Aer Lingus luggage charges soar by up to 40%
A family of four bound for Lanzarote could be forced to fork out more than £400 on luggage after Aer Lingus increased its baggage charges by up to 40%.
Details of the price hike came as the airline confirmed it has switched to a three-tier system where charges differ for 'Near', 'Mid' and 'Far' destinations.
The new pricing policy, which applies year-round, flat fees according to weight, replaces previously contentious 'peak' and 'off-peak' baggage charges.
Following the changes that became effective last month, the cost of bringing a 25kg bag one-way to a 'Far' destination, such as the Canary Islands, Corfu or Croatia, is £53 all year round.
That means that four members of a family taking this size suitcase on a return trip would be billed £424.
Opting to take four lighter 15kg cases to the same location at a cost of £45 per bag each way would, however, rack up a smaller bill of £360.
Aer Lingus operates direct flights to four 'Mid' destinations from Northern Ireland's George Best Belfast City Airport - Malaga, Faro, Alicante and Palma - and one to London, which is classified as 'Near'.
But thousands of families from here make the journey to Dublin Airport every year to take advantage of the airline's additional routes from the South.
Under the new system, a couple each opting to take a 15kg bag to Spain, for example, would incur costs of £32 each way - or £128 in total.
If they went to London instead, the same luggage would be priced at £52.
In a statement issued to the Belfast Telegraph, the airline said that although travellers taking luggage to 'Mid' and 'Far' destinations would incur higher fees, those going to 'Near' locations "are paying 40% less" when compared with last year.
"New baggage fees have been introduced for bookings made from March 28 and for any baggage fees paid after that date at airports and via our call centres," it said. "At Aer Lingus we constantly review our pricing structure and can confirm that our baggage fees are competitive when compared with other European low-cost carriers."
The airline confirmed that more than 30 destinations qualified as 'Near', including all UK airports, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, adding that they were subject to a £13 fee per 15kg bag.
It added that a 15kg case cost £32 on 'Mid' routes to places such as Alicante, Malaga and Faro, while travellers taking a 15kg bag to 'Far' destinations such as Corfu, Pula and Lanzarote from Dublin will pay £45.