by Hugh Morris, The Telegraph, May 30, 2018
Ryanair has quietly increased the cost of guaranteeing your hand luggage will travel with you in the cabin.
The low-cost airline said in January that only passengers who pay £5 for priority boarding will be able to keep their holdall or carry-on suitcase with them during a flight - everyone else faces having their bag put in the hold (free of charge).
The policy amounted to a £10 charge per return flight for anyone who wants to fly with their carry-on bag - with an eligibility to join the priority queue seemingly of secondary importance.
But at some point this month the Irish carrier, without an announcement, increased the charge on the majority of its routes to £14 per return flight if paid during the online check-in process.
On the Ryanair website the fee was displayed as €5/£5 “online” and €6/£6 for “post booking/airport”, but added that “an increased charge is applicable for priority boaring [sic] on selected routes”.
Telegraph Travel conducted a spot-check and found the online fee for the majority of routes investigated, including Alicante, Hamburg, and Lisbon, was the higher €6/£6 rather than €5/£5. It would likely rise to €7/£7 at check-in.
However, a flight from Luton to Faro, for example, displayed a cheaper £5 priority boarding fee.
Ryanair has not revealed which other routes remain priced at £5.
A spokesperson said: “Like all businesses, our optional fees can change unlike our fares which keep coming down. There have been some recent changes as per our list of fees published on our website here .
“Priority boarding, which allows customers to bring two pieces of hand luggage on board with them and board the plane first, costs €5/€6 (depending on the route) at the time of booking and €6/€7 (depending on the route) when added to a booking.”
Only last week CEO Michael O’Leary warned that the airline is considering changing its baggage policy for the second time this year after warning that the new rule is creating a “handling issue” .
The original rule change, introduced in January, was motivated by the airline’s belief that passengers were abusing their carry-on allowance by travelling with “the kitchen sink” .
To check a bag with Ryanair costs €25/£25 online, each way, or €40/£40 at the airport, with a €11/£11 per kilo excess fee.
Nick Trend, Telegraph Travel’s consumer expert, said the carrier could solve its baggage conundrum by reducing the cost of checking a bag.
“The reason Ryanair is struggling with this problem is twofold,” he said. “First, its checked in baggage fees are so high that people will obviously try to avoid them by bringing only hand baggage. Second, its flights are so heavily booked that there is not enough space for all passengers to bring their hand baggage into the cabin.
“If Ryanair wants to improve the experience of its passengers, the solution is obvious - lower the cost of checking in hold baggage.”
Priority boarding is not the only charge which Ryanair has quietly increased “on selected routes”.
The airline has notes on a number of seat selection options that state: “an increased charge is applicable... on selected routes”.
For example, on a flight from London Stansted to Palma de Mallorca, the Ryanair website quotes “standard seat selection” at £10, rather than the £4 displayed on the airline’s fees page, more than double.
Front seat selection is from £17, rather than £13, and extra legroom seats cost from £20, rather than £15. Priority boarding is also charged at the increased rate of “from £6”.
The airline has not responded to a request for clarification as to which routes the increased charges apply and when they were introduced.
Similarly, Telegraph Travel found that checking a bag on the same flight to Palma costs £35 each way, rather than the £25 quoted on the fees page.
A 2016 study found that Ryanair was more reliant on extra charges than all but four other airlines, with 26.8 per cent of its income from ancillary sources.
Earlier this month, Ryanair shortened the window of time during which passengers can check in online before a flight for free, from four days to 48 hours before departure.