The high price of low cost airlines

Low cost airlines are awesome – they have completely changed the way people fly, but they also helped redesign the entire aviation world, sending a powerful wakeup call to the legacy carriers.

There is however a nasty side to them – in their drive to cut costs and keep prices low, they have started to alienate customers and take on a very nasty attitude.

When flying with a low cost carrier, you need to pay very close attention to their rules, regulations and fees.

A good example of the inflexibility of the low cost carriers (Ryanair in particular) comes from The Netherlands. When Mrs. Raaijmakers and her family arrived at Weeze Niederrehin airport, she was told that since she had not checked in online, she’d have to pay a EUR160 airport check-in fee (about $230). Since she did not have that kind of cash, the airline simply told her that her family could not fly with them, and departed without her.

Now in the defense of Ryanair, these rules are spelled out quite clearly, and are published right on the main page at That said – to tell a passenger that they can either pay, or miss their flight seems quite rude. A Ryanair spokesperson said that the airline is “sick and tired of people who don’t read the rules”, and that “not paying means not flying”.

Because Mrs. Raaijmakers will arrive later at her destination, she and her husband are going to lose their jobs (in a bar). When confronted with this, Ryanair said “that is not our problem”.

I’m not one to blame the consumer, and it doesn’t seem right to blame Ryanair for this either, but it really should be a valuable lesson for anyone trying to save some money by picking a low cost carrier – the hidden cost is that not paying attention will cost you a lot more in the long run. Things that make sense on legacy carriers (like checking in at the airport) do not work with the low cost carriers, so be sure to read their site and check up on user experiences on aviation web sites before clicking “buy now”.