Low cost airlines add up to 44% in ‘extras’ to price of a ticket

Low cost airlines add up to 44% in ‘extras’ to price of a ticket

On average, added ‘extras’ account for 37% of the total price for budget airfares compared to just 4% on standard ones; the highest charges are levied in Italy (45%) and the UK (38%), and the lowest in Germany (31%) and Spain (32%)

·      However, low cost airlines still offer an average saving of one third (-33%) over traditional carriers - rising to a saving of up to -39% if tickets are purchased nine weeks in advance

·      Low cost carriers offer much better value on international flights (-41%) than domestic flights (-20%) when compared to traditional airlines

·      Full service airlines Lufthansa (£154.51) and British Airways (£151.62) have highest average fares in the Index - -33% and -31% higher than the average fare of £103.98

·      Time of booking matters. Booking nine weeks ahead can save consumers an additional -12% off the price of a plane ticket compared to booking 7 weeks before departure

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·      Passengers travelling from Germany benefit from the best prices on low cost flights in Europe, saving -39% on average against traditional airfares, while travellers who book in Spain get the lowest savings (-24%)

Kelkoo, the travel and shopping comparison website, today announces the findings of its ‘European Flight Index’ which investigates whether low cost, budget carriers really offer better value for money than their full service competitors. The report reveals that budget airlines offer consumers savings of -33% on average over their conventional counterparts, in spite of the fact that they add up to 44% in ‘added extras’ to their standard fares.

The report commissioned by Kelkoo and produced by flight analysts RDC Aviation, compares over 5,000 air fares from 20 different airlines at 192 airports. It takes into account flights across the eight busiest competitive routes from the five busiest markets in Europe, including the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Given the complexity of sourcing a single price for an airfare, the report analysed flights sourced on six collection dates and five rolling departure dates and looked at a variety of factors that contribute to the price of a ticket including class, booking lead time, point of sale, and time of year. All airfares were collected for a ‘standard passenger’ for comparison purposes - a single adult, travelling on a return flight, on a six night stay, paying by visa, checking-in online, using a fast bag drop option for a single bag.

Adding up the extras …

On average, additional charges such as fees for card payments or costs for checking-in baggage account for 37% of the total price of low cost airfares, but can be as high as 44%. The highest charges are levied in Italy (45%) and the UK (38%), and the lowest in Germany (31%) and Spain (32%). By comparison, the cost of ‘added extras’ charged by conventional airlines make-up just 4% of the average price of a ticket.

However, despite charging passengers for a myriad of ‘additional services’ on top of the standard fare, the savings offered by budget carriers are still substantially higher than those available through ‘full service’ airlines across all the routes analysed in the report. In fact, although ‘no frills’ airfares are a third cheaper on average (-33%), prices between budget and conventional airlines can vary by as much as -56% if additional charges are not taken into account.

Chris Nixon, Managing Director, Kelkoo Travel comments: “There has been an increasing trend in recent years for airlines to offer a base price which excludes many of the extras that they used to include in their fares, such as costs to check baggage, assign a seat, and pay by credit card. Nowadays, these ancillary charges can often form a substantial proportion of the total cost of flying and there is a misconception among consumers that the prices advertised by low cost carriers can be misleading and work out more expensive than those offered by conventional airlines once all these costs are factored in. The fact is that low cost carriers remain a third cheaper than traditional airlines, despite the significant charges they levy on their passengers.”

European savings

Passengers travelling from Germany benefit from the best prices on low cost flights in Europe, saving -39% on average against traditional airfares, 6% higher compared to the average saving of -33%. Germany is followed by Italy (-36%) and France (-31%). Those flying from Spain (-24%) and the UK (-30%) make the lowest savings.

Fly further for greater savings

Low cost carriers offer much better value on international flights (-41%) than domestic flights (-20%) when compared to traditional airlines. Depending on the time of booking, the UK offers travellers the greatest variation in price when comparing the cost of international flights on ‘no frills’ and conventional airlines, with savings ranging from -19% seven weeks before travel to a maximum -50% if tickets are booked ten weeks before departure. Spain has the lowest difference in savings (34% - 41%). In any case, regardless of the destination, time of booking matters. Booking nine weeks ahead can save consumers an additional -12% off the price of a plane ticket compared to booking 7 weeks before departure.

When looking at specific airlines, the cheapest average price across all routes analysed in this report was found with Blue Panorama Airlines (£42.26) - 59% lower than the average fare of £103.98. Comparatively, full-service airlines Lufthansa (£154.51) and British Airways (£151.62) had the highest average fares (33% and 31% higher than the average). Of the budget airlines, Ryanair added the greatest proportion of extra charges on to its basic fares, with standard travellers spending 40% on top of the original cost of the ticket, at a cost of £28.20 on average. Despite this, Ryanair still offers one of the lowest average fares across all the airlines studied in the report (£72.56 compared to the report average of £103.98).

Nixon concludes: “With summer holidays round the corner, travellers should look to compare prices not just between low cost and traditional airlines, but also between specific carriers as there are substantial savings to be made by shopping around. With online travel bookings across Europe set to account for 35% of the total travel market in 2011 and predicted to be worth £73.7 billion, the internet has become an essential way of searching for the best prices. Travellers should also think about when they are planning to make their booking, as booking nine weeks in advance can save consumers an additional 12% on the price of a ticket when compared to booking seven weeks before.”

Kelkoo’s travel service is a one stop shop which will make booking your holiday a much quicker and easier process. It compares prices from up to 100 travel websites so you don’t have to, and lists over 100 airlines for thousands of worldwide destinations; more than 150,000 hotels and over 250,000 holiday packages.