Checked Bag Prices On Budget Carriers Are Too Cheap

Budget travellers have come to expect the added costs associated with checked bag prices — and are likely to have developed the ability to pack one-weeks worth of clothes into a single carry-on bag.

Though with cabin baggage allowances regularly being reduced, it’s getting harder. Perhaps so-much-so you start wondering how much it would cost to ship some items by courier to your destination.

The concept is nothing new. Over the past few years a number of companies have set out to do just this. Airlines have also entered the space.

How do budget airlines compare with shipping your bag with a courier?

Methodology

Checked bagged costs on European budget carriers were obtained via TravelSupermarket (sourced in March 2016). 16 different products from 11 budget airlines were reported (some airlines offer different price bands based on checked bag weight).

Checked baggage minimum and maximum charges at booking Mar 2016

Download chart.

Europe’s budget airlines are imposing ever more complex prices for placing a bag in the hold. Where flat fees were once the norm, carriers now charge by an array of variables including time of year. Depending on when you fly, Norwegian has the cheapest possible checked bag cost per flight (£7 GBP / 20kg) , whilst Ryanair has most expensive (£45 GBP / 20kg) — that’s £90 GBP for a round-trip!

Given this analysis considers European budget airlines I then drew up a list of European cities to use as destinations for comparison. Cities were selected based on popularity and wether or not they were served by at least one of the budget airlines I collected prices for.

Full list.

Using MyParcelDelivery I then calculated the cost of shipping a suitcase of dimensions 76cm x 48cm x 29cm (a “large” case) with shipping weights of 15kg, 20kg and 25kg on 1, 2 and 3-5 day services from London, UK to this list of destinations.

Results

1 day services from London

Cost to ship 20kg cheapest hold courier 1 day March 2016

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Courier companies are arguably more price sensitive to the distance your bag travels — they are not receiving additional revenue for carrying passengers.

That said, couriering a bag from London to the Netherlands (£80.17 GBP / 378.89km) is slightly more expensive than shipping it to Ireland (£79.68 GBP / 589.28km), a country further away by straight-line distance to each countries central point (210.39km).

Bulgaria or Romania, are the most expensive destinations to courier a 20kg bag from London. Using UPS International Express Saver service (1 day) this would cost you £147.30 GBP. Checking this bag at the most expensive Ryanair price would only cost you £45 GBP — a difference of £102.30 GBP.

Out of the 21 courier routes researched, only 5 cost less than £140 GBP to courier a bag in 1 day.

Therefore, airlines could be missing a significant amount of potential revenue by checking your bag instead of using the space to take time-sensitive cargo — you’re actually getting a great deal in comparison.

2 day services from London

Cost to ship 20kg cheapest hold courier 2 day

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2 day services using MPD International Export are slightly cheaper than 1 day services as you would expect. However, they are still all more expensive than even the highest price for checking a bag on a budget airline (Ryanair / £45 GPB).

Croatia is the most expensive destination for 2 day services at £135 GBP, only £10 GBP cheaper then a 1 day service (£145.81 GBP).

This time the Netherlands is the cheapest destination to ship to via courier (£82.19 GBP).

Strangely, to ship to Ireland via courier on 2 day services from London will cost £108.47 GBP — more expensive than most central European countries.

3-5 day services from London

Cost to ship 20kg cheapest hold courier 3-5 day

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3-5 day courier services are the only ones that compete on price with checking a bag.

Even so, the cheapest checked bag prices on most budget airlines (7) are still lower than the 25 courier routes researched.

Rank Service 3-5 cost courier / checked airline 20kg cheapest GBP
1 Norwegian (20kg) 7.00
2 Jet2 (22kg) 11.00
3 Germanwings (20kg) 11.60
4 Wizzair (23kg) 12.00
4 Aer Lingus EU (20kg) 12.00
6 easyJet (20kg) 13.00
7 Monarch (20kg) 15.00
8 London-France 16.79
9 London-Austria 17.40
10 London-Belgium 17.99
11 Flybe (20kg) 19.00
12 London-Denmark 19.19
12 London-Germany 19.19
12 London-Ireland 19.19
15 London-Poland 20.39
16 London-Netherlands 21.59
16 London-Portugal 21.59
16 London-Spain 21.59
19 Thomson (20kg) 22.00
19 Thomas Cook (20kg) 22.00
21 London-Sweden 22.20
22 London-Hungary 23.99
23 Ryanair (20kg) 25.00
24 London-Switzerland 30.76
25 London-Norway 31.47
26 London-Finland 38.39
27 London-Estonia 43.19
27 London-Latvia 43.19
27 London-Lithuania 43.19
30 London-Croatia 44.27
31 London-Romania 45.49
32 London-Greece 46.79
33 London-Bulgaria 52.79
34 London-Malta 103.19
35 London-Italy 142.86
36 London-Czech Republic 145.81

Full list.

All services

Average cost by service ave courier ave hold

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Many argue that checked bag prices are too rigid. On Easyjet you have to pay for a 20kg bag (minimum price £13 GBP), even if your bag weighs less. Though in Europe all courier services I analysed also charged a flat fee to ship 15 – 20 kg from London. Therefore, you won’t make any savings by choosing a courier if your bag weighs slightly less than the max allowance either.

Improvements

The aforementioned door-to-door luggage services offered by some premium and long-haul airlines would not only give both a wider geographic view, but also a comparison between budget and premium airline charges.

tl;dr

  • Checked bag prices are much cheaper than courier companies one or two day shipping services.
  • If you’re prepared to ship your luggage 3-5 days in advance it might be cheaper to use a courier, but most budget airlines will still be cheaper!

Acknowledgements

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