1 November 2022, London Marriott Hotel County Hall
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Understanding the true costs around low cost carriers is more complicated than you might think, says Paul East, chief commercial officer for Wings Travel Management.
Travellers booking a flight on a “low-cost” airline can often end up paying far more than expected, with hidden charges adding up. The majority of these hidden charges are unavoidable and include payment card, check-in and baggage fees, costs for carrying sport and musical equipment as well as added insurance to your booking.
Perhaps it is time we look at the name “low-cost” carriers and start to use a more relevant term such as “regional” carriers?
Over the past 12 months it seems the pricing difference between low cost carriers and conventional carriers has now all but disappeared and the need for fare comparison software is more relevant than ever. Just like the car insurance comparison websites, this would be ideal if you are looking for the basics, but with travel you need to also consider flight times and the journey time to and from the airport, let alone all the ancillary charges.
Living in Buckinghamshire there are numerous airlines and airports to chose from so you would think it would be easy to choose which flights to take, but in today’s environment you have to count the cost for placing a bag into the hold of the aircraft, or if you really feel it appropriate to board the aircraft first and being charged for online check-in. On top of this, you still have to be mindful of airport locations, which could increase the journey time and total cost of the trip if you need to travel too far.
What I am also finding more and more concerning is the regional airports’ ability to cope with the amount of passengers using the airport. On a recent business trip to Aberdeen I thought it would be quicker and easier to fly out of Luton, which was not the case. At 05:20 in the morning I was in a traffic jam for 55 minutes around the airport road so I could park at the mid-term car park – it would have been quicker to go to Heathrow or Birmingham. When I asked what had happened with the traffic that day, I was told: “It’s like this every day.”
Price will always be important to me but on the last 3 comparisons that I have looked, conventional carriers came out cheaper. For example, British Airways is around £80 per ticket cheaper on flights to Cyprus than its low-cost competitors.
Don’t get me wrong, I do believe regional carriers certainly play a vital role in our industry – but let’s not assume that they will always be cheaper. When we asked many of our travellers what is the real driver for using them, many will say that the regional airport is closer to home, making travel more convenient. As long as you don’t get caught up in 55-minute traffic jams, I would agree.