Are Budget Airlines About to Scrap Baggage Fees?

Date: 03 JUN 24

In a significant move, Spain has fined budget airlines EasyJet and Ryanair for what it termed "abusive" cabin bag and seat charges. This development could signal the beginning of the end for the myriad of additional fees that low-cost carriers impose on travelers. The decision aims to increase transparency and fairness in pricing, potentially reshaping the landscape of budget air travel.

The Implications of Scrapping Baggage Fees

The elimination of baggage fees would initially seem like a win for consumers, who currently face substantial extra costs when flying with budget airlines. These fees, which can add significantly to the cost of a ticket, are a major source of frustration for travelers.

However, the removal of these fees will likely lead to higher base ticket prices as airlines attempt to make up for the lost revenue. This shift could simplify the pricing structure and make the true cost of flying more apparent from the outset, but passengers may end up paying more for their tickets overall.

Profiting from Passenger Choices

In addition to baggage fees, budget airlines have found other ways to increase revenue, such as charging for seat selection. This practice often forces families to pay extra to sit together, exploiting passengers' need for comfort and safety. The fines imposed by Spain highlight these practices, which many view as exploitative.

For instance, airlines may deliberately allocate separate seats for families unless they pay a premium to choose their seats. This not only adds to travel costs but also causes stress and inconvenience for passengers. The regulatory scrutiny aims to curb such practices and ensure fairer treatment for travelers.

Frustrations with Boarding Passes and Check-in Apps

Passengers also express significant frustration with the requirement to print boarding passes or use airline apps for check-in. Many budget airlines impose hefty charges on travelers who arrive at the airport without a printed boarding pass. This practice is particularly burdensome for those who may not have easy access to a printer or prefer not to use mobile apps. The added stress of ensuring all check-in processes are completed correctly beforehand, or facing substantial fees at the airport, adds to the overall dissatisfaction with these low-cost carriers.

Consumers Demand Transparency

Travelers are increasingly demanding transparent pricing from airlines, seeking an end to hidden fees and unexpected charges. The fines imposed by Spain reflect a broader push for clarity, with consumers wanting to know the full cost of their travel upfront.

Transparent pricing would allow passengers to better compare fares and make informed choices, potentially fostering greater trust in the airline industry. While initial ticket prices might rise, the overall travel experience could become less stressful without the constant worry of additional fees for luggage, seat selection, and other services.

Airlines' Response and Potential Appeals

Budget airlines are expected to challenge Spain's ruling, arguing that their current pricing model allows passengers to only pay for the services they use. This model, they claim, keeps base fares low and makes air travel accessible to a wider audience. The airlines argue that an all-inclusive fare would unfairly penalise those traveling light, leading to higher costs for everyone.

Legal appeals are anticipated as airlines seek to overturn the decision, with the outcome likely to influence similar regulatory efforts across Europe. The industry will be closely watching these developments, as they could have far-reaching consequences for airline business models and pricing strategies.


The potential elimination of baggage fees by budget airlines represents a significant shift towards more transparent pricing in the travel industry. While this move could simplify the booking process and make the true cost of flying clearer, it is also likely to lead to higher base fares. As airlines prepare to appeal Spain's decision, the travel industry is poised for change. Ultimately, travelers seek a fair and straightforward pricing system that reduces unexpected costs and enhances their overall travel experience.

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