Ryanair confident that most flyers will pay €5 extra for carry-on bags
Ryanair expects more than half of passengers to pay an extra €5 to bring their bag into the cabin.
As it introduced new cabin baggage rules, which favour those passengers who pay an extra €5 for 'priority boarding', the airline revealed that it will sell the perk for a maximum of 110 seats out of the total of 189 available on its planes.
This means that the majority of passengers could end up paying for so-called 'priority' boarding.
When the latter was introduced in 2006 at a cost of €3, Ryanair claimed that it would result in a better service for those passengers who want to be among the first to board flights.
But with almost 60pc of passengers now able to claim 'priority' boarding, it is no longer guaranteed that you will be among the first passengers on a flight.
Dermott Jewell, spokesman for the Consumers' Association of Ireland, said Ryanair would have strategised on the policy change and would be confident of selling the 110 priority boarding tickets.
"I get the impression they've looked at these figures and are fairly confident in the take-up.
"The difficulty is that it's now taking away a low-cost element of enjoying the flight. If you want it to be a smooth journey and get on and off quickly, you now have to pay for that," he added.
Until now, all Ryanair passengers were allowed to bring two bags into the cabin - a wheelie bag and a smaller bag.
Under the new rules, 'non-priority customers' - those who haven't paid the €5 extra charge - will only be able to bring the smaller bag into the cabin and their bigger bag will be taken off them at the boarding gate and put into the hold.
The airline said passengers would not be charged for putting the bigger bag in the hold. However, many customers will be unhappy at having to wait at luggage carousels to retrieve their bags after landing.
Asked by the Irish Independent if Ryanair could guarantee that it will not start charging such passengers to put bag in the hold, the airline's spokesman said: "We have no plans to change this policy."
Other changes that came into force yesterday include a lowering of check-in bag fees, from €35 to €25, and a bigger check-in bag allowance, which has risen from 15kg to 20kg.
The spokesman said he expected the number of passengers paying for priority boarding to increase substantially in light of the policy change and that this had been reflected in bookings made since Ryanair first announced late last year that the change in baggage policy would be introduced.
"But it's about customer choice. Some customers will take priority boarding, some will not and some will check in a bag."
He added that restricting the number of bags being brought into the cabin would speed up boarding times and eliminate flight delays.
"Since we announced this new policy, we have had a positive reception from customers. This new policy is fair, will speed up boarding and will eliminate any risk of Ryanair flights being delayed because of too many bags being brought onboard."
However, Mr Jewell said whether consumers would choose to pay the extra charge would be based on their experience of how long they have to wait to get their bag at their destination. He predicted that it would be popular among business travellers, but not so when people were travelling on holiday in the summer.
He added: "They [Ryanair] seem to be structuring it for a particular time of year."