Ryanair has had its hand baggage fees described as “excessive” and “abusive” by a Spanish court after a passenger was fined for bringing a 10kg bag on board. The passenger had not bought a priority ticket and attempted to board with two cabin bags.
The passenger, traveling on a Ryanair flight from Madrid to Brussels, received a €20 ($22) fine for trying to bring her bag into the cabin. The budget airline, which is known for its ever-changing and restrictive baggage policy, currently only permits small hand luggage bags that can be stowed under the seat in front.
The airline introduced the new policy last year so passengers will be charged for traveling with anything more than one small handbag or laptop bag. Before the policy change, passengers could travel with a handbag or laptop bag plus a small suitcase.
The policy clearly states that extra baggage or larger luggage can be bought as part of an upgraded ticket or, if not bought in advance, will invoke a fine. The woman in question had paid €35.69 for a standard ticket and had not paid for any extra baggage or for a large item. She then tried to board the flight with a small handbag and the 10kg bag which would supposedly not have fit into the cabin.
However, the commercial court in Spain has ruled that the baggage would easily have fit in the cabin and that the woman should be refunded, with interest. The judge did not believe that the situation caused enough stress to the passenger to warrant the €10 ($11) compensation which the passenger demanded.
The judge ruled that the policy was now null and void and ordered Dublin-based Ryanair to “remove it”. The ruling means that the policy will no longer be valid in Spain. The judge cited a 2014 case involving budget airline Vueling in which a court stated that baggage is “an indispensable element of the transport of passengers and, as such, cannot be subject to a price supplement,”. The exception to this is luggage which does not fit the dimensions.
Although Ryanair cannot appeal the decision due to the time elapsed, the airline has issued a statement saying it will not be changing its policy.
“This ruling will not affect Ryanair’s baggage policy, either in the past or in the future, as it is an isolated case that misinterpreted our commercial freedom to determine the size of our cabin baggage”
A common occurrence
This is not the first time Ryanair’s baggage policy has resulted in court intervention. In March of this year, Ryanair was fined €13 million in Italy for “deceiving” customers with fares that do not reflect the full price and require additional purchases. Although this fine was annulled last month, it does show a trend in which Ryanair’s cabin bag policy receives a lot of unwanted attention.
But if they receive so many hefty fines, is it worth it? Well, The Telegraph published a study by IdeaWorksCompany which states that Ryanair made more than £2.8 billion in 2018 from extra baggage and seat selection fees. This is more than any other airline, excluding the main US carriers, and certainly explains why the airline is reluctant to change its policy.
Do you think Ryanair was right in charging the passenger extra because she didn’t buy a priority ticket? Or do you think their policy is unnecessarily harsh? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.