with the premium airlines, and you receive seat reservations as part of the ticket price. Travel with other budget airlines - easyJet, Ryanair - and you sit where you like. Not so with Jet2; your seats aren't reserved, but neither is it a free-for-all - you have to pay to reserve a standard seat, or leave it to the luck of the draw on the day. The website warns you:
"Make sure you all sit together by selecting your seats now!"
How is that different to easyJet or Ryanair? Because out of fear they won't be able sit with their partners or worse, their kids, people start paying £5.99 per person per flight to reserve seats on the plane. That means plenty of bog-standard seats are already booked in advance, so out of fear of having to sit three rows away from your child, you have no choice but to do the same. For a family of four, that's an additional cost of £48.
We tried contacting parent company Dart Group PLC for comment but they haven't answered, so we're happy to brand them as a family unfriendly airline until they do.
Oh, and don't think we didn't notice, Jet2, that you've have just pushed up the prices of the optional extras in the past week, just in time for the Summer bookings. An extra pound has been added to both checking in bags and seat selection - a family of four with two bags who want to sit near one another have another £12 to shell out, compared to a week ago. Cheers.
Ryanair - gift vouchers (available in multiples of £25)
We're not sure who would appreciate the gift of a Ryanair flight, but clearly there are people who know somebody. If you're thinking of helping out by buying these as a gift, a couple of points to consider first. First are the terms and conditions, which include:
- There is a €5/£5 (or local currency equivalent) handling fee for processing the purchase of gift vouchers.
- Gift vouchers must be redeemed within 6 months (186 days) of the voucher issue date after which date the voucher becomes void.
- If a voucher is partially redeemed the remaining balance is void.
So unlike probably every other gift voucher you've ever bought, you'll pay Ryanair extra for guaranteeing them business, the vouchers are worthless after six months and even if they're only part-spent, Ryanair keeps the rest of the cash.
One other point worth noting - the vouchers are dispatched by email; if, for whatever reason (and there are plenty) the individual doesn't receive the voucher, they have to phone a premium rate number for assistance. Our advice? Give them the money, or buy the flights on their behalf.