11 Jul 2012
Hello to hand baggage charges
Just when you think low-cost airlines can’t come up with another way to part you from your money, a new charge appears. For once, it’s not Ryanair (who are presumably kicking themselves and poised to follow suit), it’s budget carrier Wizz Air which is planning to charge not only for hold luggage but hand baggage too.
So far, it’s starting on a trial basis from August 1 on the route between Luton and Katowice, Poland, with any passenger travelling with a bag bigger than 42 x 32 x 25cm being charged an extra 10 Euros, currently around £8. If it’s smaller, it’s still free as long as you can wedge it under the seat in front (bye bye leg room). And if it’s heavier than 10kg, then it automatically goes into the hold at a cost of at least 20 Euros.
As I ponder a future where I’m not only checking my own bags, but paraphernalia for the mini traveller – including potentially the kind of thing you can’t fold up small, like car seats, buggy, travel cot – it’s not a great sign.
The airline is already planning to introduce the charge across the rest of its routes if the trial is successful, which include Prague, Split and Ljubljana, all of which I’d happily visit or revisit en famille. And I’ve got no doubt the low-cost competition is keeping a very close eye on what happens with Wizz, before adding it to their own tariff.
Cynical? I don’t think so, given that Ryanair once wanted me to pay an additional fee for taking a newspaper and hat onto the plane as I couldn’t fit either into my one bag (I wore the hat and ditched the newspaper).
The only winners seem to be the national airlines. While the initial costs for the budget flights might seem a bargain, once you’ve totted up the cost of their additional charges, needing to get to more far-flung airports and often being treated like a plane-cluttering menace, the all-in price for the major carriers suddenly starts to seem a lot more reasonable.