Top 6 budget airlines hidden costs

Budget airlines keep costs down by charging you for extra services. However, there are some charges that may come as a surprise to you. Beware of the fine print, avoid unpleasant surprises and empower yourself by discovering the Top 6 budget airlines hidden costs.

Arne Hodalič kindly shared with us the freshest impressions from his trip.

1Arne Hodalič kindly shared with us the freshest impressions from his trip.

The expedition was a continuation of the project

2The expedition was a continuation of the project 'Vanishing Cultures', prepared by Arne Hodalič and Katja Bidovec.

1. Check-In Charges

Usually, online check-in is free of charge and we are used to do it ourselves. Yet, there are cases that might surprise us with an unexpected hidden fee.


Everyone who flies with Ryanair has to check in online. Everyone. But be careful! As of 13th June 2018, the check-in time has gone down to between 48 hours and 2 hours before departure, which means you can no longer check-in for free four days before your flight. If you don’t check-in within this reduced time window, you’ll be charged € 55 per person for the check-in at the airport!

However, Ryanair has thought of another add-on to make sure you avoid this inconvenience – by purchasing a seat reservation, which will cost you between € 4 and € 15, the check-in time is extended to up to 60 days before departure.

As well as having to check in online, you’re also required to either print out your boarding pass or use the Ryanair app to check in. If you opt to print out your boarding pass and then forget it, you’ll be forced to pay a € 15 boarding pass re-issue fee! And even if you have printed your boarding pass, you may still be fined if the printout is of bad quality, the page is damaged or if the part of the page is missing, including the advertisement.


easyJet’s online check-in is quick and easy. You can do it via web or on the mobile app with your booking reference. easyJet allows you to check in between 30 days and 2 hours before your flight and you can download or print your boarding passes for all your flights. Although easyJet no longer has airport check-in desks, it’s still possible to check in for free at the bag drop desks if you were not able to check in online.

Wizz Air

Wizz Air also allows you to check in online for free. But again, when you are allowed to check in depends on your booking. If you have purchased a seat reservation during your booking (which costs from € 1 to € 50), the online check-in is available from 30 days up to 3 hours before the scheduled departure time. However, in case you have not purchased any seat reservations with your booking, the check-in will become available only 48 hours before departure. And if you missed it, your only option is to check in at the airport which will cost you € 30.

How to avoid hidden airline fees at check-in:

Set a reminder in your calendar for at least one day before your flight and make sure you check in online on time. It is also very useful to download the airline’s mobile app, where you can store all your boarding passes, which make travel so much easier. It allows you to keep all your travel information in one place and eliminates the need to print them out.

Download the apps:
Ryanair app
easyJet app
Wizz app

2. Spelling Mistakes & Name Change

If you spell your name in any way other than how it appears on your passport, or if you want to transfer the ticket over to someone else, you will probably have to pay an extra.


Ryanair does not like spelling mistakes. You have a 24-hour grace period from the time of the original booking to correct your booking free of charge. After that, correcting the mistake in your name (for example from Chris to Christopher) will cost you € 115 (online) and € 160 (after booking/at the airport).
The same fee (€ 155) applies if you are changing the name to another passenger.


easyJet goes much easier on spelling mistakes. If you realize there's a mistake on your easyJet booking and you need to change it, you can do it online for free.

However, if you wish to transfer your booking to a different passenger, you can do so for a fee, but without paying any fare difference. This is also cheaper to do further in advance. If you change the name more than 60 days before the flight, you will pay € 20 online and € 25 via call center. However, if there are 60 days or less left to your departure date, the amount is much higher: € 47 online and € 52 via call center.

Wizz Air

Wizz Air makes a step forward and goes into detail, in which case the misspelled names or typos can be corrected online free of charge if there are maximum 3 characters to be changed in the name added to your booking, if you need to extend the abbreviated name (e.g. Patrick S. Brown) to a full name (e. g. Patrick Samuel Brown) in order to match your travel document or if you need to change the gender (title) of the name added to your booking. Watch out, you can only make one free name change correction in your booking.

If your case does not match any of the outlined conditions, then you will be charged the standard name change fee of € 45.00.

How to avoid hidden airline fees for name changes in your booking:

Carefully check and double-(triple!)check everything you write in your booking. Extra cautiousness can really pay off.

3. Flight Change Fee & Flight Cancellations

When events don’t go according to our plans, we can expect some troubles (with some extra costs) along the way. If we need to change the dates, times, route or even cancel our flight, in one way or another we will lose some money.


Did you know that all Ryanair flights are changeable but they cannot be cancelled? You don't need to notify them if you are unable to travel and if you can’t use your outbound flight, since you can still use your return flight. Flight dates/times/routes/names can be changed up to 2.5 hours before the flight departure time via My Bookings, unless you have already checked in, in which case you should contact their call centre.

If you do not travel on your booked flight, the air fare, fees and charges are non-refundable but you may apply in writing within one month of the date of travel for a refund of the Government Tax, which is subject to an administration fee of € 20. Therefore, if the refund amount is less than the applicable administration fee, there is no use in writing as there will be no refund.

If you wish to make changes to your flight arrangements, fees vary depending on the route and travel dates selected. Higher flight change fees apply to all flights on the following routes: International Canary Islands (excl Spanish domestic) and all international Greek routes. They are € 35–€ 65 (online) and € 50–€ 95 (post booking or at the airport).


easyJet enables you to cancel your flight within 24 hours of booking by paying a fee of € 35 (online) and € 40 (call center). They provide a full refund minus an administrative charge.

If you need to change your flight date, time or route, the earlier you make the change the cheaper it will be. There is also a difference if you make the changes in peak season or in off-peak season.

Peak season (15th June - 2nd September)
If you change your flight 60 days or less before travel, you will be charged € 54 (online), € 60 (call center).

Off-peak season (3rd September - 14th June)

If you change your flight 60 days or less before travel you will be charged € 37 (online), € 42 (call center).

Wizz Air

If you cancel your reservation up to 14 days before the flight, you will pay a cancellation fee of ​€ ​60 and receive a refund. If the cancellation is done within 14 days before your flight, you will receive a full refund after paying the fee for other services and the Seat Protection Fee of ​€​ 80.00.

BUT! If you purchased a Plus Fare ticket, or have a reservation with WIZZ Flex, you can cancel your flight and request a refund of your purchase price, delivered as credit to your WIZZ Account, up to 3 hours before the departure time of your outbound flight. The amount refunded to your WIZZ Account will be available for 90 days to be used for purchasing Wizz Air flights and services.

Wizz Air allows you to change your flight date, time and route for a fee, and by paying applicable fare differences up to 3 hours before your scheduled flight departure time. If you change your flight more than 30 days before departure, you will be charged € 30 (online), 7-30 days before departure date will cost you € 35 (online), while within 7 days before departure date the fee will be € 40. You can request a flight change also via Wizz Air Call Center, but you will be charged a Call Center Transaction Fee of € 60.

How to avoid hidden airline fees for changing or cancelling flights:

Communicate the changes of your flight as soon as possible, since the fees increase with the approaching of the departure date. Keep in mind that with budget airlines, it is sometimes cheaper to book another flight than to change an existing booking.

4. Overweight Baggage

If you are traveling with budget airlines, you usually need to pay extra for your luggage. Prices may vary depending on: travel time, payment method, baggage weight, plane occupancy, etc. It is therefore very, very important that you inform yourself beforehand about their luggage policies.


Passengers are allowed to take on board a Ryanair plane only a small bag (40 x 20 x 25 cm), which must be stored under the front seat while you will have to pay extra for a trolley (55 x 40 x 20 cm). However, if you purchase a "Priority" ticket at a cost of € 6 when booking your flight or € 8 after booking, you will be allowed to take on board both baggages.

Ryanair also allows you to check in up to 3 bags of 20 kg (for a total of 60 kg). If the weight of the baggage exceeds the permitted weight, you pay a fee of € 11 / kg.


Passengers of easyJet, with a basic ticket, can carry only one piece of hand luggage on the plane. The weight is not limited, while the size cannot exceed 56 x 45 x 25 cm (including handles and wheels).

easyJet allows you to check in up to 3 bags of 23 kg, offering the possibility to pay for additional luggage, in units of 3 kg (13 € per unit) up to a maximum of 32 kg / pcs. The maximum size (length + width + height) of a single piece of baggage must not exceed 275 cm. But be careful! Eventhough the baggage weight is limited to 23 kg, you will pay less if your suitcase weighs less than 15 kg! The fee for baggage weighing up to 15 kg is from € 10 to € 37 online, while the fee for baggage up to 23 kg is from € 15 to € 42. If you decide to check in your baggage at the airport, you will pay more. At the check-in, the cost will be € 41 / piece and at the boarding gate € 52 / piece.

If the weight of the baggage exceeds the permitted weight (23 kg / piece), a supplement of 13 € / kg must be paid.

Wizz Air

On board a Wizz Air flight it is possible to take one piece of hand luggage not exceeding 40 x 30 x 20 cm with a maximum weight of 10 kg. However, if you purchase WIZZ Priority (from € 5 to € 15 at booking or € 25 at the airport), you are also allowed also to take a trolley bag (55 x 40 x 23 cm).

Wizz Air has introduced a new type of checked-in bag with a weight allowance of 10 kg, besides the available 20 and 32 kg options. You can check in a maximum of 1 bag of 10 kg, 2 bags of 20 kg, or 3 bags of 32 kg. Other combinations of checked-in bags are not possible to purchase online, while fees vary according to season.
Low season*
For luggage up to 10 kg the cost ranges from € 7 to € 12 online & call center.
For luggage up to 20 kg the cost ranges from € 14 to € 60 online and € 55 at the airport, while for luggage up to 32 kg the price ranges from € 19 to € 74 online and € 120 at the airport.
High season**
For luggage up to 10 kg the cost ranges from € 7 to € 12 online & call center. For luggage up to 20 kg the cost ranges from € 19 to € 70 online and € 55 at the airport, while for luggage up to 32 kg the price ranges from € 25 to € 86 online and € 120 at the airport.

If the weight of the baggage exceeds the permitted weight, a surcharge of 10 € / kg is required.

**High season: 19 December 2018–13 January 2019
Easter 19 peak: 13 April 2019–28 April 2019
Summer 19 peak: 16 June 2019–22 September 2019
(beginning and end dates are inclusive).

*Low season: period excluding high season.

How to avoid hidden airline fees for luggage:

Avoid unpleasant surprises and read the "Guide to budget airlines baggage fees". Consider the allowance and weigh your baggage at the airport.

5. In-Flight Food and Drink

We all know that although expensive compared to what you might find in your local supermarket, the food and drinks at the airport are typically much cheaper and of better quality than the food on airplanes.


Ryanair constantly advertises to its passenger that they can choose between a large selection of delicious snacks, choices of hot or cold beverages and a full range of beers, wines and spirits. Wondering about their prices? We checked a few items from their menu: Water (0.5l) - € 3, Pepsi (250 ml) - € 2.5, Toasted baguette with ham and cheese - € 5, Twix chocolate - € 2.50, Barilla bolognese (300 gr) – € 6.
Check Ryanair's menu


All air food is expensive, and easyJet’s offer is no exception: Water (0,5 ml) - € 2.50, Coffee - € 3, Organic tea - € 3, Heineken beer (0.33l) - € 6, Coca-Cola (0.33l) - € 2.50, Chicken wrap - € 6, Ham and cheese toast - € 6.
Check easyJet's menu

Wizz Air

Wizz Air Café offers a selection of hot drinks, soft drinks, fresh sandwiches, snacks and alcoholic beverages: Coffee (or tea) - € 2, Pepsi (0.33l) - € 2, Water (0.5l) - € 2, Heineken (0.33l) - € 3, Large baguette chicken sandwich - € 5, Heinz soup - € 3.
Check Wizz's menu

How to avoid hidden airline fees for your meals:

Make sure you eat before arriving at the airport or at the airport. Buy a bottle of water as soon as you pass the security check, while food can normally be brought through passport control, but check the restrictions.

6. Paying for Your Booking Using a Credit Card

Yes, it happens that airlines charge a flat fee or percentage of the ticket cost for the use of a credit card for purchase.


Ryanair accepts PayPal, American Express cards, Visa, Mastercard, Diners/Discover, Apple Visa and Apple Mastercard credit cards and the following debit cards: Visa Connect, Visa Electron, Mastercard Prepaid, Visa Delta. A payment fee of up to 1.2% of the total transaction value may apply depending on the form of payment and where the payment service providers involved in the transaction are located (especially in cases of corporate cards and non-EU issued cards). Corporate Debit=0.5%* /Corporate Credit=1.2%* /NON-EEA Cards=1.2%*
*% of the total transaction value.


easyJet doesn't charge you if you pay by one of the accepted credit cards, which are: Visa (credit card), MasterCard (credit card), Diners Club, Discover, American Express, and UATP/Airplus. They won’t charge you either for paying by debit card: Carte Bancaire, Visa Electron, SEPA Direct Debit, Visa Debit, Debit MasterCard or Maestro.

Wizz Air

Wizz Air is very flexible when it comes to selecting a payment option. You can pay in a number of different ways: credit and debit cards (Visa, Visa Electron, MasterCard, Maestro and UATP), bank transfer, WIZZ Account, WIZZ gift voucher, iDeal payment (only available to customers with a Dutch bank account), cash at the airport sales desk or through travel agents. No additional fees apply.

How to avoid hidden airline fees for your payment:

Before booking your flight, check the payment options and look for a suitable option that doesn't charge any additional fee.

* Fees apply per passenger, per flight. We allow the possibility of unintentional errors.

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