Ryanair accused of 'fleecing' passengers with charges hike
RYANAIR is raising its checked-in baggage charges by 25pc and increasing its penalty for reissuing boarding cards by 50pc to €60.
The baggage rises, which will apply at "peak periods", were last night described as "punitive" by the Consumers' Association of Ireland.
The peak-time baggage charge will increase from €20 to €25 per item and will apply to all online bookings made from December 15.
The fee for bags checked in at airports or via call centres will increase from €35 to at least €60 per bag. October to May low-season online checked-in baggage fees will remain unchanged at €15 per 15kg bag.
The boarding-card reissue penalty will rise from €40 to €60 from January 15 and is aimed at less than 10 passengers per day who fail to bring their own boarding card with them to the airport, the company said.
But Dermott Jewell, chief executive of the Consumers' Association of Ireland, said: "In relation to the check-in charge, it's absolutely punitive."
He accused Ryanair of being "extraordinarily mean-spirited" over the baggage charge for those travelling over the festive season.
"These are the times when it is essential that people have baggage because they have at least a change of clothes, they likely have presents that they are carrying and I honestly believe that it is Ryanair's intention to fleece customers," he said.
The airline, whose chief executive is Michael O'Leary, said that the move was to encourage passengers to travel lighter during peak periods including June, July, August, September and Christmas.
"Ryanair continues to incentivise passengers to travel light, especially during peak periods, by raising our online checked-in baggage fees," said spokesman Stephen McNamara.
"Over 70pc of Ryanair passengers will be unaffected by these changes as they already travel with no checked-in bags and instead use Ryanair's free of charge 10kg carry-on allowance," he added.
Ryanair said customers could avoid these charges by travelling with carry-on luggage and printing their own boarding cards online.
However, Mr Jewell said: "It's important that consumers look beyond the initial flagged 'lowcost' flight and see what the other airlines are offering.
"I think if the other airlines hold fast and don't jump on this bandwagon as Ryanair are doing, they stand a chance of being very competitive.
"Strangely enough, this could arguably be a good move from Ryanair because it might take people's focus off that company and look elsewhere," Mr Jewell added.
Last year, Ryanair raised eyebrows when it announced plans to charge passengers €1 for the use of toilets on trips of one hour or less.
It also hit the headlines earlier this year with proposals to remove two or three toilets from its aircraft and replace them with up to six extra seats.