Saturday 29 April 2017

'If you abuse it, you lose it' - will Ryanair ban its free second bag?

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ROME, ITALY - FEBRUARY 7: Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary poses after a Ryanair press conference in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Stefano Montesi/Corbis via Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY - FEBRUARY 7: Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary poses after a Ryanair press conference in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Stefano Montesi/Corbis via Getty Images)
Frankfurt-Hahn Airport. Passengers board a Ryanair passenger plane. Photo by Ulrich Baumgarrten via Getty Images
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Have you played by the rules with Ryanair's second cabin bag? Or are you ruining the free ride for everybody else?

Threats to ban that free second cabin bag are growing.

They come as increasing numbers of passengers are abusing the policy, Robin Kiely, Ryanair's Head of Communications, told Independent.ie Travel.

"We're seeing rucksacks, people with two wheelie cases, and it's slowing down the boarding process in some cases. Cabin crew are also having to move bags around the aircraft so that everything fits in."

The free second cabin bag has been one of the most popular changes introduced under Ryanair's Always Getting Better programme, Kiely says, but it is getting to the point where the airline is looking at reviewing the policy.

"We don't want to [ban the bag]... but if you abuse it you lose it".

Ryanair aims to turn its planes around in 25 minutes, and each can fit around 90 cabin bags into the overhead bins, Kiely says.

As it stands, passengers are permitted to take one free cabin bag weighing up to 10kg and measuring a maximum of 55 x 40 x 20cm on board, along with a second "small" bag - such as a laptop or handbag - designed to fit under seats.

Frankfurt-Hahn Airport. Passengers board a Ryanair passenger plane. Photo by Ulrich Baumgarrten via Getty Images
Frankfurt-Hahn Airport. Passengers board a Ryanair passenger plane. Photo by Ulrich Baumgarrten via Getty Images

The second bag policy has been a victim of its own success in some regards, however, leading to delays as passengers play loose with the rules.

It's one of the reasons, along with adverse weather, Air Traffic Controller strikes and slot delays, that the airline's punctuality rates have fallen from 90pc to 88pc in recent months - although those figures are still industry-leading.

"We are looking at new initiatives to address this problem," Ryanair has said, "including a review of our service policies such as the two free carry-on bags which are the cause of increasing boarding gate delays."

In separate interviews recently, Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary has said "far too many passengers are turning up with half the contents of their homes", while the airline's Chief Financial Officer, Neil Sorohan, told The Independent this week that the airline was becoming "victims of our own niceness".

"People aren't playing by the rules," he said. "We're seeing very large bags coming onboard, which is leading to delays at the gate, and indeed on the aricraft."

Second bag policies vary from airline to airline, with Aer Lingus, Norwegian and Ryanair all currently permitting an extra personal bag for free.

WOW air, however, allows one small personal item up to 42 x 32 x 25cm which "must fit under the seat in front of you", but charges for regular carry-on bags - with online rates starting from €16.99 for short flights.

In a separate announcement, Ryanair this week launched a new European multi-trip annual travel insurance product for sale on its website.

Launched in partnership with Europ Assistance, it follows the addition of car hire, accommodation and package holiday services (since suspended) that the airline says will ultimately help it to become the “Amazon of travel”.

One day, Michael O'Leary has said, you could even fly for free.

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