Sunday 21 January 2018

10 craziest airport charges... including a 'breathing' tax

Maiquetia International

Venezuela's largest airport now has a 'breathing tax'...
Venezuela's largest airport now has a 'breathing tax'...

Oliver Smith

Venezuela's largest airport recently unveiled plans to charge passengers for clean air. Understandably perhaps, the so-called 'breathing tax' outraged social media users.

Maiquetia International Airport in Caracas announced that all passengers will now have to pay a 127 bolivar (€15) departure tax to cover the cost of a newly-installed air purification system.

The system will “protect the health of travellers” and eliminate bacterial growth, the country’s Ministry of Water and Air Transport claims, but has been described by others as a tax on the oxygen they breathe.

Here are some other controversial charges air travellers are expected to pay:

£1 for a cigarette

Back in 2011, Belfast International Airport introduced a £1 charge for passengers wishing to access the dedicated smoking area, angering fliers in need of a pre-flight cigarette.

Plastic bags

Luton Airport was accused of profiteering in 2007 when it began charging passengers £1 for two resealable plastic bags, items necessary to comply with the 100ml liquids rule.

Carry-on luggage

Wizz Air became the first European airline to charge passengers for hand luggage last autumn. Bags larger than 42cm x 32cm x 25cm, but smaller than 56cm x 45cm x 25cm, can be placed in an overhead locker - for a €15 fee.

But it is US airlines that have taken the lead. Frontier Airlines, a low-cost carrier based in Denver, charges passengers up to $100 (€73.50) at the airport to take a bag on board. Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air have similarly high fees for carry-on baggage.

“Kiss and drop”

Beflast, Birmingham and Bristol are among the airports charging drivers to use their drop-off zones. The most expensive charges are at Leeds Bradford and Luton. Both charge a minimum of £2/€2.50 – for 30 minutes at the former airport and 15 minutes at the latter.

$16 for a blanket

Norwegian, which launched low-cost flights from Gatwick to the US this month, charges $5 for use of a blanket. But the figure pales in comparison to Allegiant Air, which charges between up to $25/€18.

The EU261 levy

Until recently, Ryanair charged all passengers a €2/£2 “EU261 levy” to offset the cost of paying compensation for flight delays and cancellations under EU regulations. Rather cheeky considering it touted itself as Europe’s most “on-time” airline.

Name change fees

Dozens of airlines do it – but Ryanair remains the worst, charging passengers a staggering €110 (or €160 at the airport) if they need to correct a spelling mistake on their ticket. Mercifully, they waive the fee if the error is spotted within 24 hours of booking.

"Airport development" charges

Passengers flying from Ireland West (Knock) are charged a €10 departure tax. Passengers at Newquay, Durham, Norwich and Blackpool also essentially pay twice to use the airport. While taxes and fees are included in your airline ticket, those using these four must pay an additional 'airport development fee' of up to £10/€12.60 before they can take off.

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