If you've ever tried to work out the true full-and-final cost of a flight on a budget airline and thought 'Tsk. You need a ruddy degree for this,' read on.
Let's break down a couple of offers out there at the moment. Ryanair is offering more of its 1p bonanzas, which includes flights to Stockholm from London Stansted. Meanwhile, the traditional airline SAS has a seat sale with one-way flights for £39 each from Heathrow. Both have availability for February half-term. So who to choose? Ryanair is cheaper, right?
The SAS option for two adults and two children under 16, which includes allocated seats, check-in, baggage allowance and taxes but not meals comes in at a shade under £250. That's around £62 each, even cheaper than the advertised headline rate because children get 33% off. This is a brilliant deal.
With Ryanair on the other hand it seems to be anyone's guess. Basic flights plus taxes come in at around £150 for four. Not bad. But that doesn't include getting checked in. Or baggage. Or allocated seats. Checking in with a bag in the hold each cost £18 x 4 = £72. Priority boarding so there's a chance you might sit together a further £6 each, or £24. These charges are not specified on the page designed to explain the hidden charges. On another page there's something described as a 'handling charge' that it says is not included but doesn't then doesn't say what it is. There's probably more. Even without any extra unknowns, the family of four with a bag each and a chance of a seat together will pay... the same as SAS, give or take about three quid.
And what you should do this lunchtime and any luncthime you are considering booking a low-cost flight is to compare the traditional carriers. One of the great things about these new airlines is that they have pushed down prices across the board.
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Footnote: Ryanair also has a 0p fare offer running at the moment. But 'All Holidays, School Breaks and Major Sporting Events are excluded from this offer' - doing your average family wishing to travel during half-term out of 4p.
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