The great airport rip-off: Travellers fleeced as they set off on holiday

-Cheaper to get a TAXI than park -Travel toiletries EIGHT times more expensive -Onboard refreshments marked up by 2,000%

Cost conscious Brits can spend hours searching for the cheapest hotels and flights, only to be hit with rip off prices the moment they step foot in the airport.

It’s now so expensive to park at airports that it can often work out half as much to take a taxi. Two weeks parking at Heathrow works out at more than £100, but from most parts of London travellers can book a mini-cab for less, according to taxi comparison site Kabbee.

And that’s just the start.

Travellers who hoped to trim the cost of flying by opting for hand-luggage only tickets, are then stung by the cost of travel-sized toiletries, as retailers take advantage of security restrictions.

The miniature products stocked in terminals are up to eight times more expensive per ml, research by TravelSupermarket has found.

In some cases, customers will actually pay more for a travel-sized version, than they would for the full-sized equivalent.

For example, on the high street a standard 150ml spray can of Dove Anti-Perspirant can cost as little as £1. However, the travel-sized version at the airport has been found to cost nearly double at £1.99 – that’s an increase of 752.86% per ml, or nearly eight times as much for the same product.

Then after finally boarding a ‘budget’ airline, holidaymakers will find the cost of refreshments has been ramped up by more than 2,000%, according to the travel comparison site.

As a result, a basic lunch made up of a sandwich, crisps, chocolate bar and drink each way on board easyJet will add up to £70.40 for a family of four, the site found.

Shockingly a simple bottle of water was found to have the largest mark-ups among drinks. A 330ml bottle of water on Jet2 will cost passengers £1.80 - 718% more than the supermarket price.

Ryanair followed suit pushing up the price of a 500ml bottle to £2.61, eight times more than the supermarket price of 33p for a 330ml can from a multipack.

Monarch, Ryanair and easyJet were among those found charging over the odds for booze, with Thomas charging customers £4 for a can of Budweiser in comparison to the supermarket price of 58p, an increase of 590%. 

Airlines take the largest profits from hot drinks, marking prices up by more than 2,000%, according to the research.

But, of course, it’s not just drinks that are more expensive.  A double chocolate or blueberry muffin on easyJet is priced at £2.50 – whereas similar product costs as little as 25p in a supermarket.

And chocolate bars were found to be another big earner for airlines, with Jet2 charging £1.20 for a Mars bar, 380% more than the supermarket’s 25p as part of a pack of four at £1.

Plan ahead to beat costs

Booking train or bus tickets for travel in advance to the airport can work our cheaper. If you want to take a taxi, call different companies a few days ahead of time to get quotes. Or use a price comparison site such as Kabbee.

It may seem as though it’s a no-win situation, as passengers either have to pay out to put their bags in the hold, or travel hand-luggage only and shell out for miniatures. But with a little planning, travellers can get around this.

"My number one tip is to invest in and reuse small bottles which you can decant your products into before you head off on holiday," said Bob Atkinson, travel expert from TravelSupermarket.

Food and drink

“Airlines realise they have a captive audience of potentially hungry mouths to feed once they close the aircraft’s doors,” commented Atkinson, travel expert at TravelSupermarket.

You can try to get around the expensive cost of hot drinks by taking your own cup and tea bags or coffee and asking for hot water. However, there is no guarantee the airline staff will serve you - several refused during Travelsupermarket’s research.

“Buying items from a local supermarket is often the cheapest option, although picking up a meal deal or snacks in the airport outlets of Boots or WH Smith is another good option for saving money on airline food prices.

“There is of course no getting around the airline liquids ban. However families can still save a significant amount by purchasing non-alcoholic drinks in the departure area before the flight,” Atkinson added.

Unfortunately, there is no way to get around expensive alcohol, as booze bought in the terminal can’t be brought on board.