Airlines are inflating fares by up to £36 per person by imposing “hidden charges” for bags, better seats, extra leg room and speedy boarding, an analysis of 63 airlines has found.
The amount of money collected for added extras increased by almost 21 per cent last year amid a boom in the popularity of budget carriers, the report said.
Fees for checking in bags accounted for the largest amount of costs, followed by other charges such as paying for a better seat, onboard wi-fi, food and drink and access to the airport lounge.
The study found that product “bundles” were becoming popular as passengers paid a lump sum for added extras “in the same manner as a meal deal at a McDonald’s restaurant”.
Jet2.com, the British low-cost carrier, was found to have the highest additional charges of any airline, with an average of £36.59 added to each ticket. In all, 28.5 per cent of its total revenue came from ancillary costs, it emerged.
Almost a quarter of Ryanair’s income came from add-ons. The Irish airline, the busiest carrier in Europe, added £13.68 to the price of each ticket when extra charges were included.
Its website lists 24 optional fees, including charges to sit in the front row, process credit card transactions or change the name on a booking.
Rising numbers of people, reportedly 9,000 a day, are buying the airline’s “business plus” package, which gives passengers free airport check-in, a premium seat, priority boarding and fast track through airport security.
Other British airlines close to the top of the list included Flybe, which made 20.7 per cent of money from add-ons at an average of £17.98 per ticket. Additional costs accounted for 18.8 per cent of easyJet’s revenues, adding £14.63 to the cost of fares.
The report by IdeaWorks, a US airline consulting firm, found that the 63 airlines made “ancillary revenue” of $38.1 billion last year.