Passengers at Düsseldorf Airport: The desire to travel is coming back
Rupert Oberhäuser / IMAGO
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary would like to pay travelers to sit on his planes.
The dazzling entrepreneur explained this in a famous interview a few years ago.
"I'm selling seats at £4 this week and paying £13 airport tax - I'll pay you to fly with me."
Of course he didn't say that without ulterior motives.
More and more often, he gets his money's worth from the by-catch: Every passenger is now familiar with the income of the airlines for coffee and sparkling wine on board, for example, or steep fees for luggage.
The commissions for sold travel insurance, rental cars or hotel rooms that the airline brokers are less well known.
Other business areas are the sale of credit cards and shared revenue for purchases at the airport.
In fact, such ancillary income currently accounts for 30 percent of the balance sheets of low-cost airlines such as Ryanair or Easyjet.
The industry average is 12 to 15 percent, estimates expert Christoph Klingenberg and refers to the consulting firm CarTrawler.
So was or is flying on the way to becoming a price paradise for customers?
And for three reasons: First, the aviation industry has not yet been able to recover from the corona shock because it has simply lost too much ground.
Secondly, the price of flying is more likely to rise due to rising energy and climate costs.
And thirdly, Corona has probably permanently changed the travel behavior of companies - and business aviation has always been particularly attractive for the airlines.
Flying is getting more expensive
In addition, business trips have also generated a particularly large amount of revenue at the airport.
Their absence will force more expensive airlines such as Lufthansa to generate a larger part of their income from private passengers and tourism in the future.
In order for this to pay off, normal holidaymakers, i.e. you, will have to expect higher prices with traditional airlines in the future.
Lufthansa boss Karsten Spohr reported this week at the group's annual general meeting that the trend towards bookings in the "premium segment" was "unbroken" among private travelers.
The development is already noticeable statistically.
The Federal Statistical Office has determined that flight prices rose by around 15 percent from April 2020 to April 2022.
For the individual passenger, the price policy of the low-cost airlines and the fight for more tourists from Lufthansa and Co. has a significant impact.
It all starts with transparency: Of course, passengers compare flights and airlines primarily on the basis of price.
And the easiest way to do this is via flight comparison portals.
The airlines have responded by making their tickets there look as cheap as possible.
That means: a low basic price - and then many extra costs for luggage, food, reservation, more legroom or flexibility when rebooking.
The budget airlines have an advantage here anyway.
After all, they are inexpensive precisely because they have always kept certain cost blocks small.
Legroom for everyone costs too much money, just like the first class counter or a meal on board at no extra cost.
Not only does the food have to be paid for, but also the catering by the employees.
The low-cost airlines are trying to further expand this advantage by separating as many services as possible from the flight and charging them extra.
At the end of 2021, Ryanair published figures according to which a Ryanair flight without aviation fuel costs an average of 31 euros - significantly less than its competitors Easyjet and Eurowings.
Eurowings wrote to me this week that ancillary revenue per seat has risen to £15.06 (€17.50).
So much has changed.
The biggest turning point was probably no longer accepting the classic carry-on suitcase as such.
For decades it was tolerated if you stuffed it in the overhead compartment.
Now you pay extra for it.
This creates a problem for potential passengers: the departure time and flight duration can still be easily compared, but the ticket costs are becoming less and less due to the incidental costs.
If, for example, a return flight costs 220 euros with one airline and various extras are added, then it is no longer clear whether the other ticket offer in the flight portal for 250 euros is not cheaper in the end.
A normal hand luggage trolley costs at least 8 euros with Easyjet, a large suitcase booked online at least 12 euros, and even 58 euros if you book it yourself at the airport.
Only for the outward flight.
The same amount is added for the return flight.
These differences are particularly dramatic when it comes to carry-on luggage: That alone now accounts for almost a third of the additional income, according to a CarTrawler study of 100 airlines.
Baggage revenue has tripled since 2014.
When I was still a student in the USA for a year abroad, I could travel from Berlin to Dallas with two suitcases and one train at no extra cost.
Today at least the second suitcase would cause high extra costs.
Even the big standard airlines now have sophisticated suitcase policies that we customers pay for.
Extra luggage from Berlin to Fuerteventura costs EUR 65 booked online with Lufthansa, and EUR 80 at the airport itself.
CarTrawler writes in its April investigation that such baggage fees are now common everywhere, as long as state regulators do not explicitly prohibit them - as in Southeast Asia.
At Ryanair, for example, the first suitcase already costs a surcharge if it is larger than 40 centimeters by 25 centimeters by 20 centimeters - i.e. it can contain more than a laptop, toiletry bag, book or a pair of summer shoes.
You can see what that means in this picture.
The rules vary from airline to airline.
Finanztip has therefore compiled a table showing which luggage is actually still allowed to be taken on inexpensive flights.
But that shouldn't stop you from looking for the cheapest flight.
The following tips should help you do this:
: If you want to go to a friend's or family's holiday home, for example, you can take the small standard suitcase that you can take on board with you free of charge on a number of airlines.
But not with Ryanair and Easyjet.
For the others, the small suitcase often has to weigh nothing.
At TUIfly just 6 kilos, at Emirates 7 kilos.
In return, you can often take your laptop with you.
You always have to pay for larger luggage.
right flight portal
: With some, you usually see the prices for the basic fares without additional baggage.
With good flight search engines, on the other hand, you can compare flight prices including luggage costs.
To do this, simply use a baggage calculator to enter how much hand and hold baggage you want to take with you per person.
The flight prices in the result list change accordingly.
However, with the restriction that you only ever get approximate values - i.e. not a one hundred percent reliable result.
Check if the
is better: it's a bit more time consuming but may be worth it.
Sometimes a Flex fare including all extras (selected seat, your baggage and Flex option) is cheaper than taking the basic fare and booking the options individually as extras.
What has nothing to do with the luggage, but also always applies: If you have found the cheapest flight, then book it
directly with the airline
Not all flight portals forward you.
Many then let you book on the portal yourself or with an agent.
This sometimes leads to problems if the flight is canceled or the airline goes bankrupt.
And as far as the visions of Ryanair boss O'Leary are concerned: Those were the visions for the weekend trip by Easyjet-Set* to Dublin or Barcelona anyway.
And not the visions for your summer vacation.
The airlines never have anything to give away.
– these are young people who regularly travel to other European cities on weekends with low-cost airlines.