Consumer queries: When a €15 bag check-in service costs €50

Plus: never pay off-site for accommodation listed on Airbnb

Eoin Riordan went on a family holiday to Barcelona in May and had a most unpleasant experience on his return journey. Before he went to the airport he logged in to the "Manage my booking" area of the website to add a checked-in bag. It costs €15 if done online.

There was, however, a problem with the website and it would not allow him check in the bag online. Instead it offered him a code, which he was told he could quote as a reference when he got to the airport.

"The following morning, with my two kids in tow, we were really put through the wringer at Barcelona Airport, where we queued for ages to check in. Then we were told at the check-in desk that we had to go to another booth in the airport to pay an agent acting for Aer Lingus.

So that is what they did. After queuing again, he told the booth attendants about the problem with the website the previous day and showed them the codes the website had given him. He says he was “basically laughed at and told pay a €50 charge or miss the flight. After coughing up the €50, I then had to queue again to check in my bag – which I was now tempted to abandon. It brought an unnecessarily stressful end to an otherwise really enjoyable holiday.


“I was very annoyed that this code basically stood for nothing,” Eoin continues. “And that a service they offered and advertised – checking in online – was unavailable. Then, to top it all off, I was surcharged and put through the wringer at the airport.

The story does not end there.

As soon as he landed in Cork Airport, he went straight to the Aer Lingus desk. “And of course I was told to email customer care, which I did on May 21st. I was given a case reference number and have since tried to mail to make contact. I have heard nothing and am now due to fly again with them this Saturday. I was just wondering could you prompt a reply, as I am just annoyed by the whole way we have been treated throughout all of this.

We contacted the airline and a spokeswoman said it had now written to the customer “to apologise for the problem with baggage charges at Barcelona on this occasion”. She said the airline would refund the €50.

Never pay off-site for an Airbnb listing
A reader contacted us after she and her husband were scammed when they tried to find accommodation on Airbnb. They found a place for a trip to Amsterdam. "As the property was available on Airbnb, and as first-time users of the site, we were duped into thinking it was legitimate.

"My husband had sent me the invoice, and I made a payment of €800 directly to the account on the invoice through AIB. I did the payment in the morning, and my husband informed Airbnb that the payment had been made that afternoon."

The site contacted him to say it was a scam and they had no record of any booking. “I immediately contacted AIB, who informed me that the payment had gone through already and that they couldn’t stop it. Despite reporting this to the fraud department, I received no compensation from AIB or Airbnb.

This scam is horribly clever. The scammers post bogus listings on the site and then ask for payment outside of the Airbnb platform. In this case, the payment was made directly to an overseas bank account, so Airbnb is not under any obligation to cover the losses. It is well aware that such scams exist and claims to have “zero tolerance for the abuse of our site”. It says that as soon as rogue listings are tracked down, they are immediately removed. And it points out that it protects hosts and guests by handling all transactions through a secure payment platform. If this reader had booked and paid through the Airbnb website, the money would have been protected.

If a host on the Airbnb site asks for payment off-site, it must be reported to Airbnb by flagging the message. If anyone receives a personal email from anyone (such as an or any other email address) asking for payment off-site, let the site know immediately.

"You won't receive a paper or PDF invoice from a host or from Airbnb asking you for payment. Any of the following key words and similar terms should be immediately flagged or avoided: Western Union, MoneyGram, cashier's check, money order, Liberty Reserve," the site says.