What is the true cost of a flight ?

Pricing flights has becoming a bit of a nightmare as they all include different things.

It is reasonable to assume you would need 20kgs for a week’s holiday, so therefore in nearly all cases it is pointless pricing up a flight without all the frills.

The true cost of the flight partly depends on what you need for your individual journey and partly on the airline policy regarding check in.

So what about seats? Surely it isn’t necessary to prebook those. In theory, it isn’t, as you will always get a seat, after all they shouldn’t be selling more seats than than are actually on the aircraft,  but not choosing a seat with most of these airlines will mean you can’t do advance check in and you have to take pot luck. A single traveller will almost certainly get a middle seat  and parties often get split up. There is absolutely no guarantee that families will be able to sit together if you don’t prepay a seat.

For the purposes of this blog, I decided to choose a peak date Sunday 6th August, the cheapest flight from London to Tenerife for 7 nights, which is a very popular route  on a peak date. All of these airlines fly this route at least 5 times a week from either Gatwick or Stansted. This doesn’t factor in the time of day but it is a reasonable comparison to show what each of them includes.

This isn’t an exact science as there are often bundle sales and seat sales and prices are fluid so this may have already changed by the time you read this.

Thomas Cook doesn’t have a flight on Sunday so I priced Saturday 5th. I also looked at Friday for a fairer comparison but it is actually more expensive on that Friday and they are not the most expensive choice of the ones I priced, so it is still a reasonable comparison.

Without frills, here are the cheapest to the most expensive. Thomson, the most expensive is almost double the Easyjet or Jet2 options. Ryanair as expected are one of the cheapest but they also have the most expensive seat and bag options.

  1. Easyjet £269.98
  2. Jet 2 £272.70
  3. Ryanair £296.98
  4. Norwegian £304.50
  5. Thomas Cook £317.98
  6. Monarch £330
  7. BA £393
  8. Thomson £525

In this particular scenario, Norwegian’s upgrade bundle is the cheapest at an additional £46 and Ryanair’s is the most expensive at £90 which is almost double the cost of Norwegian’s bundle. Jet2 also represents reasonable value since their luggage allowance is 22kgs rather than 20.

  1. Norwegian £46
  2. Jet 2 £55
  3. BA £62 (assuming aisle and window are £11 each)
  4. Thomson £64
  5. Easyjet £67.98
  6. Monarch £75.60
  7. Ryanair £90

The bigger picture tells a different story but I will also illustrate what each includes and explain the minefield behind prebooking seats. To be honest I am unsure of Thomas Cook and Thomson policy on boarding passes as I so rarely book flight only with them and policies do change so please feel free to message me if you are aware of their policies regarding and check and I will update accordingly.

It is also worth mentioning here that BA have some great deals on Club Class and some dates are actually cheaper in biz than they are in economy and in that case you are allowed 2 x 23kgs of luggage so on many of these peak dates BA is actually cheaper than some of the low cost airlines and you will have proper food included with the club class option too.

  1. Jet 2 £327.70 – 22kgs luggage. Jet 2 have a tendency to split parties if you don’t prebook seats but their luggage and seat costs are pretty low Boarding passes can be printed in advance
  2. Easyjet £337.96 – 20kgs luggage. Easyjet allow 30 days in advance check in, even without prebooking seats so parties are rarely split, so unless you have booked very late or you don’t have passport details, it isn’t usually necessary to prebook seats
  3. Norwegian £350.50 – 20kgs. Norwegian have an inexpensive bundle which includes luggage and seats so if you have luggage it is worth doing Low Fare Plus and choosing a seat.
  4. Ryanair £386.98 – 20kgs. if you prebook seats you can print boarding passes 30 days in advance. If you don’t prebook seats it’s just 3 days before and they are inclined to split parties. The bundle for Leisure Plus allows you to choose seats near the front and 20kgs luggage. Ryanair’s baggage charges are very high but their seats are cheap, sometimes just £2 and they often have deals on the leisure plus bundle. If you have children, Ryanair prebooking seats is compulsory but children do get a reduced price on bags and seats with an accompanying adult. In this case it is usually better to do them separately rather than as a bundle.
  5. Thomas Cook £393.98 – 20kgs – Thomas Cook have a luggage/seat/meal bundle which is worth looking at if you do want a meal.
  6. Monarch £405.60 – 23kgs – Monarch’s Essential bundle is usually a modest supplement and does mean you can print boarding passes in advance, otherwise check in is only possible at the airport
  7. BA  £455 – 23kgs – I was unable to check the cost of prebooking seats but believe an aisle or window are £11 each way and I worked on this figure. Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. If you don’t prebook parties are often split depending how many seats are prebooked by others. If you are a Bronze, Silver or Gold Executive member you can prebook seats 7 or 30 days days in advance. If not or only Blue, seats can only be booked 24 hours prior to departure and if it is a codeshare, not a BA flight it cannot be done at all, only at the airport
  8. Thomson £589 – 20 kgs – At least Thomson is consistently the most expensive. The reason is that they want to sell holidays rather than flight only especially in high season so their prices are artificially high to put people off buying flight only from them. To be fair they do have some very good low season deals and they are not the only ones to do this when demand is high.

To complicate matters further, hand luggage is always included but this can vary from Thomson’s stingy 5kgs to BA’s generous 2 bags, 1 up to 23kgs with restricted measurements and a smaller handbag or laptop bag so if you fly BA with hand luggage only you can manage for a few days. Easyjet also has a generous allowance, no weight limit but there are size restrictions and you must be able to put it in the overhead locker unaided. They do not allow a second bag of any size.

As an independent agent I take the hard work out by doing all this for you and I guesstimate how much luggage I think you would need based on how long you are going for and if there are children in the party. Women normally need more luggage than men and children often don’t need a separate suitcase but this can depend on the hand luggage allowance.

I also try and give you the best rates based on the times you want and often this means using two different airlines out and back.

I also add in seats if I think this is necessary as it is with Ryanair and Monarch in order to print boarding passes in advance, so if I quote a higher price, I would have already factored this in and sorting out the fares jungle is very time consuming. I hope that this blogpost at least gives you a better understanding of what it entails but I do not claim this is 100% accurate as I chose a random date and prices are fluid.

I hope it also gives you a better understanding of how much work it involves to sort out the best fares for you also factoring in suitable times and it isnt just a simple matter of looking at a list of prices. Each trip is individual and different airlines have different prices for each different scenario. It is my job to find the ones that suit you and your particular needs.


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