In Brief

Ryanair baggage rules: new changes explained

From 1 November, customers will have to pay to bring a small suitcase on board the plane

Passengers on Ryanair flights are no longer allowed to take a small suitcase for free from today as the budget airline’s second major change to cabin baggage policy of 2018 comes into effect.

The carrier has cut the volume of hand luggage that travellers can take to the departure gate by two-thirds and introduced a fee for anything larger.

Instead of the previous free cabin baggage allowance of one small suitcase weighing up to 10kg, passengers will be restricted to a single case measuring 40x25x20cm - around the size of a large handbag or laptop bag, The Independent reports.

The total volume of free hand luggage cannot exceed 20 litres, compared with the previous limit of 58 litres spread across a maximum of two bags.

Passengers who need to bring a larger carry-on bag will have to pay extra for Priority Boarding, which costs £6 per person.

However, as the BBC notes, priority boarding is limited to 95 customers per flight  – around half of the total. 

The remaining passengers will have to fork out between £8 and £10 to have their mid-size bag checked into the hold.

Bags weighing more than 10kg will still be checked in at the current rate of £25 per bag.

The budget operator has repeatedly been criticised for charging extra fees for services that are standard on other airlines. 

But Ryanair claims the latest changes are part of a push to “improve punctuality and reduce boarding gate delays”, rather than an attempt to raise extra revenue.

“Main benefits of this new policy will be reduced flight delays and cheaper checked bag option. Pack more liquids into a 10kg checked wheelie bag. Walk to the boarding gate ‘hands free’,” a statement on the airline's website says. 

“Punctuality has been a challenge this year,” Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, told The Independent. He blamed passenger hand luggage for the delays. 

“We’ve flagged for a while that while we love offering two cabin bags, it was creating a problem at the boarding gates,” Jacobs said.

As a result of the changes, the airline expects to see customers “packing a little bit lighter” in future, he added. 

Around 30,000 Ryanair passengers were expected to depart today from Stansted Airport, the main hub for Ryanair. Sophie Griffiths, editor of Travel Trade Gazette, fears some passengers are only finding out about the new rules when they arrive at the airport.

“I'm not sure everyone will be aware of the changes - it could result in massive confusion,” she says. “It's just one more thing for passengers to get their heads around.”

The airline is also facing a few problems. Italy’s competition watchdog has launched an inquiry into the policy and has ordered Ryanair to suspend the new policy on flights to and from Italy. The ruling also applies to Hungarian airline Wizz Air, which brought in similar baggage rules today.

The body says that hand luggage is an essential part of travelling and should be included in the ticket price, adding that the new baggage policies do not allow a true and fair comparison with other airlines' prices as it distorts the final price of the ticket.

Ryanair is reportedly appealing the inquiry, claiming that the authority cannot dictate on issues that affect airline punctuality, The Independent reports.

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