Ryanair defends €5 'anti-family' bag charge hike
THE Consumers' Association has described Ryanair's decision to increase baggage charges as an attack on families.
The airline said yesterday it would increase the online fee for checked-in baggage from €15 to €20 per bag during July and August, a hike of 33pc.
The new higher charges will apply to all bookings made after midnight tonight for flights during July and August, and will revert to the lower €15 rate in September.
Passengers who decide to check a bag in at the last minute when at the airport, or are forced to do so by Ryanair if they exceed the 10kg hand baggage allowance, will also see the price increase from €30 to €40 for a one-way air journey during July and August.
The Consumers Association of Ireland criticised the move as a calculated attack on families and other travellers going on summer holidays.
"This is a very strategic and calculated move that has clearly been designed to extract the maximum amount out of people who don't really have an option about needing to check bags in," said chief executive Dermott Jewell.
"Families have to take holidays when children are out of school, and they need to bring significant amounts of baggage if they're going for a two-week holiday, there's no way around it for a lot of people, and all these add-on charges really add up," he pointed out.
It was also a bit rich of Ryanair to hike charges yet again given that it was constantly criticising the Government's decision to impose a €10 departure tax, claiming it would deter tourists, Mr Jewell added.
For a family of four bringing one checked bag each, the baggage charges alone would now amount to €160 for a return flight -- up from €120 at present.
UK consumer group Which? also criticised Ryanair for "penalising those families who can only go away on holidays during this time".
"Has Michael O'Leary ever tried taking a family of four on holiday without a suitcase or two?" said Rochelle Turner of Which? Holiday.
"Flying with Ryanair is not always as cheap as it first appears and we would advise passengers to factor in these extra costs when choosing who to fly with this summer," she said.
But Ryanair defended the charge increase, saying that unlike the government charge, it was entirely optional and passengers could choose to travel light.
The aim was to reduce overall costs and would enable Ryanair to keep providing lower airfares, which meant even if they factored in these charges, people could still pay less to go on holiday for less than they used to, said spokesman Stephen McNamara.
"Rather than a family of four bringing four bags, they might only bring two bags, and even the children will bring the full 10kg hand allowance, it is a move to try and get people to travel light," he said.
Irish people had been bringing far too much on holiday, and the aim was to keep the proportion of people travelling without checked-in baggage up at 70pc, even during summer, Mr McNamara claimed.
"People can leave their hairdryer at home and all the other bits and pieces they don't need to bring.
"They can leave out the shower gel and buy it when they're out there," he said.
Reducing the amount of checked-in baggage resulted in lower fuel costs and handling fees which allowed Ryanair to cut fares to places like the Canary Islands, he added.