Saturday, November 05, 2005

Beware Of Budget Airlines

We've just come back from a holiday in Lanzarote (more about that in a later posting) and we flew with budget airline flyglobespan and I have to say that the return journey really put a dampener on the trip.

Excess Baggage

The first thing to say is be very, very careful about your baggage weight! Go over your 20kg and they hit you for €7 for every kg over. Our cases were obviously close to or slightly over the limit so they asked us to weigh our hand luggage, which mostly contained presents and some stuff for eating and drinking while waiting on the flight. Anyway, we stupidly put the lot on the scales without thinking and it all came in at 13kg over and they wanted an extra €91!

This is obviously a common way to boost the takings as the queue to pay for the excess amounts was a constant stream during check-in but when you think about it it's really a bit of a scam as well as they've no checks beyond that and you can easily load up in the shops beyond passport control. Sure, they say that the cabin crew have the power to refuse excess hand luggage but unless you're obviously over-loaded with bags, they would never have the time to police this while boarding the aircraft.

Anyway revenge of a sort was to come calling as, once we'd all boarded amost an hour late and then hung about while they dragged the paperwork around for another hour or so they pilot announced that the plane was too heavy to take off and we'd all have to get off while they siphoned off some fuel. So they were happy to take everyone's money for the excess weight but the smaller aircraft that they put on for the return flight, a Boeing 737-300, obviously didn't have the power to take off with that extra weight and the allocated runway and associated steep ascent that this and the wind conditions required.

Now that meant that we took off two and a half hours late and had to stop over in Malaga to take on enough fuel to get home. I say revenge as it must have cost them much more to offload the fuel and then stop and refuel again than they made skimming the extra baggage weight.

Mind you, I had the credit card out to pay the extra charge but Lorna decided that we weren't going to pay more to carry some of the stuff than it was worth (good Scottish head on her shoulders) so we dumped about 9kg worth of wine, liqueurs and sweets and made them reweigh the bags to save us a fair bit of money. Anyway, the moral here is to check your baggage weight if you're flying on the cheap as the airline surely will and charge you heavily for any excess.

The Service

The second thing is that the service is shaved to the bone. There were only three cabin crew to deal with over 150 passengers. No complaints about the staff as they coped pretty well with the constant workload and were pretty friendly. There's no onboard entertainment at all so take a book or puzzles or something like that to pass the time and, if you've got kids, some toys will be essential. As for food, they sell a pretty limited range of sandwiches and sweets onboard and they're happy enough to let folk bring their own food on as well so you won't go hungry.

Whoever was flying the plane could have done with some lessons on how to land the thing. When we landed for the fuel stopover in Malaga I thought the undercarriage had cracked as we practically bounced with the impact and the landing in Glasgow wasn't that much better. It might just have been this one particular bloke but I'd hope he wasn't their regular standard of pilot.

Conclusion

Would I use flyglobespan again? Possibly but I'd make sure I had some spare baggage capacity for the return flight. I can't really complain about the flight service as that's part of how they keep costs down so if you're happy with no entertainment, very few cabin crew and do it yourself meals, then you'll definitely save on normal package holiday prices.

1 comment:

Shirley Grant said...

Ouch! I'm planning on sending a box home by sea as I'm sure my luggage is going to be too heavy and I really don't want to carry too much around anyway.