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Package Holidays and Hidden Fees

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 29 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Package Holiday Hidden Fees Hidden Fees

Package holidays are regarded as one of the easiest ways to organise a holiday. A package holiday typically includes the cost of all flights, transfers, as well as the hotel room charge. These sorts of holidays are popular with families and those that don't have the time or inclination to tailor-make their own holiday, and are typically found through both high street and online tour operators and travel agents.

Throughout the year, some seemingly amazing package holiday deals are advertised all over the place - travel agent windows, through websites, emails and digital television, as well as being featured in magazines and newspapers. However, in many cases the advertised headline price is rarely the actual final cost of the holiday, all thanks to a number of hidden fees.

By understanding what these hidden fees are, and when they're most typically applied, consumers can have a greater understanding of the real cost of these 'bargain' holidays.


When the wording for a package holiday offer includes the word 'from' - as in 'from £80' - consumers should be very wary. The word 'from' does not guarantee that the headline price will be anywhere near the real cost of the package holiday. In fact, it's often a big clue that the price can be significantly higher than the 'from' price.

These package deals rarely include costs such as fuel charges and airport taxes on the flight portion of the package, and in some ways could be described as misleading to consumers. You may also find that the travel agents haven't included their booking fee. Some package deals may also neglect to include compulsory insurance prices in their headline price. However since 1998 it has been ruled that any such offer should include all compulsory taxes - if it turns out that the deal you're looking at hasn't done this, you know you're being swindled.


Package holidays will also be subject to a £1 levy - a small, but significant charge. This hidden fee is designed to help cover the cost should a travel company go bust and the holidaymakers are stranded overseas. It was previously raised by the travel company and sent to a central authority (ATOL), but now has to be covered by the consumer.


If thinking about going for that bargain holiday, before you dig out your wallet make sure you've read all the small print. This is because many package holiday deals are subject to limitations.

In most cases the limitations placed on the availability of the holiday, and a timeframe within which the holiday must be booked or taken. Another common limitation is whether the price offered is dependent on two people travelling and sharing a room. Children's rates can also depend on the number of adults booked on the same holiday. If you fall outside of these limitations you may find that you end up paying for much more than you bargained for.

Travel Insurance

If booking a package holiday with a travel agent, you may be offered the chance to take out travel insurance at point of sale. In most cases, the travel insurance policy on offer will be relatively expensive, and not the best deal available. A better bet is to decline the offer and find a standalone insurance provider that can sell a policy directly to you, most likely at a much fairer price.

At the Airport

So you've booked your package holiday, and you've arrived at the airport check-in desk with all your luggage in tow and tickets in hand. This is usually the point at which holidaymakers unexpectedly incur a handful of hidden fees. Baggage and excess baggage fees are one of the most common charges not accounted for. If taking sporting equipment on holiday, such as skis or snowboards, you will also be charged extra - around a £20 levy.

The trick is to check the airline's website or ring ahead to find out the luggage limits before you arrive at the airport. This way you can avoid paying any pricey extras.

Most package holiday deals are truly one of the cheapest ways to get everything you need for the best price. Just make sure that you take the time to trawl through the small print, the limitations, and don't be afraid to ask questions if something doesn't add up.

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