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Europe’s largest low-cost airline has been dealing with a massive strike, causing issues for travelers all over the continent. Now, there’s even more bad news for travelers: Ryanair has introduced confusing new baggage rules and fees, which include charging passengers for large carry-on luggage. This follows other changes that were announced in January.

Before, Ryanair allowed customers to gate check large carry-on bags for free. Now travelers will have to pay between 6 and 10 euros (~$7 to $11.50) to check their carry-ons (up to 10 kg) along with any other larger checked bags at the bag drop counter. Flyers who purchased a base ticket will still be able to bring a small carry-on bag aboard the aircraft (which must fit below the seat in front of them).

Those who purchase the “Priority & 2 Cabin Bags” add-on will still be able to bring both a large and small carry-on bag onto the aircraft free of charge — that fare also includes priority boarding.

And while it seems to make a lot more sense to purchase the “Priority & 2 Cabin Bags” add-on, which usually costs 4 to 12 euros, Ryanair will cap the amount of passengers who can buy that add-on at 95 (out of 189 total passengers if a flight is full). So it’s possible some passengers will be forced into checking their luggage at the check-in counter or paying a higher gate check fee.

Ryanair claims that the new fees will cut down on travelers gate-checking bags — therefore speeding up the boarding process and reducing delays.

“Previously, all non-priority customers could bring 1 (small) carry-on bag and 1 bigger (wheelie) bag free of charge.” the airline said. “The bigger bag was tagged at the gate and put in the hold (for free). This led to the tagging of up to 120 free gate bags which caused delays to 25min turnarounds.”

There is a silver lining though. The airline will reduce the fee to check a bag and has increased the maximum size of small carry-on bags. Checked bag fees will fall from 25 euros (~$29) to 8 euros (~$9) and small carry-ons can now be 40% bigger. However, if your checked bag weighs more than 10 kilograms (about 22 pounds, the previous weight limit for large carry-ons), you’ll have to pay extra depending on bag weight, route and the time of year you’re traveling.

The new policy will be implemented for bookings made after Sept. 1 and will go live at boarding gates on Nov. 1.

“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,” Ryanair spokesperson Kenny Jacobs said in a statement.

So, what happens if a non-priority customer comes to the gate with a large carry-on bag, and they have not booked it in advance?

“They will be charged the gate bag fee of €/£25 (about $29 or $32 USD) and the bag will be placed in the aircraft hold,” Ryanair answered in its extensive FAQ page regarding the new policies.

It also said that if they allowed 10kg bags to be checked in for free, it would move the problem of delays from the boarding gate to the bag drop desk. So it appears that Ryanair is encouraging some customers to travel with just the free, smaller carry-on bag.

The airline even claims that it won’t be making any money from the new fees because it expects more customers to switch from checking large checked bags to only checking large carry-ons that are checked in at the check-in desk for a reduced fee.

The new rules aren’t only confusing to passengers, who complained about the changes on social media, but it took two TPG writers (one who’s a frequent Ryanair flyer) quite awhile to decipher the changes.

Ryanair rivals like Easyjet, Norewegian and Wizz still permit one free carry-on bag in the cabin.

The airline is still in the midst of a massive employee strike that led to more than 55,000 stranded passengers earlier this month and hundreds of canceled flights. Yesterday, Ryanair said it reached an agreement with an Irish pilots union that will help bring the strike to an end. So far, the strike has cost the airline an estimated 4 billion euros.

So if you’re flying Ryanair, make sure to understand its new policy’s, and the rule from TPG’s Ryanair Survival Guide to spend a little extra on priority boarding definitely still applies.

Featured image by SOPA Images / Contributor / Getty Images.
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