For years, Ryanair had an incredibly limited and uncompromising baggage policy. Passengers could only bring one piece of hand luggage with them onboard the aircraft and the policy was strictly enforced. Gate agents would make everyone demonstrate that their bag could fit in the baggage sizer and if it didn’t, a hefty charge was levied. Even the smallest additional bag had to be consolidated into one.
Many an unfortunate passenger was caught out. Even the dimensions of a permitted cabin bag was different (ie. smaller) on Ryanair than other airlines – including comparable low-cost carriers. Before long, luggage manufacturers even started making cabin bags which were sized just right to travel on Ryanair.
The policy was, perhaps unsurprisingly, incredibly unpopular but then the Irish airline realised it paid to be nicer to its customers. Under its ‘Always Getting Better’ campaign, Ryanair significantly altered its in-cabin baggage policy, allowing passengers to bring two pieces of cabin bag with them for free (one small piece to fit under the seat in front and the other to go in an overhead locker)
Did being nice cause delays?
At the same time, gate agents and cabin crew became a little bit more relaxed about checking what passengers were bringing onboard but it wasn’t without its problems. Ryanair suddenly found itself facing the same issues that plague other carriers – far too many bags being brought onboard with no space to put them.
Ryanair started to incur delays – an added expense the airline could do without. In an attempt to temporarily relieve the issue, Ryanair started to gate check larger cabin bags for free. Only customers who had bought priority boarding would be guaranteed the opportunity to bring their bags on the plane with them.
But with that came yet more expense and delays. Which is why Ryanair is yet again changing its baggage policy – taking effect from 1st November for all passengers, regardless of when you bought your ticket.
The new baggage policy…
Here are the key changes:
- Only Priority Boarding customers will be able to bring two bags with them in the cabin. Priority boarding costs just €6 but is limited to only 95 passengers per flight (a Ryanair 737 can seat 189 passengers)
- Everyone else will only be allowed to bring one small bag that can fit under the seat in front of them onto the aircraft. For reference, the permitted dimensions are: 40x20x25cm.
- However, you can purchase checked baggage up to a maximum weight of 10kg for €8.
- This is in addition to the standard €25 fee for checked baggage up to a maximum weight of 20kg.
- If a non-priority passenger has a bag which doesn’t fit in the small bag sizer, they will incur a charge of €25 to gate check their cabin bag.
Punctuality, not money making says Ryanair
Ryanair says this change in policy is all about reducing delays – not making money or sneaking in an extra fee. In fact, the airline said in a statement that it might even lose revenue but it wanted to improve punctuality. In addition, Ryanair explained:
“We also believe that bigger bags is a service customers should pay for when our average fare is under €40.”
“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 (free) small bag as 30% already do so today,” explained Ryanair’s chief spokesperson, Kenny Jacobs.
Deal struck with pilots union
In more positive news, Ryanair today reached a tentative agreement with a pilots union in Ireland. The FORSA union had led five days of strike action during the summer but after a marathon negotiating session on Wednesday night, the two sides struck a deal.
The proposal will now be put to Ryanair’s directly employed pilots in Ireland, although the union is recommending they vote in favour.
It remains unclear, however, if any progress is being made with unions representing cabin crew at the airline. Flight attendants in several countries, including Spain and Portugal led a 48-hour strike in July and more may follow. The unions are demanding better pay, conditions and locally agreed contracts.