Ten really annoying extra charges when flying - and how to avoid them

From booking online to being picked up at your destination, air travel these days is one long gauntlet run of sneaky extra charges which leave us annoyed and considerably worse off. Here are the ones which really drive us round the bend.

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Ten really annoying extra charges when flying - and how to avoid them

This is the mother of all unfair charges. Strictly speaking, all the other charges are optional - you don't HAVE to carry luggage, or take your baby with you when you fly, or use a luggage trolley, but where's the alternative to actually booking your tickets, using a credit or debit card? Paying for paying? It's just plain wrong.

Poor old smokers. Not only do they have to live with the knowledge that they're shortening their lives with each cigarette they smoke, and paying almost £5 in tax with each packet they buy, but now filthy-lunged travellers passing through Belfast International Airport will have to shell out £1 each time they use the designated outdoor smoking area. How to avoid? Do we really have to spell it out?

Many airports provide the now-obligatory transparent plastic bags for liquids free of charge, but not so airports like Stansted and Manchester, which sting you for a quid if you forget to transfer your bottles into an approved bag before leaving home. The solution: check in your liquids, buy travel size bottles of toiletries for your trip after security, or just raid your mum's kitchen drawers for zip-loc freezer bags so you're never caught short.

A friend recently booked her honeymoon Ryanair flights in her married name, realised her passport would still be in her maiden name, so called back to change the name and got walloped with an £160 charge. £160? To change one name?? Perhaps the call centre workers are on bankers' salaries, but somehow we doubt it. Check carefully before paying this one, as most of the time you'd be better off just buying a whole new ticket.

There's nothing more likely to kill your holiday buzz than arriving home off your 1.30am flight, fetching your bags off the baggage carousel and then finding that there's a £1 charge for the trolley - and you're only carrying Kronor. The solution? Invest in a nifty trolley token key ring and you'll always be sorted for both airports and supermarkets.

We get that we can't all expect to travel like Victoria Beckham, trolleys piled high with Louis Vuitton trunks, but we would like to take a few presents and souvenirs in our suitcases without being charged up to £40 a kilo in overweight charges. It would also be nice to be able to carry a magazine and bottle of water onto the plane without having to stuff them into our already bulging carry on bags. Until that civilised day comes, it pays to weigh your bags before leaving for the airport and make sure you pay for any hold luggage online, as it's considerably more expensive at check-in or at the gate.

Nowhere else in life is the scope for extra charges so eagerly exploited as in the aviation world. You don't get on a bus and get asked by the driver if you want to 'upgrade' to a top level, front row seat, nor do you pay a supplement for 'better' seats at the cinema, but in the crazy world of flying, forking out anything from £8 to £130 for exit row seats with extra legroom is now considered normal. Don't encourage the airlines by paying these charges, instead use the opportunity to practice your lotus pose.

It's a pretty messed up world in which its possible to pay more for a baby's ticket than your own - especially when your little cherub doesn't even get a seat of his own. Some might say this is a justifiable payment to compensate for screaming and crying and ruining all the other passengers' journeys but we don't hold with those kind of baby-hating views. No way round this one, just be thankful you don't have twins.

Ok, this one hasn't actually happened yet (despite rumblings from Ryanair a couple of years ago) but it's only a matter of time before you have to spend a pound to spend a penny.

Remember that montage scene in Love Actually showing hundreds of happy people reunited with their loved ones at the airport arrivals area? Well, forget about experiencing that particular moment of joy ever again because no one can afford the extortionate charges for parking and picking up any more. Instead, we make complicated arrangements to meet at rainy, distant drop off areas or a random petrol station a mile from the airport, which saves money but definitely lacks romance.


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