Even though many people think that a simple journey from your home to your soon to be flight won’t cost much, once you add up all the costs involved regarding transport as well as food and drink as they're commonly overlooked, it soon adds up to a lot more than you'd expect. Admittedly, I’ve been guilty of this and treating my hard earned cash like monopoly money since I’ve convinced myself that I somehow deserve it - well technically I do, that’s why I’m on holiday right?
You’ve got all your bags packed and you’re ready to leave, the next step would be getting to the airport from your home. Whether you’re driving to the airport or getting a taxi service to drive you there, it can become very costly depending on the distance travelled as well as the fares for that specific area. In London it would cost around £50-70 to get to Gatwick Airport by taxi compared to a small fee that will cover petrol costs - if you’re travelling with family and friends then it may work out even cheaper. However, if you’re located within London then you would’ve seen countless adverts for The Gatwick Express which states that you can go from London Victoria to Gatwick Airport in just under 30 minutes making it a quick and reliable way to travel. Unfortunately, this service does come with a price tag that currently stands at £17 for a Single Direct Ticket if bought on the day. Luckily there’s other trains that service airports across the UK including Thameslink and Southern which offer tickets at an inexpensive and standard price when compared to services such as The Gatwick Express. Regardless, there is still a small price to pay when travelling to and from the airport regardless of how you’re getting there with.
If you’ve travelled by car and saved yourself a small fortune on purchasing train tickets or paying for an expensive taxi to the airport there’s still the case of parking charges at the airport. Unfortunately these charges are quite expensive for simply leaving a car in a designated space for the length of time you’re away. The charges depend on what airport you’re travelling from but can cost as much as £30 per day as well as there being a small charge if you’re simply dropping passengers off. Additionally, from the car park you may be charged a fee to get a shuttle bus to the terminal itself - everything is about money nowadays and airports will squeeze every penny they can out of people.
If you’re like me and like arriving to the airport the night before with the addition of booking a hotel room, then that can also be costly. However, there are some bargains out there which was seen where I found a hotel room in Heathrow Airport for £21 - more information regarding that blog post can be found by clicking here. Although, hotel rooms get more expensive the closer it’s situated to the airport with many hotels charging in excess of £200 a night for a bed, shower and toilet for the night. The reason I prefer staying in hotels is because the trains departing from London can be quite problematic at the worst of times, especially if I have an early flight. It simply saves me the hassle of having to get a taxi to the train station and from there a train to the airport - without the fear of missing my flight.
At the airport there are a range of different terminals, each with their own specific airlines and destinations. Unfortunately, if you pick the wrong terminal and discover that you need to travel to another one then you may be charged to get a shuttle or a train, which happened to me when I was travelling home from Australia. As a family member dropped me off at the wrong terminal I had to pay $5 for a 5 minute journey to get to another terminal. Even though this is a small price to pay, it’s the principle of lots of passengers paying this fee makes a small fortune for the company operating these shuttles since they know passengers will pay for it. Luckily, Gatwick Airport offer a free shuttle from the South Terminal to the North Terminal but this same principle won’t apply for all airports throughout the UK.
Another fee that some passengers may incur intentionally or unintentionally would be a luggage charge. Some passengers will intentionally overfill their bags so that it’s overweight to bring home items that they’ve bought, which they’ll happily pay a charge for at the airport at no trouble to them. However, some passengers may be caught off guard with a hefty fee even if their suitcase is only slightly over the limit - some staff members will not allow you even the extra 0.1kg whereas others will - it’s simply not worth the risk. Each airline has their own weight specifications which I’d advise passengers to look at before travelling as well as their allowances.
Travelling through security can be a lengthy and frustrating process, especially when passengers don’t understand the concept of taking all items out from their personal possession and declaring what’s in their luggage. Luckily, airports have added a paid feature for those who simply want quickness and easiness throughout their journey by adding a “Fast Track Security Lane”. Once again though, this is a paid luxury with a range of prices depending on the specific airport but unfortunately does cost an arm and a leg for less than a minute of putting your luggage down and walking through a scanner. It’s easy to understand why passengers choose this for, especially during peak times, since it’s an easy way to get through security, especially if you have children, which will allow you to be in and out within minutes.
Once you’ve dropped off your bags and gone through security you’re now free to roam around the airport until your gate is displayed. What’s that? You’re hungry? Well then you won’t find any bargains at the airport, more so that you will spend an absolute fortune on items that you could get at any supermarket for a quarter of the price. Whether you’re eating in a restaurant or cafe or simply picking up a sandwich to eat on the plane then you will find yourself spending a lot more than you’d have hoped. Even a meal deal for a simple sandwich, drink and a small packet of crisps can cost as much as £5. It gets even worse when you see the costs of hot food and drinks on the flight itself, a meal deal is priced at around £8/9 for the same three options as standard - a hot sandwich or baguette accompanied with a drink and a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps.
Not only is food and drink one of the more pricier items throughout the flight, duty free is advertised throughout the flight whether it be flight attendants or the catalogue in front of you displaying “unmissable deals”. As mentioned in a previous blog post, companies will sell you items that they know is beyond your liquid limits so that in turn you will have to pay for your luggage to be put in the hold, if it’s not already. Either way, these deals can be found on the high street with even more discounts than Duty Free - for me it’s a decision that people feel pressured to make with the time constraints provided and the feeling that they should treat themselves since they’re on holiday.
If you thought that these were the only purchases that can be made in regard to your actual flight, this is far from the truth. Once you've booked your flights you will be given the option of being able to purchase seats with people you’re travelling with or towards the front of the plane. For example, seats at the front of the plane will be the most expensive which depends on the duration of the flight, which starts at around £20 for short haul flights which can go as far as £70 for long haul flights. Either way, if you want to sit next to family and friends then you will be faced with a charge, which seems unnecessary, but it’s another way to make money from passengers throughout their flight.
Not only can an airport be a place to wait for your flight but a place where you can relax, enjoy comfortable seating while enjoying a buffet meal as well as having access to spa facilities. You can even feel rejuvenated and refreshed by the added extras of showers and even more surprisingly a small cinema to enjoy the latest releases. Buying a pass to the lounge can range in price depending on the facilities but it’s in the price range of £60 to £100 for just a few hours of access. Although, if you’re set on going to a lounge before your flight then go on an empty stomach and make sure you make use of all the facilities on offer.
Tips and tricks for all aspects of travelling, most of which include saving money.