Why booking flights with Jet2 is a miserable, unfair experience
Time to begin planning the Summer holidays again, which means across the north of the country, thousands of customers are forced to endure Jet2's excruciatingly convoluted and unfair booking system. I don't say that lightly; not only are customers continuously and illegally opted-in to charges, but some practices are now so obscure that customers have little choice but to pay the fees.
To prove what a bunch of opportunistic, scheming swines they are - Ryanair look near-saintly in comparison at times - we've prepared a booking for a family of two adults and two children, flying return from Manchester to Murcia in June.
The price of the flights I've chosen are initially advertised at £295.92. To begin with, the fares displayed to exclude tax; there's no reason they should do, but the lower the cost, the more likely you are to select a fare. So after choosing our fares, the tax is lumped on:
Tax isn't so much of a shock when booking flights, but then the small print mentions "booking/payment card fees" and "option fees/charges" are excluded. We soon find out what these are - simply by clicking through to the next page, the cost of my booking has increased nearly £160; Jet2 has added £32 for online check-in and opted all four travellers into an item of hold luggage, despite two of them being children. These have to be removed manually, one at a time. The check-in charge drops to £16:
Next is the seat selection which costs a minimum of £3.99 per seat each way. It's a fictional, self-fulfilling fee that has no reason for existing. Jet2 claims the fee is to ensure "make sure you all sit together"; it's only because they enforce the charge that there's any danger a family can't - in all other situations passengers and crew are usually happy to accommodate a family, and it's in the best interests of all on board that they do.
It's shameful profiteering by Jet2, but we're left with no choice but to pay up. Jet2 allow a gracious 10% discount for a family booking:
We click forward to the next page, and another £140 is suddenly lumped on the bill; Jet2 have opted everyone into in-flight meals (£52) and travel insurance (£49), and slapped a £40 fuel supplement on top. Really? I have to deselect nine options to opt out and return my booking to its original cost, aside from the mandatory fuel supplement:
Finally, I pay for my flights. If I want to pay by credit card, it'll cost £41. Debit card will cost me £20, and even PayPal will cost £29. Only the mythical Solo or Electron card will mean I don't pay through the nose to pay through the nose.
And guess what? Today's the day that Solo cards are scheduled to be decommissioned permanently, while Visa Electron cards are rarer than hen's teeth - the only UK bank that provides them is the Bank of Scotland (and even then, the bank warns it may take over a week to even review your application). To avoid paying any fee is simply unrealistic and most customers will have to pay the next lowest fee by debit card:
Just so were clear then, Jet2 will charge me over £600 for flights that were originally advertised at less than half that price. Strictly speaking, there's £49 I didn't have to pay, but it's entirely unrealistic to expect the majority of passengers to sit apart from their children - or wait over a week before the Bank of Scotland looks at the paperwork for a VISA Electron card.
This is a big issue; not only are Jet2 making the whole booking process far longer and more miserable than it needs to be, not only are they confusing customers as to the true costs of the flights, but they also appear to be flouting the law. Travel writer David Whitley clearly pinpoints the issue in a piece he wrote about similar practices by Flybe:
Regulation 1008/2008 of the European Parliament and Council became law in 2008. Amongst the more salient passages is this one: “Customers should be able to compare effectively the prices for air services of different airlines. Therefore the final price to be paid by the customer for air services originating in the Community should at all times be indicated, inclusive of all taxes, charges and fees.”
And here’s another one: “Optional price supplements shall be communicated in a clear, transparent and unambiguous way at the start of any booking process and their acceptance by the customer shall be on an ‘opt-in’ basis.”
Even Ryanair have learnt better than to opt customers into hundreds of pounds worth of extras they don't neccessarily want; if you can't claim to have morals as high as Ryanair, your business deserves to be thrown on a very big bonfire. Happy flying.