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Last month Ryanair introduced a new and incredibly convoluted baggage policy, which penalizes customers who bring aboard large carry-on luggage.
Two European countries are now investigating the airline for violating air transport regulations because of the airline’s new rules.
Before the rule change, Ryanair allowed customers to gate-check large carry-on bags for free. The airline now wants passengers to purchase priority boarding, which comes with one free large and small carry-on bag. However, the airline will cap the amount of people who can purchase priority boarding, therefore forcing some passengers to pay higher checked baggage fees.
Ryanair says the move wasn’t about making more money, but to discourage passengers who were gate-checking bags, which in turn slowed down the boarding process and caused delays. If passengers don’t purchase priority boarding they’re encouraged to check their bag at the airline’s check-in desk, which will cost more than priority boarding.
Italy’s antitrust agency and a Spanish consumer protection group have filed complaints against the airline’s new fees. Italy said, “hand luggage was ‘an essential element of transport'” according to the BBC, while Spain’s Facua-Consumers in Action group said the change causes “serious harm to consumers, violates their rights and breaches the basic conditions of the air transport contract.”
Facua argues that Ryanair is breaking Spain’s Air Navigation Law, which requires carriers to transport hand-luggage in the cabin for free.
Because the new baggage rules are so confusing, Italy says that it misrepresents what the final price of a trip will actually cost. While this makes sense, it’s a bit confusing as to why authorities would act now — Ryanair has always tacked on hoards of ancillary fees to their tickets. In fact, 27 percent of its revenue came from fees in 2017.
“If its unfair commercial practice on hand luggage is confirmed, Ryanair… should reimburse all its customers who suffer unfair additional costs,” the Italian Codacons consumer protection association said in a statement.
However, the airline doesn’t seem to be worried about the probes.
“We look forward to co-operating with this Italian inquiry,” said Ryanair spokesman Kenny Jacobs. “All Ryanair customers are free to bring one piece of carry-on bag onboard. But no airline customer has a right to unlimited carry-on bags.”
Meanwhile, Ryanair has been hit by a wave of pilot strikes that have left hundreds of flights cancelled affecting tens of thousands of customers.
Featured image by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images.
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