May222017

Compare bag fees fine print when booking Expedia and OTA airline tickets

Be aware and study airline checked bag fees before booking lowest fare tickets on airline websites and through OTA sites for intra-Europe travel on low cost carriers and major carriers.

Three different tickets for the same low cost flight Amsterdam to Prague through Czech Airlines, Expedia (and Orbitz), and SmartWings have three different checked bag policies and fees.

This article is my warning to watch out for unanticipated bag fee expenses when booking tickets with an online travel agency.

The experience of booking three intra-Europe flights today revealed a lesson that I share here as caution and advice for two booking situations:

1. varying bag fees when booking low fare tickets through online travel agencies like Expedia and other OTA sites.

2. paying higher ticket prices when two or more passengers on same flight itinerary with different seat and bag needs.

Airline Ticket Bag Fees Case Study:

Be aware and study airline checked bag fees before booking lowest fare tickets on airline websites and through OTA sites for intra-Europe travel on low cost carriers and major carriers.

Three different tickets for the same low cost flight Amsterdam to Prague through Czech Airlines, Expedia (and Orbitz), and SmartWings have three different checked bag policies and fees.

Czech Airlines website ticket

Amsterdam AMS – Prague PRG nonstop July 31, 2017

  • 74.00 GBP ($96.21 USD) Lite Fare = only 8kg carry on bag
  • 95.00 GBP ($123.53 USD) Plus Fare = 23kg checked bag + 8kg carry on + 3 kg personal item.
  • AMS-PRG CZ Airlines


Expedia.com USA website ticket

Amsterdam AMS – Prague PRG SmartWings 8619 nonstop July 31, 2017 (operated by Czech Airlines).

Same flight as above.

  • $120.40 (X booking code) = free hand luggage (no weight specified) + first checked bag $9 per kg. This is up to $207 in additional bag fees for a 23kg bag that is included in the $124 Czech Airlines ticket.
  • Orbitz has this same fare and ticket type with same checked bag fees.

AMS-PRG Expedia code X Smartwings

SmartWings is a Czech charter airline subsidiary to Czech Airlines. The flight sold through Expedia is marketed as SmartWings, even though it is a Czech Airlines operated flight.

Expedia ticket price is an extra $24 for same flight compared to booking direct on Czech Airlines UK website. The real deal killer here is the cost to add a checked bag is $9 per kg.

Expedia Fine print: Baggage fees when purchased at the airport (Prices may be cheaper if purchased online with Smart Wings).


SmartWings.com English website ticket

Amsterdam AMS – Prague PRG SmartWings 8619 nonstop July 31, 2017 (operated by Czech Airlines).

€120.02  ($134.85 USD) = one 8kg carry on + one 15kg checked bag.

AMS-PRG SmartWings 120EUR

SmartWings tickets include one checked bag 15kg and one carry on bag 8kg.

AMS-PRG SmartWings 

Three tickets for the same flight purchased through different ticket providers have different prices and different checked bag rules.

Expedia is the worst deal. The price is $24 more than buying direct from Czech Airlines and the cost to add a checked bag after low fare ticket purchase is an exorbitant $9 per kg.

SmartWings has a major advantage over Expedia ticket purchase if you want a checked bag, however, a direct purchase with Czech Airlines is $11 less than SmartWings and offers a bigger checked bag and carry on bag weight allowance.

Bag Fees Summary

Many of low fare tickets do not include a checked bag and the free carry on bag weight allowance may be as little as 6-10kg (13-22 pounds). The cost to add a checked bag to some airlines’ lowest fare tickets ranges from about $10 to $80, or in the case of the Amsterdam-Prague Expedia ticket in this article, one checked bag can cost $200 to add to the low fare ticket price. Depending on your needs, paying a higher ticket price initially with inclusive checked bag and seat is a better deal.

Be sure to check the bag fees fine print before you purchase your ticket, especially if booking low fare tickets with an online travel agency.

Ticketing two or more passengers on same flight itinerary with different seat and bag needs.

The second issue I experienced booking our intra-Europe flights resulted in booking my tickets separately from Kelley’s tickets.

I plan to travel this summer with only my small backpack as a light under 8kg carry-on bag, while Kelley needs a checked bag at 15kg. I successfully traveled three weeks in winter 2017 with only a small backpack and I assume I can fly that light even more easily in summer with lighter and more compact summer clothing.

A peculiar aspect of SAS and Czech Airlines websites is I did not see a way to book two different fare types on the same itinerary for SAS or Czech tickets. I wanted one ticket with one checked bag and one ticket without a checked bag. Only Ryanair allowed me to do this on the same itinerary when buying two tickets. SAS and Czech websites required both tickets on same itinerary to be same fare type.

The ticket price increased $30 on both SAS and Czech Airlines to book 2 tickets with checked bag. I did not see a way to buy one ticket with a checked bag and one ticket without a checked bag on the same purchase with these two airlines.

Ryanair had the option to add a checked bag to the lowest-fare ticket. Good thing too since the fare increased from $38 to $1,063 one way for a fare upgrade that included checked bag and reserved seat. I added one 15kg checked bag for $20.02.

Crazy Ryanair fare types

BRQ-STN fares

I don’t care about seat assignments on a 2-hour flight, although Kelley might if she ends up stuck in a middle seat on all three flights across Europe.

Avoid Low Fare Ticketing Obstacles

The variable bag fees issue depending on which site you buy your airline ticket is something every traveler should be aware of when comparing ticket prices. This is particularly important if using Momondo.com to find low cost international airline ticket options. Compare the bag fees for different ticket choices to determine the real cost of the flight.

The issue of buying two tickets on the same itinerary with different selections for baggage needs seems rather consumer-unfriendly.

Ryanair takes a lot of bad social media press, but this is one issue where I see Ryanair outperforming the ticketing websites of major alliance airlines like SAS and Czech Airlines. The shift to unbundled airfares looks like another way the airlines market to consumers higher prices for tickets compared to traditional bundled fares, where your ticket includes one carry on, at least one checked bag, and a seat assignment at booking.

‘Dam time again,  Forget the Baltics

The last three days I focused on my own travel plans to set a firm itinerary for July travel this summer in Europe.

This morning I ticketed flights from Stockholm-Amsterdam, Amsterdam-Prague, Brno-London for three flights with five different one-way ticket itineraries. We are flying SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Czech Airlines and Ryanair.  

Nonrefundable airline ticket purchases set the itinerary locations and dates of our trip destinations.

Originally I planned 8 nights in Latvia and Lithuania on this July trip. Over the past week our travel plans changed. Kelley wanted Amsterdam in summer. The change of plan extends our time in Prague from four nights to one week.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Comments

  1. Good info about those flights!

    If I see someone who looks like you in a pub in Brno, Prague, or London—Ill be there too with the family–I’ll hope it’s you!

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