Alexis Conran is here to make sure you know all the hidden extras that can tip your family holiday from a bargain into an extravagance.
Going on holiday can be a costly experience and with news that Ryanair will soon be charging £260 to check in your suitcase it's set to get even more expensive. But Alexis has all the advice you need to avoid costly extras.
He'll also be warning you about the potential pitfalls of buying a Spanish property at a knockdown price and making sure you don't fall foul of the conman peddling the risky courier scam.
CHECKING IN YOUR BAG BEFORE YOU FLY
If you are travelling with Ryanair between now and September, then on top of your basic fare it will cost you up to £80 per bag on a return flight, depending on the weight of the case and your destination.
CHECKING IN AT THE AIRPORT
Should you wait until you get to the airport to pay for checking in a bag, Ryanair's fees this summer are staggering: £200 to £260 per bag on a return flight. That's more than double last year's fees.
BAGGAGE HANDLING COSTS
Ryanair says this is when its baggage handling costs are higher. Yet Swissport, the luggage handler for the airline at Stansted, says it does not charge operators any more during this period. Ryanair also points out that its fees are avoidable by travelling with hand luggage only,and says that only 30 per cent of its passengers check in a bag. But that still means more than 22 million people are suffering these high costs.
FLYBE AIRLINE - A CONTRAST TO RYANAIR
Flybe is taking a radically different approach. It has scrapped debit-card charges on all bookings (with Ryanair, a family of four paying this way will have to stump up a £48 admin fee). Flybe has also created a new type of ticket called New Economy, which includes a 20kg baggage allowance and advance seat selection in the ticket price.
WHO FLIES WHERE?
Luggage fees are now so steep with some so-called low-cost airlines that it can work out cheaper to fly with a traditional operator such as British Airways, which has a free baggage allowance and doesn't charge extra for paying with a debit card. Check your flight options on websites such as www.flightmapping.com andwww.skyscanner.net to compare the actual price you will pay, not just headline fares.
Most low-cost airlines offer a free payment option, usually by paying with a Visa Electron card, but with Ryanair you need to use its own Cash Passport pre-paid MasterCard. Getting one of these cards is time-consuming but it can save you a sizeable sum. Rival easyJet now charges an unavoidable £9 admin fee per booking which isn't included in initially quoted fares.
With a few airlines, passengers who turn up at the airport without a boarding card will have to pay to have one issued - with Jet2.com, the fee is £17.50, with Ryanair it's £60. For more information, visit the Civil Aviation Authority website (www.caa.co.uk) - it includes a chart showing leading airlines' extra charges.
Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara said: "Ryanair continues to incentivise passengers to travel light, especially during peak periods, by raising our online checked-in baggage fees." They also point out only 30% of their passengers check in a bag.
British bargain hunters are being tempted by overseas properties, thanks to the Pound's steady climb against the Euro and the woes affecting popular European destinations Hundreds of thousands of unsold new homes currently litter Spain's coastal provinces. All the major Spanish banks have opened real estate websites (each translated into English to appeal to British buyers) to offload the new and repossessed homes on their books, promising discounts of as much as 60% off asking prices. But if you do find yourself falling eyeing up a Spanish apartment, you need to be cautious, experts think that prices in Spain still have further to fall and that asking prices remain a long way from reality.
- 1. Ensure an independent property valuation is carried out
Many developments were built cheaply and shoddily, with frequent reports of breaches of planning rules and licences
- 2. Factor in high fees
Buyers should also factor in high fees - typically 10% - when purchasing in Spain
- 3. Be selective
Many so-called bargains are being offered at bargain basement prices because they are of poor quality and in undesirable locations