BMW used to do it. So did Mercedes. Porsche and Ferrari still do as far as I am aware, though it's been a while since I checked. Then along came the so-called "budget" airlines and the tactic is back in vogue with a vengeance.
It starts with a loud - gaudy even - welcome page on which there is loudly displayed a low figure. At the time of writing, the figure is $10. The word "cheap" appears and you are tempted along to the "flights" window. "$10" and "flights" together; it's a heady mix that conjures up the golden age of travel together with cheap air fares, so you delve deeper. Mind you - the words "golden age of travel" and "Ryanair" are not comfortable bedfellows, but never mind; I live in Edinburgh - where could I go? What could go wrong?
Memmingen. On the grounds that I have never heard of Memmingen, that's where I will go. I typed in the two cities and pressed the "enter" button, awaiting good news. Ah - don't forget the "I agree to the website terms and conditions" button. Done. Bring it on.
At this point, I am invited to partake in a security check. The words "puppy" and "love" appear in a box and I have to write these two words in another box. So, I do as requested and up pops the window with all the various flight options to Memmingen (which is described as Munich West). At the same time, and apropos of nothing, another window has opened, inviting me to check out various hotels in the area. I closed it, anxious to get on with my flight booking. I wanted to pay by credit card. The fare quoted is an enticing $11.99 and has only gone up by $2. I can live with that, so I select and continue to the next window.
I enter my name and am asked if I want to take along any baggage. Of course I do, and I am offered two options, the cheapest of which is 15 lbs at $15 and the most expensive (for another 5 lbs) is listed at $25 (as an aside - if the first 15 lbs bag is $15, why are the next 5 lbs priced at an extra $10?). My fare, in a window adjacent to the main page immediately changes from $12.73 to $37.73. It didn't even have the courtesy to blink.
I am not one for queuing with the hoi polloi, so Priority Boarding seems like a good idea. This means that I get to stand in a queue for a slightly shorter time than other people and that, in theory, I get the pick of the seats when I board the plane. A bargain at $5, so sign me up. Meanwhile the fare leaps effortlessly over the $40 barrier.
Insurance. I am a cautious old cove, so this seems sensible. This is where the website is a bit confusing. Let us say that you have already got a travel insurance policy and that you do not need to purchase Ryanair's own insurance. In that circumstance, you have to go the drop down box headed up "Please select a country of residence" in order to find the drop-down entry "Travel without insure" - which in my case, is not what I am going to do, as I already have insurance. Sorry, that's a detail. Anyhow, for the purposes of the example, I selected "United Kingdom" and the more expensive of the two insurance options. The price has now morphed to 60.88. I couldn't quite work out why the maths didn't work until I checked the credit card fee - it has been quietly going up, the more I loaded the booking.
Onwards and downwards. I am invited to choose my seat and this results in a reduction in price as it comes with "priority boarding" as part of the package. Fine. I am beginning to lose the will to live so I press the "Continue" button, to be immediately told that I have to choose whether or not I want to receive confirmation of the flight by text. Sounds like a plan, so I sign up for that at a price of $1.69. My credit card fee has grown as well. Oops - I see that I am now being charged two credit card fees. When did that happen? Must have been when I took out the insurance. Ah well.
Next - choose your seat. So I did and that was a tenner. Then, there's some guff about Ryanair Talk. Next, pick a case - any case. I don't want a case; nor do I want the talk thing. Ignore them and carry on. Ah - but I have to select what kind of mobile phone service that I don't want to purchase, and I also have to physically tell you that I do not need to purchase a case. Beam me up, Scotty. And no - I don't want to hire a bleeding car.
Anyhow, my fare is now $67.71 from an initial start-off point of $11.99 and the tactic is called "add-on".
Quite annoying really, but a useful tactic to use if you think that you have pitched too low or if the other side snap your hand off. "Did I mention that the fee does not include travel time and expenses?" That kind of thing. Annoyingly though, it is also used as an enticement to the unwary. To be fair $67.71 is still pretty cheap, but it isn't as cheap as $11.99!
About the author:
Robin Copland, Partner
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