Flexible airline tickets can cost up to 17 times more than standard fares – leading to allegations that airlines are redeeming unwitting vacationers during the pandemic.
A flexible ticket that allows travelers to postpone their flight date for free can cost £ 1,700 more than standard.
The extortionate rates highlighted in a consumer group investigation are billed, although most airlines now allow standard bookings to be changed at no additional cost.
Flexible airline tickets can cost up to 17 times more than standard fares. Investigation found
The largest percentage price increase between a standard and a flexible fare was recorded for a British Airways flight from London Heathrow to Barcelona in February next year.
The cheapest standard seat is £ 57, but the same route booked with a cheap economy fare costs £ 966 – 17 times the cheapest fare, or 1,594 percent.
According to the relaxed booking rules introduced during the pandemic, passengers with standard bookings can now change their flight details at any time free of charge. So you don’t have to go for the more expensive flexible option.
A Virgin Atlantic flight from London to New York in February next year cost £ 319 for a standard fare compared to £ 2,031 for a flexible ticket – an increase of more than £ 1,700.
Although passengers may be tempted by a flexible ticket due to the uncertainty of travel regulations, Virgin allows travelers with standard bookings to make up to two name and date changes for flights before August 31, 2021. The changes can be made free of charge.
That what? The investigation also found that easyJet’s flexible fares can cost 2.5 times a standard fare, while Ryanair’s can cost more than three times.
A table from which? Displays the price of a normal flight ticket compared to a flexible flight ticket
The largest price increase between a standard and a flexible plan offered by Which? The study was for a British Airways flight from London Heathrow to Barcelona in February next year. The cheapest standard seat is £ 57, but the same route booked with a cheap economy fare is £ 966
Despite the higher costs, which ones? Both airlines’ flexible fare options may offer less flexibility than standard fares.
In both cases, the airlines have waived their flight change fees for standard tickets. With Ryanair, customers with normal bookings can change flights before September next year, while with easyJet passengers with standard fares can change their dates at any time.
However, Ryanair requires passengers to notify them of any changes at least seven days prior to departure, while easyJet has 14 days.
In both cases, the flexible option can also offer passengers an additional baggage allowance.
A Virgin Atlantic flight from London to New York in February next year cost £ 319 for a standard fare compared to £ 2,031 for a flexible ticket – an increase of more than £ 1,700
TUI does not offer a flexible fare option, but has waived the flight change fee for flights departing by April 30th next year. Jet2 is one of the few airlines that doesn’t offer free flight changes or the option to book a flexible ticket, although changes to flight dates are only £ 35 per booking.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel said, “After a year of showing us the value of flexibility in booking travel arrangements, airlines should make their flexible booking options as attractive as possible.
“While it’s not uncommon for airlines to whip their passengers out for extras of questionable value, those inflated flexible fare prices – which are often not that flexible after all, or flexibility fees that are already offered in their standard fares – simply aren’t value.
After a year of showing us the value of flexibility in booking travel arrangements, airlines should make their flexible booking options as attractive as possible
Rory Boland, editor of Which? travel
“Instead, those buying flights should choose airlines with better ‘Book with Confidence’ policies on standard tickets like Jet2 and British Airways so that they can easily change their booking if suspensions, travel bans or other disruptions prevent them from going You can take into account short trips. Or even better, book a package tour that offers additional protection. “
A BA spokesperson said, “We offer a wide range of options for our customers to make more choices and best suit their individual travel plans.”
A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said, “As is common practice, we offer a wide range of competitive rates. Regardless of the tariff or product, our current business policy replaces the tariff conditions that may arise for a customer during the booking trip.
Therefore, all customers with bookings booked by December 31, 2020 and traveling by August 31, 2021 can make up to two date changes and / or one name change (s) with fee waiver for the entire trip by December 31 2022. A tariff difference can be calculated. However, this will be canceled if the new tariff is within the following tariff differences: £ 60 for Economy, £ 120 for Premium and £ 350 for Upper.
“We are constantly reviewing how we can ensure our customers are kept up to date with the latest booking guidelines, updates and the most competitive prices.”
EasyJet and Ryanair have been asked to comment.