Whether passing through an airport for business or pleasure, you are being taken for a ride financially.
Airport retailers have recently come under fire after it emerged that they are pocketing millions in VAT discounts on duty free items by making passengers show their boarding passes at the checkout for scanning before paying for their purchases – without passing the savings on to passengers.
Most of us assume that this demand is a legal requirement, but in fact, the information is actually used by stores to avoid paying 20 per cent VAT on everything they sell customers travelling outside the EU.
Here are 8 ways that you are being taken advantage of with airports ? be it car parking, wifi-fi or baggage fees:
If you?re in a hurry to get to a London airport, expect to pay a hefty fare. For example, with single fares from Paddington priced at ?21.50 in economy class, the Heathrow Express is Britain?s most expensive, above-ground, rail journey, clocking in at nearly ?1.50 per mile. A return journey costs ?35 – still more than ?1 for each of the 15 miles travelled.
To avoid the rail fares, you decide to drive. But a couple of years ago, it was discovered that parking a car at many of Britain?s airports is more expensive than parking a plane – Heathrow charges up to ?51.80 for 24 hours. Book in advance and you will save a fortune. If you arrive at Heathrow?s long stay carpark (Terminals 1, 2 and 3) without booking, a week?s stay in August could cost you ?195.10. By booking ahead, you can reduce that bill to under ?82. At Gatwick the long-stay drive-up price (North Terminal) is ?125 compared to the pre-booked price of ?75. ?Kiss-and-set down? fees come at a price. Research last summer found that just six of Britain?s 24 airports allow drivers to drop off and pick up passengers directly in front of the main terminal building free of charge. Luton is the most expensive ?and charges ?2.50 for up to 15 minutes outside the main terminal.
None of the UK?s five busiest airports ? Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted, Edinburgh and Luton ? were found to offer unlimited free internet access. By contrast, almost half (24) of Europe?s 50 busiest airports ? including Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dublin, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Munich, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Prague and Rome ? were. Heathrow began offering unlimited free access in July, Edinburgh offer two hours before charges apply, Gatwick allows 90 minutes, and Stansted and Manchester permit an hour, Luton is a mere 30 minutes.
Plastic bag charges
Remember to pack a clear plastic bag for your carry-on toiletries next time you?re heading to Luton Airport. It charges passengers ?1 to obtain one.
Research by the Post Office last year found that 1.6m Britons buy their holiday money at the airport each year, despite the bad exchange rates on offer. Each lost out on an average of ?12.56 by doing so.
Excess baggage fees
If your case is over the weight limit, things are about to get even more expensive. Ryanair, for example, charges ?10 per kilo for bags that exceed its maximum limit (15kg or 20kg, depending on what you opted for when booking). British Airways charges a flat fee of ?65 for all bags over its 23kg limit. Virgin charges ?40.
Not printed out your boarding pass? Ryanair will print it out for you at the airport ? it will set you back ?15.
Air passenger duty
When a family of four boards a flight in the UK they are handing over between ?52 and ?284 to the Government.
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