Ryanair’s new luggage policy

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Ryanair will only allow “priority” passengers to take luggage on board. Customers who don’t pay extra will only be allowed to take a small bag into the cabin.

Ryanair is making yet another change to its luggage policy. What the company is touting as a “reduced checked bag fees,” in reality will mean new charges for passengers who want to take two pieces of hand baggage on board flights, as they have been able to until now, thus avoiding that their larger cases are stowed in the hold.

“Only Priority Boarding customers (including Plus, Flexi Plus & Family Plus) will be allowed to bring two carry-on bags on the aircraft,” the company has announced via a press release. “All other (i.e. non-priority) customers will only be allowed to bring one smaller carry-on bag on board the aircraft, while their second (bigger) wheelie bag must be placed in the hold (free of charge) at the boarding gate.”

“Priority boarding” carries with it a charge of €5 per journey (€6 if it is paid after the reservation is completed), and allows passengers to board the aircraft first. This fee will now also allow passengers to take a standard piece of hand luggage onto the plane. The remainder of Ryanair customers will have to make do with a small item, such as a handbag, and leave their larger case at the door of the aircraft, from where it will be stowed in the hold. This will mean a wait at the luggage belts at the airport of arrival.

And should a passenger who has not paid the fee refuse to put their bags in the hold? “They will not be allowed to travel (without refunds).”

The policy change makes official what Ryanair has been calling on customers to do for months already. When a flight is full, many passengers are unable to take a larger piece of luggage on board given that the space on their planes is very limited.

For the low-cost airline, a larger item is limited to dimensions of 55cm by 40cm by 20cm. The smaller item comes in at 35cm by 20cm by 20cm.

From November 1, when the new restrictions come into effect, the airline will organize two lines: one for priority clients, and another for the rest of the passengers, who will have to prepare their larger item to hand over at the gate.

“As too many customers are availing of Ryanair’s improved 2 free carry-on bags service, and with high load factors (97% in August) there is not enough overhead cabin space for this volume of carry-on bags, which is causing boarding/flight delays,” the company explains in its press release.

During its expansion, Ryanair would strictly enforce its one-bag policy for flights, with boarding agents even insisting that passengers put books or other items in their luggage if they tried to board with them in their hands. What’s more, items taken onto planes would have to meet the strict dimensions imposed by the company. If not, they would have to be stowed, incurring a charge for the passenger.

Four years ago, however, the company relaxed its rules somewhat, and began to allow an additional, smaller piece of hand luggage per passenger.

This latest move is aimed at encouraging passengers to check their larger items.

In addition to the new rules, the company is also lowering its prices for checked suitcases. “The check-in bag allowance will increase from 15kg to 20kg for all bags. The standard check-in bag fee will be cut from €/£35 to €/£25 for this 20kg bag,” the press release reads. These new rules will also go into effect from November 1 onward.

The airline claims that these changes will cost it money. “These bag policy changes will cost Ryanair over €50m p.a. in reduced checked bag fees,” Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs announced via the press release. “However, we believe offering bigger bags at reduced fees will encourage more customers to consider checking-in a bag, which will reduce the high volume of customers we have with two carry-on bags at the boarding gates, which is causing flight delays due to large numbers of gate bag and cabin bag offloads.”

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