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6 Jun 2019

Rip-off airline extras revealed

The true cost of adding travel insurance and car hire to your flight booking

Flyers who buy add-ons with their airfare are at risk of paying more for an inferior product, Which? Travel has found.

Bundling travel insurance or car hire with your airfare might seem quick and easy, but it will almost certainly cost you more.

Even worse, we found carriers flogging travel insurance policies that failed to meet our minimum criteria for comprehensive cover.

Which? Travel continues to review the best and worst travel insurance providers to help you avoid a costly mistake. Find out more about Which? Travel.

Airline extras: convenience will cost you

Airlines are desperate to sell you everything from fast-track security to airport parking, earning themselves some extra commission. That's why flyers are forced to scroll through several pages before they enter their credit card details.

A one-stop shop, allowing you to arrange your holiday itinerary with a few clicks, might seem convenient - but it could end up costing you.

We looked at seven carriers flying on popular European routes in May and added up all their extras. We then compared the package to the quote we found by shopping around.

In some cases the results were a clear rip-off. When booking a flight from Newcastle to Malaga, easyJet offered car hire for £119 with Europcar - £73 more than a deal we found with Centauro for the exact same dates.

Not only was our standalone rental less than half the price, it was with a car hire broker we rate more highly.

It was a similar story with a British Airways flight and car deal from Heathrow to Larnaca in Cyprus. We were quoted £126 for a week's rental with Avis, compared to £75 with Which? Recommended Provider Enterprise.

See the full results of our best and worst car hire companies.

Add-on travel insurance falls short

Overpriced car hire is one thing, but travel insurance that fails to provide adequate cover is quite another.

When we added travel insurance to a Jet2 flight from Manchester to Faro, we were given a quote of £17.50.

While the price was similar to a standalone policy with Staysure, the policy with Rock only offered £1,000 for loss baggage and belongings - £500 less than the minimum we recommend. The excess was also steep at £175.

Wizz Air's add-on insurance with Chubb has a maximum of up to £500 for cancellation and curtailment plus flight cost, which falls short of the £3,000 we advise. We also felt Ryanair's cover with Europ Assistance - while cheap at £12.91 for a week in Spain - didn't provide an adequate level of cover.

Make sure you're covered for every eventuality with our best and worst travel insurance providers.

Shop around

Other extras, such as return coach transfers in Krakow with Wizz Air, cost almost £12 more than the public bus.

Thomas Cook's priority package was £12 - far pricier than buying fast track security on Palma airport's website (£3.45). However, the airline's bundle also includes premium check-in and priority boarding.

Our advice is to shop around and not be automatically seduced by the easy option when it comes to buying extras for your holiday.