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Hidden extras on airlines - a rant and a warning!

  • Hazel Butterfield
  • 19 May 2016

We have grown to accept that the budget airlines such as squeezyjet and Ryanair, the dirt bags of the skies, they lure you in with cheap flights and then pound you with the extras. The rise in useful 'hold luggage' sales have soared because of it. But there are certain airlines and routes you do not expect it from. I give to you the ridiculous debacle, that is, travelling long haul with Thomson's...

Hidden extras on airlines - a rant and a warning!

On a family holiday to the Caribbean, on a chartered flight to a destination popular with families, on a supposed tailored and 'Privilege' package, there are certain assumptions that come in to play. Yes, there are always the options to upgrade, more leg room, etc. But when they become compulsory if you wish your 6 & 9 year old child to not be sitting on their own for the 10 hour flight, I'll be honest, it means Hazel has to put a few quid in the swear jar.

So when I received the email 2 weeks before departure (I booked 5 weeks prior to this) 'offering' me the option to guarantee my seats before check in, I was curious to see what it was all about. Not only were the majority of seats already reserved, those remaining (all 6) were single seats scattered across the 'Dreamliner'. So I gave the little cherubs at Thomson's a call to clarify that indeed we were up sugar creek without a paddle. In short, we were. Unless I agreed to pay £280 (+£4.20 CC fee).

On May 19th at 9.02 I got through to a gentleman called 'Siri' who indeed confirmed there were no seats together, not even 2+2 available. Unless I upgraded for £280. I asked him how this was deemed acceptable? His response, there is a chance at check-in on the day that they may have some spare seats for situations such as this. Sitting at least one adult each with a child would not be ideal, but acceptable. But he explicitly stated that this was not a definite and we would have to wait until check-in to see what 'they could do'. I asked him to reiterate this. "So the only way you can definitely confirm that my children will not be sitting on their own for a 10 hour flight is to pay the aforementioned £280?" "Madam, it is 11 hours and yes".

At this point, I must state, that if you are considering complaining; when ending the call refrain from mumbling words that rhyme with cat, tanker and farcemoles. The call will be re-listened to when assessing your complaint.

I was out and about and needed to digest the info and make sure I had what I needed when I would inevitably need to call back.

I arrive home and the next call does not go much better. This time I speak to 'Mike' at 10.36am who will happily put me through to his supervisor as soon as he's taken a few more details. Who in turn further clarifies what 'Siri' told me, with the addition of "It's a long flight, you as a family will be uncomfortable in economy, especially if you are over 5ft 9, you won't be able to move".

The supervisor was taking his time to be available and in that time I decided to get the required seats reserved and paid for so as not to be, using the technical term, buggered. He reserved 4 in a row in row 34 and sent me the email confirmation. Followed by how to offer 'feedback' via their website to which I declined. Funnily enough, 'Raj' the supervisor was now available, if I still required him. I did.

Person no.3 (at 10.52) explains that it is against the law to have a child on a plane under 12 sitting without an adult, which doesn't support what the previous 2 'operatives' had said. He confirms that he will help and reserve me 4 seats together on row 34. The row I have just laid the £284.20 for. I explain I'm already reserved there. To which he responds that the previous operative must have not completed it, but be assured he had. He was helping me. Because I had already paid for it and already received email confirmation that Mike had processed it at 10.40.

He states that my feedback on how the booking site should explicitly state that you have to pay extra to guarantee sitting with your family, will be actioned upon. - I doubt it.

He hopes that "this experience has not hampered my experience and I will use Thomson's in the future". - Not likely.

However, I am assured that forking out an additional £284.20 is and I quote "it is needed for a family travelling that distance and is worth every penny".


Quite frankly, I was considering an upgrade dependant on the price but once I am told that I have to, that gets me back up. It feels like a con, maybe because it is one.

Be warned. But do have a lovely holiday!