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Over a third of UK holidaymakers think budget airlines are taking them for a ride with pricing

27 August 2015

Over a third of UK holidaymakers still think they’re being taken for a ride when it comes to budget airline pricing, according to new research from Travel Insurance.

In a survey of over 1800 UK adults who’ve holidayed abroad, 38% felt that budget flight pricing is misleading with low cost giants Ryanair and easyJet being flagged as the worst for advertising low fares which turn out to be not so low on closer inspection. 29% of respondents said that they’d never been able to get a flight as cheaply as the advertised price.

28% of consumers have found that the charges added to the cost of the flight often add up to more than the basic ticket price and 43% don’t think budget flights are that cheap when you add on the charges for hold luggage and extras.

Despite Ryanair promising greater pricing transparency, 37% of consumers still felt that Ryanair had misleading prices whilst 27% thought the same about easyJet. In third place was Flybe with 9%.

Researchers at put the airlines’ pricing policies to the test and found that if all you want is a no frills flight, generally speaking, what you see is what you get. However, if you want a few extras like reserved seating and hold luggage, there’s not a lot between the budget and a premium airlines’ pricing. looked at flights from London airports to Bordeaux departing on the 2nd of September and returning on the 9th September. In each case researchers chose the cheapest flights available regardless of the flight times. The prices include taxes and airport charges. The two budget options allowed for hand luggage only to a maximum size of 56cmx45cmx25cm and maximum weight of 10kg. Ryanair, easyJet and BA also allow an extra small bag such as laptop bag, briefcase or handbag to be stowed under the seat. With the extras, researchers selected the cheapest reserved seats and minimum hold luggage option, plus the cheapest payment method which in all cases was by debit card.

The cost of not-so budget flights:


Headline outbound flight price

Inbound flight price

Total return flights price

Reserved seating

(per seat)

Hold luggage

Total with extras





£5.99 e/w

£25.00 e/w (max 15kg)






£3.49 e/w

£28.00 rtn (max 20kg)


British Airways


(Standard Economy)



Included up to 23kg


*Prices checked on the 2nd July 2015 for one adult passenger

Caroline Lloyd from Travel Insurance commented:

“Some budget airlines have attracted criticism in recent years for offering deals which are seemingly impossible to achieve. Ryanair and easyJet had the worst reputation for misleading pricing amongst the consumers who took part in our survey. However, our research has found that as long as passengers realise the advertised price is for a one-way flight without any extras, like reserved seating or hold luggage, both airlines’ pricing are generally clear and accurate.

“However, 43% of consumers think that once ‘extras’ like hold baggage and reserved seats are added, the budget airlines aren’t that much cheaper than other scheduled airlines. And according to our research, they’re right. In this instance, the difference between flying with British Airways or Ryanair when choosing reserved seating and a suitcase in the hold was under £3.00. Plus with BA you get a more generous hold luggage allowance and complimentary in-flight drinks and snacks.

“The moral of the story is to look beyond just the headline price and compare the whole package. If you’re happy with ‘no frills’ then the budget airlines are hard to beat. However, once you start adding extras like reserved seating and a suitcase or two, don’t ignore the traditional and premium scheduled airlines. You may find it doesn’t cost that much more to travel in a bit more comfort and style.”


Notes to editors:

Flight prices gathered from the airlines’ own websites on the 2nd July 2014. Prices are for one adult passenger.

*On 17 March 2015, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 1,820 randomly selected British adults who are Maximiles UK panelists and have holidayed abroad.  The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.