Italy’s competition watchdog launches probe into Ryanair’s hand luggage charges, saying cabin bags are an ‘essential item’ and should be included in the ticket price
- Antitrust says that hand luggage costs should be included in price of the ticket
- Says the new policy could amount to unfair commercial practice by the airline
- But Ryanair insists that the new rules still give passengers a generous allowance
Italy’s competition watchdog has opened an inquiry into Ryanair’s policy for hand baggage, saying it is an ‘essential item’ for travellers.
From November, Ryanair is stopping its policy of putting larger bags brought to the gate in the hold for free.
Now every customer who brings two bags for their flight will be charged in some way, whether it’s a priority boarding fee to bring two cabin bags or a check-in fee for something larger.
Italy’s competition watchdog Antitrust has announced it is launching an inquiry into Ryanair’s new baggage policy
Hand luggage is ‘an essential element of transport’ so Ryanair, and all other carriers, should include the price in the cost of a plane ticket, Antitrust said in a statement cited by the Italian press.
The new Ryanair policy could amount to unfair commercial practice in that it distorts the final price of the ticket and does not allow a true comparison with other airlines’ prices, according to Antitrust.
Italian consumer associations had complained to Antitrust about the Ryanair decision.
‘If its unfair commercial practice on hand luggage is confirmed, Ryanair… should reimburse all its customers who suffer unfair additional costs’, the association Codacons said in a statement, promising to take the matter to court if necessary.
Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary. He previously said that letting passengers check in cabin bags at the gate was ‘causing chaos’
But Kenny Jacobs from Ryanair insisted the new baggage policy was generous and that they would co-operate with the Italian inquiry in full.
He explained: ‘We look forward to co-operating with this Italian inquiry.
‘All Ryanair customers are free to bring one piece of carry-on bag on board. But no airline customer has a right to unlimited carry-on bags.
‘For safety reasons, most short haul aircraft cannot accommodate two carry-on bags for each customer.
‘From November, half our customers will continue to bring two “free” bags on board [see boxout below for clarification on why no one can actually bring two free bags on board] and the other half will continue to travel with one free small bag (which has been increased by 40 per cent in size) and can, if they so choose, check-in a second 10kg bag for a new lower fee of €8 (currently Ryanair’s lowest-cost check bag is €25).
‘All other airlines, including Alitalia, easyJet and BA, restrict the volume of carry-on bags for safety reasons. We look forward to explaining these safety restrictions and the generous carry-on bag policy to the Italian authority.’
The no-frills carrier has already altered its luggage policy twice this year and says the latest changes were necessary because too many passengers were arriving at the gates with big bags and placing them in the hold has been causing delays.
It originally thought that transferring big bags to the hold at the gate would speed things up because it would eliminate passengers struggling to fit wheelie bags into overhead lockers.
But in May, the airline’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, admitted that letting passengers check cabin bags at the gate was causing chaos and a ‘handling issue’ on flights.
The Italian inquiry heaps even more negative publicity on the Dublin-based carrier whose shareholders on Thursday delivered a blow to the airline’s chairman amid widespread strike action by European staff that has rattled confidence in the company.
Chairman David Bonderman was re-elected but only with 70.5 per cent of the vote at the annual general meeting – a drop from last year’s assembly where he garnered a 89.1 per cent endorsement.
‘Questions about the company’s business model and governance now pose a threat to shareholder value,’ said the chairman of one of the shareholders, the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum.
WHAT IS RYANAIR’S BAGGAGE POLICY?
Even seasoned fliers find Ryanair’s baggage policy confusing so here’s what you need to know.
The point of confusion with the policy centres around the carrier’s repeatedly made assertion that every customer is granted a ‘two free carry-on bag allowance’.
This needs clarification.
What the airline actually means is that all customers can bring two free carry-on bags with them to the airport and up to the gate, but that the larger of the two bags will be transferred at the gate to the hold.
Unless a ‘priority boarding’ fee is paid.
Priority Boarding can be purchased at time of flight booking for £5 or £6 on selected routes. It can be added for £6 or £7 on selected routes up to 30 minutes before scheduled departure time on the Ryanair App.
However, from November 1, the baggage policy is set to change again.
Passengers without priority boarding wanting to bring a second big bag with them will have to pay between £8 and £10 to check in a bag up to 10kg or £25 for a bag over that weight.
However, if a passenger opts to pay for priority boarding, which costs between £6 and £8, they can still take two bags with them on board with no extra charge.
All passengers will still be allowed to take one ‘small personal bag’ on board, to be placed under the seat in front.
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