The Hidden Extras

We all know the lure of a cheap flight. It sings a siren song, whispers sweet nothings in your ear … ‘I’m only $100 what are you waiting for?’ I spent a great deal of last year rationalising a $600 flight to Hawaii, then a $900 flight to LA and whilst I was successful in my rationalisation (I could visit friends, I’ve never been to Hawaii before, LA can be loads of fun if you know where to go) I didn’t actually get around to buying them. This was because, I suspect, I spent too long rationalising; the moral of the story being, one should never think too long or too hard about something and instead, jump in feet first. But that’s not my point. And now I’ve lost my point. Oh yes, the siren song of cheap flights.

Whilst the LA and Hawaii deals were legitimately brilliant, there is a type of cheap flight that isn’t and it usually can be found lurking in the UK. I have been Skyscanning for a while, keeping my beady eyes on flights from London to Santorini, and have repeatedly discovered my best option was a 185 pound flight at 6.35am with Easyjet (repeatedly discovering something may suggest to others that it’s time to stop searching, but I pressed on, as if, by magic, a better offer would appear). Before I booked it this morning, I nipped across to Aegean Air to see what they had going. As it turned out, a better offer. In a pre-coffee, narrow eyed haze, I saw their flight was in euros and, buzzing with the knowledge our dollar is better against the euro than the pound, I booked. I booked an 8.35pm flight on a lovely Aegean plane and felt amazingly smug for outsmarting Easyjet. Except, as it transpired, I didn’t outsmart Easyjet because the flight on the Aegean Air site was in pounds, not euros and wound up being more expensive. This is what happens when one’s eyes are narrowed and one’s mind is pre-morning beverage.

After a slug of tea, I returned to Easyjet and decided to go through the motions of booking a ticket just to punish myself by seeing how much extra I had ended up paying by attempting to outsmart the sneakiest of cheap flight providers. I felt better when they charged me 9 pound to check one bag. I felt downright delighted when they charged me a further 9 pound to pay by credit card, adding 18 pound to the overall flight price and thereby bumping it up to equal the price of the flight I had (albeit misguidedly) booked on a better airline, with meals.

So yes, the whispers are sweet. And yes the song is seductive. But airlines have to make their money somewhere and the bite often comes all too late. Block your ears and suss out all options.