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Budget airlines can cost families £87 (about R1 000) more per booking than mainstream carriers, a report has found.
Once hidden surcharges for baggage, seat reservations, priority boarding and administrative services were added, the seemingly low-cost fares overtook those of their “expensive” rivals, according to comparison website Idealo.co.uk.
It analysed flight prices from ten airlines over four short-haul routes for a family of four, including two adults, a child and an infant.
The cost of reasonable extras that a family might require – such as baggage, storing a pram in the hold or sitting next to one another – were also taken into account.
Four of the carriers were budget airlines, easyJet, Ryanair, Germanwings and Norwegian, and the remaining six were established carriers, British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Air France, Air Berlin and Swiss.
The return short-haul flights analysed were from London to Berlin, Barcelona and to beach destinations Palma in Majorca and Alicante in Spain.
It said that the mainstream carriers offered prices that were on average £87 less per booking than the budget airlines once the necessary extras were added.
The report said that when allowance is made for the children’s fares, families from the UK will spend on average £29 more per seat with a budget airline. As toddlers under the age of two can fly free on the lap of a parent on most airlines, the difference mounted to £87 in total.
Specifically, the report found that from London to Berlin, British Airways offered direct flights which were £49 cheaper per seat than Ryanair and £15 cheaper than easyJet.
And from London to Barcelona, British Airways offered a direct flight that was £47 less expensive per seat than easyJet and £38 cheaper than Ryanair.
When all surcharges were excluded, both budget airlines were cheaper than the BA alternative.
The budget airlines offered the cheapest flight for only one of the four routes, London to Alicante.
An Idealo spokesman said: “The results should not vilify budget airlines, as they can provide an excellent value to certain types of travellers.
“However, as in the case of family travel, budget airlines are not always the best choice for short-haul routes.”
The finding comes after the Civil Aviation Authority started naming and shaming airlines in January in an online consumer guide, highlighting the “optional extra fees” that are being levied. It covers the top 23 airlines and 84 percent of passengers travelling to and from the UK, and is being updated quarterly. - Daily Mail