Pricewatch readers’ queries: Beware of regional versus domestic baggage allowances
Regional flight bookings may come with lower cabin baggage allowances than those offered on domestic flights
The issue of excess baggage and checked-in versus cabin baggage is always guaranteed to annoy people, but we came across a story recently that is both absurd and patently unfair.
“This is a brief synopsis of what happened to my parents on a recent journey to Birmingham in the UK, for the funeral of my mam’s brother,” writes our correspondent Claire.
“I booked flights for them both on the Aer Lingus website,” she says. “During the booking process it indicated that the return flight I had chosen was “operated by Stobart Air”, but there was no other information to explain/highlight that this was a regional, as opposed to domestic flight and would therefore have more limited cabin baggage restrictions.”
So her parents arrived in Birmingham airport to discover that because their baggage, which had been within the acceptable limits for their outbound flight “was outside the limits for regional flights, and the baggage had to be checked in at an extra charge of £40.”
Upon their return Claire duly complained and just received a reply which said as a gesture of goodwill they would refund the charge.
“However, I feel they are still missing the point; that their website does not highlight it sufficiently to customers that the flight they have chosen or are about to choose, is a regional flight, and therefore comes with more limited baggage allowances and a very different flight experience. And until they amend their site suitably, I fear that many others, like my parents, will unwittingly choose a regional flight option and be penalised by having to pay extra baggage charges.”
An Aer Lingus spokeswoman said that “during the booking flow, when a customer makes a booking on an Aer Lingus Regional service operated by Stobart Air, a link is provided to a baggage information page. We do provide refunds in the event that a customer is charged in such a circumstance, as in this instance.”
Richard Branson and the Virgin Media ‘three months free’ offer
A reader called Cian contacted us in connection with Virgin Media, a company you might recognise as UPC. “I’m writing to you as a former UPC customer who is now with Virgin Media and about to be billed for October”, is how his mail begins.
“I would like to bring it to your attention that when Richard Branson was on The Late Late Show on October 2nd, he announced that all former UPC customers will get free service on Virgin Media for the next three months. Since then I was assuming that the service I’m receiving from Virgin Media for October, November and December is going to be free, but I have received a bill for €93.91 for October. Can you help to put some clarity on this matter as all former UPC customers are going to be affected by this?”
We contacted the company and a spokesman said, “Richard did mention about offering existing customers a free service – this relates to our Virgin Mobile 3 free months free offer for existing customers from Monday October 5th and it is still open.”
The offer is for mobile phones though and not the telly though. More’s the pity.
No rush to eat your veggies – they’re good till you need them
A reader contacted us in a rage about vegetables. She noticed that veggies she buys in Lidl do not carry a best before date and she wants to know why? “How are they allowed to get away with it,” she asked.
They can “get away with it” because there is no law stating that carrying such information is a requirement. According to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, among the things that do not need to be date stamped are “fresh fruit and vegetables, including potatoes, which have not been peeled, cut or similarly treated.
“However, this does not apply to sprouting seeds and similar products such as legume sprouts which do require a date of minimum durability”.
And we have to say this is eminently sensible. While use-by dates have an important role to play in keeping us healthy, we have become slaves to a best before culture that sees random dates slapped on products by retailers more concerned about stock control than public health.
And that is responsible for a significant amount of food waste across the developed world.