Extra airport charges under fireMany passengers in dark about development fees

21 December 2007

Airport sign directing travellers to the terminal.

Consumer watchdogs have called on airlines to come clean on extra charges levied on passengers at some UK airports.

So-called airport development fees (ADFs) at Newquay and Norwich fund improvements to facilities such as toilets.

When you fly from either of these airports, you have to pay the ADF – up to £20 for a family of four – at the terminal.

Extra charges

Both airports reserve the right to turn you away if you refuse to pay.

But many passengers aren't even aware of ADFs until they arrive at check-in, and they resent paying extra.

Which? member Brian Cleland, who flew from Norwich recently, said: ‘It seems that we're paying a fee to get on the plane, something we paid for when we bought our tickets.’

Ryanair fails to warn Newquay travellers when they book online that they'll be charged £5 a head on arrival, while warnings appear to have been added on Flybe fare quotes only after Which? prompted the airline. The fee is included in BA flyers’ fares.

Online booking

Trading Standards Institute travel spokesman Bruce Treloar called on airlines using these airports to make the fee clear to passengers when they book online.

‘I can see a situation where a travel agent fails to tell the consumer about the fee because there’s no mention of it on the airline website,’ he said.

The consumer body the Air Transport Users Council also believes ADFs are unfair - and Which? agrees. We're both also concerned the trend may spread to other airports.