Just a few years ago it was the norm when you flew abroad on a package holiday to receive a ‘delightful’ but free airline breakfast, lunch or dinner and at least one free drink on shorthaul package holidays to Europe.
But it would seem since the creation of budget airlines that holiday companies (stand up First Choice, Thomson, et al) think it’s acceptable to charge you for your inflight food and drink even when you haven’t paid budget prices for your package holiday.
Holiday companies, without reducing their holiday prices, have happily jumped on the ‘budget airline’ bandwagon of making us pay to eat on their planes while charging premium holiday prices.
And it would seem that we’ve all gone ‘ok then of course you can change me an arm and a leg for a sandwich and a drink on top of the thousands we’ve already paid you for our holiday. On my recent First Choice flight to Lanzarote it cost £3.90 for a chicken sandwich and £1.60 for a can of coke .
It’s not just the inflight food they’re charging for either it’s extra luggage weight. It’s pay to sit together, pay to get more legroom, pay to book your seat in advance.
What on earth is going on? And who said it was ok to start charging us?
As you can probably tell I’ve just returned from holiday. I booked my holiday through First Choice and I paid £650 per person for an all inclusive break to Lanzarote (it was the holiday from hell, but more about that another time) and then they wanted me to pay extra to ensure my family sat together. But what they didn’t highlight is that if you’re travelling as a family with children then you get to sit together for free anyway!
Upon booking online they urged me to book my seats in advance and pay for the privilege of choosing where I sat. Who remembers the days when you checked in at the airport for your package holiday and they showed you the map of the plane seats and asked you where you wanted to sit – for free?
And they wanted me to pay them so I could take more of my clothes on holiday. What they omitted to tell me was that although each suitcase has to be 15kgs or less, when you travel as a family it’s the total weight of all the suitcases that is measured not just one. So I could’ve taken 20kgs as babyboy’s case weighed just 10 kilos.
Every time I paid the holiday instalments (I paid in 3 installments) they charged me a percentage of the total paid for the pleasure of paying with a credit card. I paid by credit card because given the state of the economy I was afraid First Choice would go tits up and I’d lose my holiday and my money.
I’ve since learned that if I pay £100 on credit card and the rest on debit card I’m still covered by my credit card should anything happen to the holiday company.
Then for weeks prior to the holiday I received update emails from First Choice reminding me of all the wonderful, amazing things I could pay extra to enjoy on my flight.
Call me old school, but I expect to get what I pay for. If I’ve paid budget prices I expect to pay for extras like inflight food, drink and luggage. Well, when I’ve paid £5.50 for the flight then I don’t mind paying for a packet of Pringles once I’m on board.
But when I’ve paid premium prices for a package holiday I expect a whole different level of service and inclusions. When I book a package holiday and especially when I book an all inclusive holiday I expect it to be all inclusive from the minute I board the plane.
I want my crappy free inflight meal. I want my one free drink with it and I want it to be followed by a cup of too strong tea that I can spill down myself when the turbulence hits.
Who said it was ok for package holiday companies to start charging us for extras?
Do Ryanair and Easyjet have a lot to answer for?
Or should the holiday companies be pilloried for copying the budget airlines and sneaking these extra charges in?
Or does the blame lie with us? Are we too complacent? Should we stand and up say to these holiday companies ‘No, no more extra charges, we pay you enough bloody money for our holidays give us back our free inedible inflight meals.’