The growth of so-called ‘budget airlines’ across Europe for the past two decades has entirely changed the dynamic of how people travel around the Continent. Driven by airlines Ryanair and EasyJet in particular, these low-cost carriers were literally born out of the same mold that gave rise to Southwest Airlines in the US. While sunseekers and savvy business people have eventually found a way to navigate around the multitude of add-on extras that these airlines seem to create and augment on an almost daily basis, the erstwhile and unsuspecting overseas golfer with his suitcase for all seasons and bulging golf bag, have been hardest hit by expensive baggage fees.
A good example of this would be the fact that you can regularly book a flight from Belfast to Malaga with Easyjet for just over £70 sterling. However, to acquire a seat with some extra legroom will cost an additional £23. If, as many golfers will, you have an accompanying suitcase less than 23kgs, that will be a further £30 and only then do we get to the golf clubs, which will set you back another £37. Provided that you comply will all of the weight restrictions above, print a boarding pass in advance of your arrival at the airport (or get charged for having to do so), the original £70 flight will come in somewhere in the region of double the original stated cost.
Many of our clients use intra-European flights in the course of their golf vacation with flights between Shannon, Cork, Dublin, and Belfast with Edinburgh International Airport and Glasgow, for example, commonplace throughout the peak golf months. So, it is imperative that clients are fully aware of the do’s and don’ts if booking these flights without our guidance. If you do need to make a booking, here are a few golden rules from the Pro:
1. The first price you see is rarely the price you will ultimately end up paying.
2. If you want any degree of choice or flexibility, including priority boarding, preferential seating, legroom, etc., you should expect, and will, pay for it.
3. Golf clubs are the low-cost carrier’s idea of a nightmare wrapped in a cloth bag. It is not unusual for golf clubs to be left off a flight, especially at busy times of the year when other hold luggage takes priority. This is especially so with smaller planes, in particular, the likes of the twin props favored by the likes of Flybe airlines. Protect yourself from this by choosing to ship your golf clubs in advance if possible or if not, check-in for your flight as early as possible.
4. There is a reason why they call this ‘no-frills flying’ but if you go with the attitude that at least you are only going to be on board for roughly an hour, then hopefully it will offer some comfort.
On a slightly more positive note, as these airlines have stripped their processes down to the bare bones, they are usually some of the most efficient and timely of any in operation. They also own some of the youngest aircraft fleets in the world, so at least you should arrive (relatively) on time and have flown in a shiny new aircraft! I know, small consolation.