Budget airlines are sneakily ramping up surcharges for millions of passengers before the summer holidays.
They include extra charges for Âchecking bags into the hold, reserving seats and paying by credit card.
Thomson has hiked its hold luggage charges from ÂŁ25 to ÂŁ30 EACH WAY on short haul flights and from ÂŁ40 to ÂŁ50 on long haul, while BMIbaby has introduced check-in fees â ÂŁ11 at the airport and ÂŁ8 online â which were previously part of the ticket price.
EasyJet has started charging passengers up to ÂŁ12 to reserve seats even though it already has a âspeedy boardingâ option for between ÂŁ4.50 and ÂŁ14 per flight.
Low-cost rival Ryanair, headed by outspoken boss Michael O'Leary, expects passengers to pay ÂŁ10 more for using seats with extra legroom by emergency exits. The airline is also increasing fees for checking in a standard 20kg bag into the hold from ÂŁ20 to ÂŁ25 for online bookings from June until September.
Airlines blame the increased charges on a variety of rising costs, from fuel prices to websites. But critics say they are another set of stealth charges to generate extra income and squeeze more cash out of hard-pressed passengers.
Airlines make around ÂŁ100million year from debit and credit card processing charges, which are due to be made illegal at the end of the year.
The extra surcharges are highlighted by the website www.aph.com, which tracks prices to help travellers plan ahead so they can keep costs down. Spokesman Nick Caunter said: âIt's important to compare current charges that travellers are faced with when booking flights.
âPassengers should be aware of these extra charges, which make the final cost more than the headline seat price.â
Consumer group Which? said: âAirlines should not use extra charges as a way to bolster their profits. All charges should be fair and made clear when booking.â