Ryanair has announced that it will be charging passengers to bring small suitcases on board, which to the ire of passengers, were previously free to check in at the gate.
From November customers will be charged £6 to £8 a journey to check in a 10kg bag and will only be able to take on a small carry-on bag which must fit under the seat. A fee of £25 will remain for passengers wishing to check in a larger 20kg bag.
However, priority customers will be able to bring on a free 10kg wheelie bag and a small bag as hand luggage at an additional cost of £6. But the number of priority tickets is limited to 95 customers per flight out of a total of 189 seats.
The airline has tried to sell the change as a good news story by claiming it will cut check in bag fees and reduce boarding delays.
Ryanair’s chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs says: “This new policy will speed up the boarding and cut flight delays. 60% of customers will be unaffected by these changes and we expect that the other 40% will either choose to buy priority boarding or a 10kg check bag, or will choose to travel with only one small bag as 30% already do so today.”
But Megan French, consumer expert at MoneySavingExpert says the complicated changes will make it almost impossible for travellers to accurately compare flight prices.
“While many flight comparison sites will let you filter by hold luggage, they don’t account for discrepancies within hand luggage rules and so customers could end up paying extra if they do want to take the usual cabin-sized small suitcase on board.
“Customers who want to fly Ryanair must remember before they book that they will have to pay an extra £6 to take their cabin bags on board, or accept a very small luggage allowance.”
Last year the budget airline announced that 10kg hand luggage would have to be placed in the hold – although at that time it was free of charge. The implementation of this change was then delayed by two and a half months due to customer confusion.
Ryanair "playing dangerous game"
The airline is struggling with a series of problems in 2018 according to Hannah Maundrell, editor in chief of Money.co.uk. She explains: "Ryanair are playing a dangerous game if they want to remain a key player amongst the budget airlines. For a brand who have had such negative press this year it's a bold move to make.
"Added extras for flights are already hugely annoying for travellers, adding even more will simply make consumers go elsewhere. This is going to affect those who want to get away for short weekend breaks the most as they will now be forced to pay for luggage they previously wouldn't have been charged for.
"Ryanair is likely in trouble after all the flight compensation they've had to pay out over the last year. Although this change is marketed to be a time saver for flyers, it could just be a money making ploy to claw back some of their profits.
"If you’re flying short haul this is yet more reason to focus on price and proximity to your destination. Fly cheap and cheerful but always check what you’re getting for your money - once all those extras have been added on check if flying with a budget airline is still worth it. Your consumer rights mean you shouldn’t be treated like cattle whichever airline you fly with."