Families face paying up to £320 just to take baggage with them on their summer holidays this year.
An investigation has revealed that cut-price airlines are loading fares with high charges for suitcases which go in the plane’s baggage hold.
Ryanair demands up to £80 return for a 20-kilogramme bag, the average accepted weight for most airlines. It means a family of four face charges totalling £320 this summer, just for their luggage.
The airline makes its highest baggage charges for flights between Britain and the Canary Islands, but charges £70 return per bag to other summer sunshine destinations.
It is more than double other budget airlines like easyJet, Monarch and Thomson, who still charge passengers up to £150 for travelling with luggage which needs to go in an aircraft’s hold.
Several airlines have introduced new higher baggage charges which come into effect for the first time during this year’s peak summer months of July, August and September.
A family flying with Thomson from Glasgow to Palma, Majorca, in June this year, will face hold baggage charges of £30 per person or a total of £120.
A family of two adults and two children travelling on easyJet from Luton to Gran Canaria in August will be forced to pay £128 for four 20 kg bags – £32 per bag return.
On Monarch airlines, a family of four flying return from Birmingham to Dalaman in Turkey in July with 20kg bags each will be charged £151.92 on top of their fares.
BMI charges £31.98 per passenger for a 20kg bag, meaning a family of four flying return from East Midlands airport to Sicily in late July faces charges of £127.92 for taking suitcases which go in the hold.
And no-frills airline Flybe will charge £103.92 for four 20kg bags on a flight between Manchester and Faro, Portugal.
A group of four travelling on Jet2.com between Newcastle and Alicante in July will be charged £119.92 if they take hold luggage weighing 22kg each.
Even long-haul passengers face high charges for luggage on budget airlines.
A family travelling with FlyThomasCook from Manchester to Orlando, Florida, with four 20kg bags faces luggage charges of £46 per person return or £184 in total.
Bob Atkinson, of holiday website travelsupermaket.com, said: “Ryanair is clearly hoping to profit from summer holidaymakers as it raises bag charges by up to 33 per cent for the peak holiday season, while leaving low season prices unchanged. This will affect families on their main summer holidays in particular.
“And woe betide anyone forgetting to book that bag online or turning up at the airport hoping to flout the rules. The same bag will now cost you £100, four times the cost of booking online. Failing to arrive with your boarding card will add an extra £60 to the cost, an increase of 50 per cent for the current £40 fine for failing to have this printed at home.”
Ryanair said it encourages passengers to avoid its baggage fees by not checking in any bags and instead travelling with its free-of-charge 10kg carry-on bag allowance.
Spokesman Stephen McNamara said: “Ryanair continues to incentivise passengers to travel light especially during peak periods by raising our online checked-in baggage fees.
“As always, baggage fees are avoidable, but for those who choose to check-in a bag during peak travel periods the new fees will apply for bookings for travel in June, July, August and September 2012.
“Over 70 per cent of Ryanair passengers will be unaffected by these changes as they already travel with no checked-in bags and instead use Ryanair’s free of charge 10kg carry on allowance.”
A spokesman for easyJet said: “Our aim is always to make travel as easy and affordable as possible.
“As such, easyJet separates hold baggage charges in the booking process to keep fares as low as possible. Only those wishing to check in luggage pay for this.”