An air passenger watchdog has expressed major concerns about an airport’s new scheme to let travellers buy their way past security queues.
Liverpool John Lennon Airport has introduced a voluntary ‘fast lane’ scheme in which passengers can pay £2 to avoid lengthy queues.
The Air Transport Users Council (AUC) said it was worried that other airports might adopt similar initiatives which could prove counter-productive.
AUC spokesman James Fremantle said: ‘Liverpool has introduced this to pay for extra security. But passengers are already paying for security through their air tickets and it seems unfair to ask them to pay twice.
‘Also, will this mean that passengers who don’t pay to be fast-tracked through will get through even slower? We’re worried that this kind of thing might be introduced at other airports.’
Mr Fremantle said the AUC was concerned about the practice of extra charges at airports.
The council has expressed its opposition to the scheme at Newquay airport, where passengers are charged £5 and at Norwich airport where the charge is £3 – with both airports making the charges to pay for airport development.
Liverpool had planned to make the £2 extra charge compulsory for every passenger to offset the cost of airport security.
But opposition from airlines, including low-fare carrier easyJet, led to the airport making the £2 fee voluntary.
Liverpool airport’s managing director Neil Pakey said: ‘We have likened this to the M6 Toll Road, in that we believe passengers are willing to pay a small premium in order to save time and we expect it be a popular option that many passengers will want to take advantage of.
‘In some respects it’s no different to what airlines now offer by paying a little more to get on the plane first.’
Holiday Which? Principal Researcher Mike Pedley said: ‘This is another way to chisel another few extra pounds out of travellers. You have to pay charter airlines to sit together or by a window – a service which was once free – you have to pay to take luggage on no frills airlines, now they want you to pay to jump the queue for security checks. Where will it all stop?’
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