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Date: 06/06/2011

Budget travel shake up as surcharges may be outlawed

With trips around the world on backpacker travel insurance far more common these days, the introduction of budget airlines into the market has been key to helping keep the cost of flying down.

However, the surcharges slapped onto the price of a ticket has led to widespread criticism as the cost of a trip excluding the single trip travel insurance can nearly double once the extra fees are totted up.

Which? have submitted a super-complaint, which the Office of Fair Trading is currently reviewing, with a response due at the end of June. The European Commission is also contemplating introducing a 'one flight one price' rule which would end the confusion caused by the super-low advertised price which can lure customers in, only to hike the cost up with hidden charges.

Those travelling around on a tight budget, such as those on backpacker travel insurance, or frequent fliers, can opt to avoid some of the charges by using a prepaid Mastercard. However, firms such as Ryanair are not only levying charges for payment processing but also for a whole host of other so-called 'privileges,' such as having bags to check in or reserving a specified seat.

Siim Kallas, the Vice President of the European Commission, is currently looking at the idea of scrapping extra charges, a move which would force airlines to finally be more transparent about how much a ticket actually costs. The only extras to be added would be those that a passenger decides to purchase separately from the cost of a flight, such as single trip travel insurance.

In the meantime, whilst the judgement is awaited, Ryanair and easyJet have upped their card charges to recoup costs they have incurred in paying customers compensation for delayed flights. Not a move which will earn the firms sympathy with those making a decision over their treatment of customers.