Luton: A No-Frills Airport.

By | Category: Travel rumblings

We’re used to the idea of no-frills or budget airlines. These are airlines who provide a cheap price for a basic service, a service which involves little more than getting you from A to B. For anything else you pay but at least you have the right to decide what you pay for. Money earned in this way is called ancillary revenue. Last week a report from Collinson Latitude estimated that no-frills airlines were earning $12 in ancillary revenue for every passenger they carried. So for an airline that carries 1 million passengers for example, that adds up to an additional $12 million a year.
Now at looks as though we are seeing the concept of no-frills airports.
We are used to being able to drive to an airport to drop off and collect passengers. You are in and out fairly quickly. Birmingham Airport introduced a fee to go to an area to drop off passengers whereas previously, I think, you used to get 15 minutes free parking. Now Luton has followed.
From the beginning of May, it will charge £1 to drop off passengers. The alternative is that passengers be dropped off in what they call the mid term car park (ie a place a bit further away from the terminal than the short term car park so they can’t charge as much money for parking there.) which will cost nothing. Passengers will then have a free 2 minute bus ride to the terminal. But of course the buses will only pick up every so often so this will add more time than the 2 minutes suggested by the press release.
But Luton already charges £1 for a luggage trolley (which you don’t get back when you return the trolley unlike other airports), £1 for a clear plastic bag to put your liquids in (that must cost them fractions of a penny so the mark up is huge!) and £3 for a speedy way through security. Clearly the owners (who also own Cardiff and Belfast International) have their greedy eyes on the ancillary revenue volumes that no-frills airlines make. With 10 million passengers a year going through Luton, if they get only 1 million that get dropped off and picked up they will make £2 million extra per year for doing nothing other than installing a pay machine.
The Air Transport Users Council, the consumer watchdog for airline passengers, has quite rightly spotted that people, faced with these costs may switch airports. But what if there is no alternative? If you only have one airport near you or you flight destination only has planes flying from that airport you are stuck.
But do you know what really stings? The comment from Luton Airport themselves. According to the Daily Telegraph, Nic Hutton, of Luton Airport said “We have made this investment so that getting to the airport is easier and more convenient for all our passengers. Dropping passengers off can be a stressful experience; we have therefore given careful consideration to providing the right facilities and enough time for people to unload in a secure environment. Making a small charge reminds drivers of the ten minute time allocation and keeps the traffic flowing. By offering a choice of options we can provide an airport experience to suit the needs of all our passengers.”
Stressful experience! This greedy £1 imposition will add to that.
An airport experience to suit the needs of all our passengers! What does that say about what they think of passengers?

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