Beware: the hidden costs of so called 'London' airports

Kaye Holland hates the hidden, extra costs that airports like Luton and Stansted insist in springing upon passengers

All summer I’ve watched as friends, family and work colleagues have departed London in their droves for Las Vegas, Ibiza and other hot – in every sense of the word – destinations.

And now it’s my turn! On Tuesday I am taking to the skies for a late ‘summer’ break and it’s safe to say: I can’t wait. If only I could avoid the airport.... Make no mistake: I love airports (I share many of the same traits as Ryan Bingham, aka George Clooney’s character in Up in the Air) just not British ones - or at least London ones.

Luton - labelled a ‘London’ airport even though, if we’re being pedantic, it’s in Bedfordshire - is arguably the worse. Admittedly as a die hard Watford FC fan, I’m never going to like anything about Luton (the rivalry between Watford and Luton is legendary even if, these days the Hatters no longer pose us Hornets any threat) - airport included. But even the most loyal Luton resident would have to concur that their local airport gives a new meaning to the words ‘penny pinching’.


Case in point? Parking is eye wateringly expensive - as much as £288 for a week - at Luton airport. One word: ouch. Think you can get around this by arranging to be dropped off by friends and family? Think again. The ‘lovely’ folk at Luton have taken it upon themselves to charge a  £2 drop off charge.

So too does Stansted - another ‘London’ airport that is actually closer to Cambridge than it is to the capital. Stansted claims the cash goes to managing “demand and congestion.” Poppycock!

But my anger towards Luton and Stansted isn’t only directed towards their ludicrous drop off charges. Once you have said the shortest goodbye in the world to your rellies, be prepared to pay £2 for a trolley at Luton. Struggle inside with your own bags and the aforementioned airports stick it to you once again: both charge £1 for a pack of resealable plastic bags which regrettably, in the wake of 9/11, we all need to stash our small toiletries in.

The purchasing of plastic bags will perhaps put you behind schedule for clearing airport security. Fortunately there’s fast-track security - a special lane that allows you to skip the queues - right? Well yes- providing you’re prepared to pay a further £4 for it. The phrase ‘off’ and ‘rip’ could easily be re-arranged.

Heathrow airport gets a lot of bad press but, in my mind, the west London airport is unfairly maligned. Running the country’s busiest airport, is no easy task and the head honchos at Heathrow manage to do so without fleecing you for every single, little thing...

As someone who has been lucky enough to have lived and travelled all around the world, I can report that no other airports in the world impose all these sneaky, extra charges. Cayman, Dubai, Sydney, Shanghai - they all treat passengers as people rather than cash cows to be milked as much as possible. Why can’t the likes of Luton and Stansted do the same?