I have written at some length about airline luggage allowances before but it would appear that the situation is becoming ever more complex. As if paying extra for checking luggage wasn’t already a big enough pain, now airlines are inventing more and more ways to charge for the things that you take on to the aircraft. Not only does this mean that flying is getting more costly, it also makes price comparison a lengthy and arduous process. The price of a ticket is supposed to be transparent but frankly it is now as clear as mud.
That is unless you routinely travel with nothing except your underwear stuffed in your pockets. The carry on allowances are fine if you are taking a business trip or a short break but if you are away for more than a few days then forget it. Mind you, even if you only take a carry-on bag that doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t end up in the hold. So many people are now trying to avoid the tyranny of checked luggage charges that there isn’t enough room in the cabin to accommodate all of the bags and so the airlines inevitably end up forcing some passengers to check their luggage anyway. This, of course, is ironic. They claim that handling the checked bags is costly and slows down the turn-around times, hence the high charges, but the pricing policy has forced so many passengers to take smaller bags that many end up travelling in the hold for free!
Some of the airlines are also rather over-zealous about enforcing the one carry on piece only rule. If you have the nerve to turn up with a handbag as well as your carry-on luggage you are forced to stuff it into your main bag before boarding. This is truly ridiculous as the handbag will doubtless come out again as soon as you are past the enforcer, I mean stewardess, at the aircraft door.
I have found out to my cost that airlines are now really stingy or even downright unpleasant about sports equipment. If you are going on a skiing trip beware because some of the charges for ski bags are borderline ludicrous. Indeed, when pricing up my last winter flight I discovered that with come carriers my ski bag was going to cost twice as much as my seat. Some airlines charge as much as £200 return for sports equipment which is just a little bit nuts when the base cost of a ticket is £90 return. Ryanair justify their £80 return charge for skis by saying that sport equipment is “inherently unsuitable for carriage by airlines operating fast turnarounds”. What a load of BS!
One wonders what we will all be charged for next. Perhaps there will be a fee for wearing your clothes, forcing people to travel naked. This policy could be justified by explaining that nudity would be better for security and would remove the need for scanners. I am seriously considering an attempt to bypass luggage charges by taking a carry-on bag and simply wearing everything that won’t fit in it. I may well actually end up having to stuff my bras and Sloggi Basics into my pockets and wear several layers.
I wonder if I could get away with wearing my skis? It is now almost impossible to fly to Europe with ski equipment without incurring a ridiculous surcharge. Perhaps wearing them is the way forward but then I would have to pay extra for a seat with more leg room because, of course, there is a charge for that as that as there is for allocated seating and priority boarding. There were even rumours about Michael O’Leary attempting to charge for using the toilet. For god’s sake! The long and short of it is that a £50 return bargain flight can soon turn into a £350 hit and then some. To find out what you are really going to pay, if you have the nerve to take enough clothes for your trip, you will have a lot of research to do. I can’t help feeling that airlines are cutting off their noses to spite their faces here. Just charge a reasonable fair including luggage and have done with. That’s what I say.
Article By Sally Stacey