easyJet and Transparent Pricing

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Easyjet specialise in affordable flights

When is an airline fare increase not an increase? When it is an administrative charge because, theoretically, you needn’t pay it.
Have you ever heard such a load of old horsefeathers? It’s a blatant increase. The perpetrator of this slight-of-hand this time is easyJet which has nearly trebled the cost of using a debit card from £3.50 last September to £8 today. For credit cards it charges £12.95. Why such a increase?
easyJet says it is because they have had significant cost increases. To Travel Weekly, one of the travel trade magazines, the airline said the increases had occurred in rising costs for the call centre, the website, marketing and acquisition costs. Notice nothing about increased fuel costs. Those, it appears, easyJet can bear. What it can’t absorb are these admin costs. Most companies faced with a near trebling of their costs in such a short time would panic, fire managers and look at their suppliers. easyJet just admits to the world that it cannot control its costs and tells customers they must pay for their lack of management monitoring skills. Except it isn’t like that is it? This is a bald faced raising of prices by seemingly not increasing the basic price that they can advertise their flights for.
Take a typical flight. I looked at a return to Milan from Gatwick. The price was £43.75. If I pay with a credit card it is £56.70 (almost a 30% increase on the fare) and if I use a debit card it is a mere 18% increase at £51.75. I can, of course, use a Visa Electron card which will let me buy it at the quoted price. But these seem to be on the way out and aren’t widely accepted anywhere other than on no-frills airlines anyway.
To be fair to easyJet the price is good. It is cheaper than many others. And their admin charges are dwarfed by Ryanair who charge per passenger per flight. (And now a €2 compensation levy in case they have to pay out for late flights or cancellations.) But what I object to is the way that no-frills airlines in particular crow about cheap prices and not having fuel surcharges but have regular administrative cost increases. What’s so wrong about saying our fares have risen by x%? Do they believe we won’t fly? What happened to an all-in price that the EU was fostering so the price you saw was the price that was paid?
One source estimates that this will raise £81 million for easyJet. No wonder airline shares went up on the stock exchange. In the minds of travellers though, the standing of no-frills airlines went in the opposite direction.

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