European low-cost airlines fail to enforce charges and fees

european low cost airlines fees

Flying around Europe on low-cost airlines over the last few months has taught me a few things. Among the most useful lessons I’ve picked up: Baggage and check-in fees and charges are enforced quite unevenly.

European low-cost carriers present their customers with a frightening thicket of charges and fees. These charges, which serve as a revenue stream for the airlines, are less readily enforced by contract agents who are not direct employees of the airlines in question, though bona fide airline employees also appear to enforce them inconsistently.

Some anecdotes from the last few months follow.

In Tel Aviv in March I tried to inform the easyJet check-in agent–clearly not an employee of easyJet–that, having failed to pay to check a bag online, I would need to cough up some shekels to do so. Not only did she refuse to take money to check my duffel bag but she clearly had no idea that I was supposed to be charged to check by bag in the first place.

Flying airBaltic between London and Finland last month, I was made to weigh my carry-on en route to Finland by an airBaltic agent. Returning, the contract employee in Oulu didn’t ask me to weigh my bag, which, at 9 kilos, was right at the weight limit.

Three events, arguably, serve as a representative sample. I flew WizzAir last week to and from the Balkans. WizzAir demands that its customers’ carry-on bags not exceed ten kilos, but neither the agent at Luton nor the at Dubrovnik on my return weighed my bag to see if it had exceeded the limit. In both cases I was very likely just over the baggage weight limit.

This is a case not so much of lessons learned than of a pattern observed. Contract check-in agents don’t appear to have been taught about the intricacies of their employers’ rules and regulations, first off. Secondly, and just possibly, if your carry-on bag looks diminutive, you may be able to get away with a few extra kilos.

That said, this is not an official Gadling recommendation to start to think of these charges and fees as inconsequential. They’re imposed to make money and they succeed in doing so for their airlines. To some degree, I’m sure I was simply lucky in these instances. But clearly the fees and charges are not being enforced as fully as they were designed to be.

[Image: Flickr | jenny-bee]

Top 5 Travel Attractions in Dubrovnik

Five ways to enjoy the midnight sun in Oulu

midnight sun oulu

As the days grew longer this spring I began to fantasize about spending summer solstice under the midnight sun. I recalled with excitement that dulled buzz that comes from not getting enough sleep when it’s constantly light out, a gently energizing sensation so unlike sheer exhaustion. Last week I succumbed to the urge and flew off to the city of Oulu in Finland.

Why Oulu? As is usually the case, my decision was determined by budgetary bottom line. In late May I sat down and looked at all of my options for experiencing the true midnight sun. My research indicated that only a location at or above the 64th parallel north would do the trick. That left a number of decently trafficked airports a single layover away from London: Luleå and Kiruna in Sweden; Bodø, Narvik, and Tromsø in Norway; Oulu and Rovaniemi in Finland.

The cheapest fare I found from London to any of these northern cities was to Oulu via Riga on airBaltic, for €223. I snapped it up.

Oulu, the sixth biggest city in Finland–the fourth biggest if the cities of the greater Helsinki Metropolitan region are counted as one–is a technologically-savvy, bicycling-mad place. The city is saturated by free wi-fi and laced with cycling paths. In the summer, Oulu pulses with restrained energy. Even on a quiet summer night there are plenty of people about, biking, socializing, and swatting away mosquitoes.

In short, summer in Oulu is spectacular and atmospheric. The summer is brief and locals enjoy it fully. Here are five ways to maximize a visit to Oulu during the summer season.1. Explore the city by bike. Oulu has a fantastic infrastructure for bicyclists, with 550 kilometers of cycling trails. The city’s residents use their bikes in impressively high numbers. Families, officeworkers, and tourists all share space on paths and roads. Rent a bike at Pyörä-Suvala or Jussin pyöräpiste.

2. Eat at Sokeri-Jussin Kievari. Located just over the bridge from Oulu’s downtown on the island of Pikisaari, Sokeri-Jussin Kievari is a traditional eatery with a down-home aesthetic. My lunch of vendace fried in butter was delicious, and there are more exotic things on the menu as well. (Also worth a meal is Bar & Grill Kauppuris, with its mammoth burgers of beer-braised pork neck, bacon, steak, and roast beef.)

3. Visit the Oulu Museum of Art. While this may not be a summer-specific activity, a stroll through the museum is certainly worthwhile at present. Through September 11, six contemporary Finnish artists are showing their work in an exhibit titled Close to a Wonder. Among the noteworthy items in the exhibit: Ville Löppönen‘s oil paintings, Pekka and Teija Isorättyä‘s life-size multimedia sculptures, and a set of captivating photographs by Perttu Saksa. Admission to the museum is €3.

4. Check out the Kauppatori or market square at midnight. Some nights you’ll find scores of locals chatting and listening to music. On others, you’ll find a handful of alienated teens and the above unmanned strawberry stand. The adjacent Kauppahalli (Market Hall) is pretty; during the day a notable selection of pastries and local produce is sold inside.

5. Nallikari. A broad beach on the island of Hietasaari, Nallikari is home to a holiday village called Nallikari Camping as well as a spa hotel, Oulun Eden. The beach is beautiful and the waters beyond slope gently. The beach is popular with families and windsurfers. At a distance of about two miles from Oulu’s city center, it is an easy cycling destination. Nallikari also features a miniature golf course.

Some media support was provided by Oulu City Tourist Office. All opinions expressed are the author’s own.