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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Good to know about Ryanair

Ryanair is the largest operator at City of Der...Image via Wikipedia

Even before the recession and certainly nowadays, people like to find great bargains and no more so than when it comes to flights. Due to the fact that airline tickets often are expensive, finding a better value deal means a lot to most of us. The entering of low-cost carriers to the airline market certainly gave many budget-minded travellers the opportunities to fly more frequently. In Europe, the budget airline Ryanair has proved to have the touch and has conquered this highly competitive marketplace. To some, a great thing but to others, it proved to be the end of and era when the customer was treated with respect.

Ryanair has a clear strategy. They want to be the cheapest airline and frequently advertise flight tickets that cost nearly nothing. This no-frills airline must however make a profit and they have cleverly created several strategies for doing so. Every year they seem to sneak more and more hidden fees and opt-ins in order for them to get paid. They seem to want to be able to say that they have the cheapest ticket but still make a high profit on their flights. This is how it is done.

When Ryanair first launched their business they used to promote their amazingly cheap tickets without showing the cost of taxes and fees. As most of us know, you cannot actually buy airline tickets without these charges so in the end, the Ryanair flight ended up costing a good bit more than the advertised price. After several complaints and investigations by the consumer groups and EU, it was ruled that all airlines need to show these taxes and fees as soon as you tried to find out the price of a ticket.

For Ryanair however, this was not the end. They started promoting flights where they took care of these taxes and fees and consumer was tempted by nearly free flights yet again. In order for them to recoup a profit, other charges were brought in. You now have to pay for luggage to be checked-in, the actual check-in cost you a good deal, even if you do all the work yourself online. In addition to this, they charge hefty fees to pay for these flights. In true Ryanair spirit, they don’t charge per transaction, but per person per flight. You used to be able to avoid these credit card charged by using the VISA Electron but as of January 2010, they have closed this loop-hole. As they need to provide one free way of paying, they have cleverly joined forces with MasterCard and promote their prepaid card as a free alternative. The only trouble is, it doesn’t only cost you money to charge this card, it also cost you a percentage of the transaction price.

Additional way for Ryanair to make money is to have the voluntary opt-in pre-checked. Instead of asking if you would like travel insurance with your flight, Ryanair has ticked the yes box for you and it becomes your responsibility to un-tick if you do not require this insurance. In order for you to get a good seat, you can pay an additional fee to be able to queue in the priority lane. Whether or not this is worth the money is highly debatable as many do pay for this privilege.

As Ryanair seek out the very cheapest alternatives in order for them to keep their flight tickets low, they usually only fly to smaller airports far away from where you really want to go. They do provide transportation for a cost to the main destination, but it could be hours away. The best thing is to go on the Internet and check out transportation prices and times before you book a ticket to a remote location. They also usually fly very early in the mornings or late in the evenings as this are off-peak times.

There have been many rumours about what Ryanair is trying to do next. Charging for toilets on the plane or having the back of the plane remodelled so that you could fit more people in, standing, are only a few of them. One thing to be sure of, Ryanair will not stop trying to find ways of squeezing money of their passengers in sneaky ways.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

No more free VISA Electron on Ryanair purchases

A Ryanair Boeing 737-800 on take-offImage via Wikipedia

Ryanair has done it again. In its endless efforts to make budget conscious travellers pay additional fees on top of the flight charge, they have now decided to end its free use of VISA Electron. This move from Ryanair seems to coincide with the fact that more and more travellers opt for an Electron card to avoid the hefty credit card charges. As the additional fees are what Ryanair makes its money on, it was an inevitable move from the Scrooge-like Mr O’Leary.

Even if the VISA Electron wasn’t widely used and could not be obtained in several countries, there were ways for the traveller to use Internet based VISA Electron cards, such as Entropay. As this knowledge spread on the Internet and Ryanair saw the increase of payments with the Electron card, they seemed to have decided to make its move. As they need to have a free option, they quickly established a relationship with MasterCard and are now offering passengers free credit card charges if the use MasterCard’s prepaid credit card. However, the prepaid card itself is not free of charges so in effect, Ryanair has now managed to make all its passengers pay some sort of fee for paying for its flights.

It is very hard to know exactly how much these prepaid MasterCard actually costs as there are different cars and various ways to pay for using them. The most common methods are a card issue fee, a type of loading charge, cash machine withdrawal charges and monthly fees. For example, Ryanair has introduced its own prepaid MasterCard in the UK and it has a £15.89 annual fee and in addition to this, it costs 50p per purchase.

The best way to minimize the fees are to find sites where you can get a free prepaid card and where the transaction charges are low. For example, This is Money have partnered up with FairFX and through This is Money’s webpage you can order your free prepaid card. It is free to load up if you use a debit card or bank transfer, has no monthly or annual fee and has free Euro and Dollar purchases. It charges a 1.5% fee on sterling transactions. More of these sites might be available to the customers.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hotwire - great bargains with a twist

There is a saying in Economics that there is no such thing as a free lunch. That is true for most things in the world, as everything ultimately comes with a price. Most people nowadays are hunting for bargains and particular great deals, which is made easier with Internet sites catered to provide you with a range of great offerings. It is of course up to the bargain hunters to filter through all the information, and pick an offer that suits them and their expectations the most. Consumers have different ideas as to what they want and need from a product, and not all sites will appeal to everyone. Hotwire is definitely such a site as it comes with a twist.

Like most other travel sites, Hotwire offers a range of products. You can book a hotel room, rent a car, purchase a cruise or pay for your flights at their very straightforward Internet site, www.hotwire.com. The difference is that you won’t know the name of the provider until you have fully paid for your product. Does it sound confusing? Well, it really isn’t.

If you are looking for cheap accommodation in New York for example, press the button for hotels and enter New York in the search box. You will often get more than one hit as Hotwire gives you the option of searching for a room near an airport or in the city itself. You are also asked to enter the dates of your stay, the number of rooms and the number of adults and children staying there. You will then be presented with a list of available accommodations and the prices. The prices are initially shown excluding taxes and fees. If you are looking for a particular standard, you can choose to filter the search results by stars, from all to above 3 or 4 stars.

For each result, there is a link to an area map and further details. If you press the link, you will see in what area the hotel is located, and the different sights that lay within the area. In other words, even if they won’t specify the name or address of the hotel, you will know within what parameters you will be staying. You will also be able to see what amenities the hotel has, whether it be a fitness centre, shuttle bus or restaurant. Hotwire also provides exemplas of hotels in each category. Go to the star rating description and they will list a few hotels in that category and what you can expect from a hotel in that particular range.

Once you have found the ideal bargain that suits your needs, you will be presented with the total amount, including taxes and fees. You will also be asked to sign up and enter all your details. When this is done, all you have to do is to pay in order to find out where you are going to stay. You will then be presented with a full disclosure of the hotel and the address. Please note that the hotel rates at Hotwire very rarely include breakfast, especially not in the hotels with higher stars.

Similar processes apply for booking car rentals, cruises or flights. If you have signed up for Hotwire and search for a product but do not book it, Hotwire will then send you e-mails telling you about products and offerings that correspond to your searches. That way you won’t miss out on better deals that come up. If you don’t mind taking a bit of a gamble, Hotwire does provide great value offerings.

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