An air passenger has described how Flybe quoted him a staggering £700 for a return flight from Aberdeen to Southampton – for his dog!
Levenwick resident Steve Mitchell was astounded after he was told by airline staff of a £350 charge
each way to transport his pet pooch Zooma between the Granite City and the south-of-England airport.
The eye-watering figure contrasts with the paltry £20 return fee which Loganair offered to charge for the Sumburgh-Aberdeen leg of the journey.
The bill also came close to matching the £800 needed to take the family of four on their summer holiday south.
Mr Mitchell, 65, of Seggieburn, said he had wanted to take his young terrier, which has been in the family for the past year and a half, down for his mother-in-law, who had recently lost her own dog, to see. But the exorbitant price charged by Flybe meant the dog never left the isles.
“It was two to three weeks ago when we went away,” the retired Shetland Farm Dairies manager said.
“It’s been simmering away in my mind for a long while. I’m still mad about it because I don’t see how one company can charge you 20 quid for a return trip and the other one wants to charge £350 for one way.
“We went down to see my wife’s mum. She lives down in Wiltshire and we fly down to Southampton usually. She recently lost her dog, had had it for quite a long time, and is quite fond of our dog so we thought we would take him down.”
Mr Mitchell is not keen on relying on kennels, which he described as “impersonal”. So Zooma instead ended up being looked after by friends in Yell while Mr Mitchell, his wife Elizabeth, 47, and sons Ben, 12, and seven year-old Fergus took their summer break.
The change of plan was not before Mr Mitchell incurred the added expense of buying an “airline-accredited dog cage”, which he said was now “sitting in the garage unused”.
The dog-lover said he found it difficult to understand why there was such a difference in the prices quoted by Loganair and Flybe.
“I’m not sure of the reasoning behind it,” he said. “It can’t cost that much. The only thing I can assume is they [Flybe] don’t want to take dogs, so they price it out of the game.”
The news comes shortly after Flybe came under fire from Loganair after announcing the two would go head-to-head for passengers on the Shetland route.
Flybe chiefs met the public last week as the company, and its new partner Eastern Airways, outlined plans for their new service starting in September.
Mr Mitchell said hidden charges meant the newcomer was less attractive a proposition as it may have originally appeared.
He added: “On the face of it Flybe look to be very competitive, but there are other charges which they’re not so keen to quote such as luggage.
“At the moment they’re charging you for credit card bookings which Loganair don’t, and Loganair don’t charge for luggage either. This just seemed to be another hidden cost, if you like.”
Flybe stated this week: “The safety and security of our passengers (both canine and human) is Flybe’s number one priority at all times.
“As an IATA-regulated airline, Flybe fully complies with IATA’s stringent Live Animals Regulations (LARS). This is the accepted worldwide standard for transporting animals in a safe and humane way by commercial airlines that protects both the customer and the airline. For this there are associated processing costs.
“Not knowing the exact details, Flybe cannot comment on the alleged quote given to Mr Mitchell.”