Aer Lingus and the Free Flights

By | Category: Travel rumblings

I’ve just had one of those e-mails that says the ticket is free. You just pay the taxes and charges. This one has come from Aer Lingus. I need to go to Belfast in the next couple of weeks so I thought I’d see how much it would eventually cost me. In my mind I was thinking of maybe £20-£30 after the APD (Air Passenger Duty) was included. How wrong I was!
It took me some while to find the free flights. Putting in different days took a while and, often, the only choices were where I would end up spending about an hour there or staying overnight, neither of which appealed. Eventually I wound up with about 5 hours there which would be good enough for my purposes.
The cost of the return ticket? £65.98
How this figure is reached I can’t tell you. There is a £10 handling fee (in lieu, I suppose, of a charge for a credit card which means they can charge debit card holders as well perhaps) and £55.98 for taxes and charges. There is a little icon to click on that explains these charges. All I learnt was that the security charge was £8 per flight in the UK so that gave me £16 plus the £10. I was still £39.98 adrift. The website told me about September 11th security fees, (payable only if I was going to the US) the Irish Government’s Air Travel Tax (again this didn’t apply) and fuel surcharges payable if I was to fly long haul. (which Belfast patently isn’t)
In these days of transparency when the EU has legislated so that things should be clearer I would have expected an airline like Aer Lingus to be a little more honest and explain where the other £39.98 was going to. No doubt it is justifiable and relates to being able to help pay for the fuel or the pilot’s cup of tea or the baggage handling I won’t use. But it would be nice to know.
Incidentally this is the same airline that is the 7th highest earning from ancillary services (food, booking charges, seat allocation, first-on, hold baggage etc.) On average, each Aer Lingus passenger contributed a further €16.72 from charges or additional 14% of all the revenue.

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