Ryan Air – Beware of the Extras

My wife and I recently got to spend a weekend in Rome, and we had a great time soaking up the atmosphere and tasting some excellent food. Unfortunately we experienced a spot of aggravation with Ryan Air on the return journey.

We flew with Ryan Air from Luton on the outward journey, and since we were only going for the weekend we packed all our luggage into a single bag. It weighed in at 17.8KG so I paid an extra £10 (on top of the £10 already paid online).

Aside from the lurid yellow colour scheme in the cabins, Ryan Air have stripped out elasticated seat pockets so you have nowhere to put your stuff apart from on your lap or the tray table. I assume this is to save money maintaining them. And the £1.90 you pay for a tea doesn’t include a holder, so the cup is initially very hot to handle. But I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised by these costs-cutting measures as they do advertise themselves as the “low fares airline”. Except that the price for two return flights was £419.96, and taxes, fees and charges took the total to more than £500. The girl next to us had paid more than £300 for her ticket.

However, my real gripe with Ryan Air is the opportunistic, arguably misleading, pricing they adopt for checked in luggage. Here are the details that were included on the booking confirmation:

RYANAIR CHECKED AND HAND BAGGAGE POLICY:

The checked baggage allowance is 15kg per person (no infant allowance).
No pooling/sharing of baggage allowances is permitted, even for
passengers travelling together on the same reservation.

Customers wishing to check baggage into the hold of the aircraft must pay a
Baggage Fee for each item of checked baggage, per flight. The Baggage Fee
can be prepaid either at the airport, or through a Ryanair call centre, at
the rate of 7GBP/10EUR) (»10/€12 for all flights from the 1st March 2007
onwards) per item of baggage/per one-way flight.

BABY BUGGIES, WHEELCHAIRS, SCOOTERS AND WALKING FRAMES ARE CARRIED FREE OF
CHARGE

Each passenger can carry one piece of hand baggage onto the aircraft
restrictions apply – click here for details.
<link removed as the page is no longer available>
The following hand baggage restrictions apply per person (no infant allowance
Maximum weight – 10kgs Maximum dimensions 55cm x 40cm x 20cm.

On our return trip we packed more stuff into our hold luggage because we had purchased a few items, including some fantastic olive oil (which would not have been allowed through in our cabin luggage with the current security restrictions). So we were up to 25KG. I was fully prepared for paying for the extra bag and even tried to save time by going to the ticket desk and paying before check in but was told that I had to check in first.

So we arrived at the check-in desk and were sternly informed that we were over our allowance and would need to pay for the extra. I dutifully returned to the ticket desk and waited at the busy (of course) excess baggage counter until it was my turn. The girl at the counter informed me that the luggage was 10KG over which was chargeable at £5.50 per kilo (and by the way they don’t take cash on the RyanAir desk, although they do on Easyjet). I pointed out that if the 25KG was split between 2 bags I would only have had to pay an extra £10. She repeated “It is Ryan Air policy”, and the heated discussion was brought to a close when I requested to see which part of policy reflects this. She printed the terms and conditions from the web site, which do describe charging the excess rate.

I believe that this approach is at best opportunistic. The pricing description in the booking confirmation seems to describe the luggage pricing, and gives no indication that there is another pricing scheme. When I mentioned this to some of my colleagues they weren’t surprised. But I guess it’s one of those situations where they only catch you once.

Bottom line: take an extra bag; or do yourself a favour and fly with a better airline.

13 Responses to Ryan Air – Beware of the Extras

  1. vespatian says:

    From a business perspective, Ryanair is admired for achieving the highest margins by far of any airline, even compared to other budget carriers. I think however, that they have reached the limit now, and going any further will actually deter even the most cost-concious traveller.

    If you see the new ‘budget’ carriers that are emerging, they are taking a new approach: flying from main airports, showing films on board, etc. I think the trend is now reversing and Ryanair will have to adapt soon.

    I can strongly recommend Vueling.com with whom I recently flew from Rome to Paris. Fantastic new planes, friendly service, 20kg luggage allowance and not too strict (I was 3kg over and they said it was fine because I had no hand luggage).

  2. Paul says:

    Your comments about Ryanair baggage policy does not suprise me. It seems that baggage has become the new way for airlines to add extra charges on top of the ticket price.

    Every airline now seems to have different policy, and as you have found you need to read them very carefully before you travel. So I have decided to create a page with links to the baggage rules for over 40 different European airlines. You may find it useful next time you travel It is here: http://www.allcheapflights.co.uk/Travel-Guides/6/Airline-Luggage-Allowance

  3. Thanks vespatian and Paul for your comments.

    @vespatian, As you say, customers want decent service and although Ryan Air claimed in their magazine that they have a high rating (= few complaints), that doesn’t tally with my experience.

    @Paul, I don’t think Ryan Air’s policy is particularly clear when you are charged per bag, and when you are charged excess. You might find it useful to supplement your set of links with user comments / blog posts etc.

  4. SRiches says:

    Currently flying with RyanAir and thought we would be ahead of their charging tactics – our complaint is that the website (deliberately)is not clear – is it 15kg PLUS 10kg hand luggage? We don’t want to risk it, from past experience, but Ryan Air cannot be reached by phone (recorded messages or through to engaged tones – there is no phone queuing system) or email. They do not want passengers to have the correct information to work to, as it would lower their income from charges. Simple. So even if you do ‘beware of the extras’ you often cannot avoid being caught by them.

  5. John says:

    Just flew with Vueling for the first time, and on the whole they were very good. One thing to beware of is the acceptable dimensions for cabin luggage. On the return flight from Rome the Vueling check-in staff were being very pernickety, making people put their hand-luggage in a gauge to check it for size, and a lot were being rejected as oversized and checked in as hold-luggage, for which a fee is payable. The thing about this is that Vueling’s acceptable hand luggage size is smaller than some other airlines, at 55x40x20 cms. For example, my friend’s “cabin-size” case comes in at 22cm deep and is therefore a no-go with Vueling. Rather a pain….

  6. Sarajane says:

    I’m flying with ryanair soon and I just want to travel with cabin luggage. I found your blog trying to find out restriction details on cabin luggage! I eventually found a link to it on the site. It was under terms and conditions:
    http://www.ryanair.com/site/EN/notices.php?notice=060811-UK-EN&view=email
    Their site is atrocious!

  7. Alan W says:

    “Take an extra bag” : I think not. I recently found out, to my cost , that booking an extra bag via Ryan air’s website (27 euro plus 4 euro handling fee) is a CON beyond any other underhand stunt that the airline has pulled. You pay the money for the extra bag, but this does not buy you any extra weight. I was told at the airport, “you can pay for as many bags as you like, but you still have to pay excess for every kilo above 15 kilo’s. This is in their terms and conditions, but is underhand and misleading.

  8. Thanks all for your comments.

    I confess I’ve only flown with Ryan Air once since the original post and on that occasion I only had a light ruck sack so was without incident. It doesn’t surprise me that they’re tweaking the rules to catch passengers out.

  9. Jackson says:

    Re Jon – Ryanair’s luggage policy I have just spent a day trying to find a bag 50cm x 40cm x 20cm and they don’t exist! What happens if it is slightly over as in your firend’s case (excuse the pun) by less than an inch? The nearest in size I found weighed 3kg ie 1/3 of the total hand luggage allowance. The irony of all this is that I could weigh 20 stone which would be several people’s luggage allowance. Hold on – that might be next big wheeze!

  10. paul says:

    i am due to fly may 2009 ryan air first time can any one give me any info to
    bagauge labels
    check-in details
    louiseirvine5@hotmail.co.uk

  11. Hi Guys
    Don’t forget to check out Intelligent Luggage new self weighing suitcases which are available in the UK and the USA from next spring.
    No more excess luggage charges!!
    Happy Days

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