ATAB commissioned a survey of the REAL fares paid by a family of four to one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations – Palma, in Mallorca, Spain for June 2012, at the start of the peak holiday season. Following up to an identical survey conducted for June 2011. air travel   price comparison

Five popular airlines were selected, all running flights from either London or a major regional airport on the week of June 20, 2012.

The lowest fare advertised was  £167 per person up from £23 the previous year, outbound and £112.00 per person return up from £29.99 for June 2012.

NB these figures were calculated if flights were booked at the beginning of March 2012. Figures change on a daily basis, particularly if a date is chosen nearer the time of departure

Comparison of Airlines actual costs vs. advertised costs

Comparison Ryanair Easyjet Flybe BMI Baby BA
Departure From Stansted Stansted Southampton Birmingham London City
Fare OUT per pass £167.41 £180.99 £201.98 £229.99 £354
Fare BACK per pass £112.21 £135.99 £146.43 £173.99 £209
Total per passenger £279.62 £316.98 £348.41 £403.98 £563
FAMILY OF FOUR £1118.48 £1267.92 £1393.64 £1615.92 £2252.00
Fees/Taxes OUT £132.68 Included £136.12 Included Included
Fees/Taxes BACK £95.88 Included £73.92 Included Included
Web check-in/ adminisistration Charges £48 £9 £0 £0 £0
Airport Service £0 £0 £0 £64.00 £0
Bags 2x20kg 2x15kg £160 £120 £99.92 £127.92 £0
Fuel supplement £0 £0 £24 £0 £0
Credit card charge Incl. in check in fee. £34.92 £36 £0 £18
Total £1555.04 £1431.84 £1763.60 £1807.84 £2270.00
% more on fare  39% 12.9% 27% 10.61% 0.8%
% more on fare+taxes 15.4% 12.9% 10% 10.61% 0.8%
Advertised Cost (Family of 4) (£) 1118.48 1267.92 1393.64 1615.92 2252.00
Total with Fees+Taxes 1347.03 1267.92 1603.68 1615.92 2252.00
Fare+taxes+charges. 1555.04 1431.84 1763.60 1807.84 2270.00

Compared to the initial price quoted, we found in our survey that by the time the customer had clicked the last box to book, the following increases were levied:

Ryanair +39%  (down from +165% June 2011);
Easyjet +12.9 (down from +32% June 2011);
Flybe +27% (down from 86% June 2011)
BMIBaby +10.61% (down from +118% June 2011);
BA +0.8% (down from +2% June 2011).

The figures, even after adding the fare, taxes and surcharges, showed the following increases levied (for luggage, credit card etc):

Ryanair: +15.4% (Down from 82% in June 2011)
Easyjet:  The same as taxes were accurately included within the flight cost.
Flybe: +10% (Down from +23% in June 2011);
BMIBaby: The same as taxes were accurately included within the flight cost.
BA: The same as above as taxes were accurately included within the flight cost.

The figures offer a marked improvement over last years results and although still not transparent at least the data is trending very much in the right direction.

In June 2011 only Easyjet and BA included taxes in the cost of their flights this survey highlights that BMI have also started to do the same and this should be commended.

However as in June 2011 still no airline provided the real cost of these flights at the outset. All finishing with either a credit card surcharge, additional costs for luggage. In the present economic climate it would be folly not to pay by credit card, since that is the best cover if the airline goes bust or fails to deliver the service.

Charges are applied by the majority of airlines at seemingly arbitrary rates for a whole host of essential elements of the holiday: luggage, airport ‘services’ fuel  surcharges. We also suspect airlines of hiding behind the Government’s Air Passenger Duty to add unwarranted ‘taxes’ on passengers.

We think it is reasonable for two adults to take 20kg of luggage each. Some airlines like British Airways agree. But others wanted to charge £160 (Ryan Air) for the luggage alone. Flybe had reduced the cost of taking luggage down to £99.00 from £191.84 the previous year.

Some airlines ensured that costs of government taxes, fees and surcharges were fully revealed in the headline figures (BA, Easyjet and BMI), while others added the taxes later.

Two airlines charged you for simply booking online (and would charge double if you tried off-line) – Ryanair charges an extra £48.

Unlike all the other airlines, BMI Baby levied a £64 ‘airport service’ which had been raised from £56 last year .

Even when it comes to calculating fixed taxes from the Government, no two airlines appear to charge the same sum. They get away with this by lumping taxes together with other unspecified taxes. We believe that airlines should be required to state the actual amount of tax, and not hide behind the Government when they impose other costs on passengers.

As customers click through these websites, other ruses are deployed by some of these airlines. Several ask you to select your seat. They DO NOT tell you that this is optional. So the unwary passenger can add £8.50p or more per passenger, and only realise that this is optional if they IGNORE the seat-preference boxes and click ‘continue’ at the foot of the webpage.

Most airlines heavy-sell their insurance. If you opt out of insurance, there is a severe-looking pop-up box that urges you to think again. Customers would, of course, be much better advised to look at independent rates for holiday insurance, or consider an annual policy if they are frequent flyers.

If you want to take your own child booster seat for your hire car, most airlines levy a charge. The same is true of sports equipment and other items.

air travel price comparison