The Weird World Of Airline Fares

The world of airline fares can be strange. Just this week the Simple Flying team bought a ticket with Lufthansa. While the total cost came to just shy of €50, the fare itself was only €1. The remainder is allocated to fees and taxes. Simple Flying investigates Lufthansa, British Airways, and Ryanair.

Airline Fares
The world of airline fares can be confusing. Photo via Pixabay

Simple Flying took it upon themselves to investigate the weird world of airline fares. We will look at the fees and taxes charged, and how low-cost airlines keep their fares so low. Let us start our journey with a look at an example from Lufthansa.


Lufthansa is a full-service carrier operating short and long haul services from and within Europe. The Simple Flying team purchased a single ticket from Frankfurt to Manchester. The total cost came in at €49.44, just shy of £43. Information provided for the ticket shows that we paid a ticket price of €1.00, while taxes, fees, and surcharges came to €48.44.

Lufthansa Fares
The Lufthansa flight will be operated by an A320. Photo: Lufthansa

Fortunately for us, Lufthansa breaks down this large sum. Firstly, €9.50 covers the German Aviation Safety Charge. This charge offsets the cost of a security check by the German federal police. Next, we paid an “International Surcharge”. It was not immediately clear what this charge covers.

Next, we had an Air Transport Tax of €7.38. This is a set fare charged for every passenger, similar to the UK’s Air Passenger Duty. Finally, the largest charge paid was an International Passenger Service Charge. This amounted to €26.56.

British Airways

We also investigated an example from British Airways. For this example, return flights to Dubai in the premium economy cabin were used. The return price came to a total of £637.62. Of this total, only £210 was spent on the actual fare. Air Passenger Duty, came to a staggering £172.

British Airways
A British Airways Boeing 777 pushes back at Dubai. Photo: British Airways

There was then a passenger service charge included for both the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. This came to £46.62 and £15.70 respectively. There were then three minor charges levied by the UAE at £7.30, £1.00, and £2.00. This brought the total taxes and fees to £244.62. British Airways then levied a £183.00 fee labelled as a “carrier-imposed charge”.

Low-cost carriers

With these fees, it can seem crazy that legacy carriers can charge taxes, fees and charges which, on their own, come to more than some low-cost tickets. Let’s take the Example of Ryanair from London to Bremen. It is possible to purchase a ticket for this route for merely £8.

Now, Air Passenger Duty alone costs £13. Do the maths and a passenger who only pays the £8 means that Ryanair already loses £5 on that booking, before fuel and other costs are considered. Low-cost airlines have a few tricks up their sleeves to offset this shortfall.

Ryanair Fares
Ryanair offsets cheap fares with optional additional charges. Photo: Ryanair

With Ryanair, you can now only take one small item of hand luggage with you. Most people need more than this allowance to travel. In fact, Ryanair will charge for luggage, knowing passengers will pay. Additionally, they sell extras such as priority boarding and allocated seating. These are two services which cost the airline fairly little to implement, so are almost 100% profit.

What is the cheapest fare you have paid? Have you been charged some strange fees? Let us know in the comments down below!