Wednesday 15 August 2018

Ryanair Q&A: What does the new cabin bag policy mean for me?

Travel Tips & Advice

Ryanair Photo: Getty
Ryanair Photo: Getty
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Ryanair has announced a new cabin baggage policy, effective from January 15, 2018. Travel Editor Pól Ó Conghaile answers your queries.

What is Ryanair’s new baggage policy?

From January 15, Ryanair will only allow passengers who purchase Priority Boarding to take two free cabin bags onboard its aircraft.

Passengers who do not pay the €5 priority fee must check the larger of their two cabin bags (10kg, 55cm x 40cm x 20cm) into the hold at the boarding gate.

They can still take the smaller permitted item, such as a handbag or laptop (up to 5kg; 35cm x 20cm x 20cm) on board the plane, however.

Read more on the new policy here.

How much will it cost to check my cabin bag at the gate?

10kg bags will be checked into the hold for free.

What other changes has it announced?

From November 1, Ryanair will also cut the cost of a checked bag from €35 to €25 and increase the standard checked bag size from 15kg to 20kg.

A €10 supplement will be levied on these bags at Easter, Christmas and on longer routes during the peak summer months, however.

Why is the airline doing this?

Ryanair has reached a tipping point. When it first introduced its two-bag policy three years ago, planes were operating with an average load factor of 82pc.

Now, in peak months, planes are up to 97pc full.

"A lot more people are travelling, and we like that," says Chief Marketing Officer, Kenny Jacobs. "But they're bringing too much luggage."

"For the past six months, we've been tagging over 50 bags per plane at Dublin Airport."

Can I still take two pieces of cabin baggage on board?

Yes, if you pay €5 for Priority Boarding; otherwise your bigger (10kg) cabin bag must be placed in the hold (free of charge) at the airport gate.

How will this change be implemented?

Passengers will receive new, colour-coded boarding passes when they check in. These will direct them to either the Priority/2-bag or the 'Non-priority'/1-bag queue.

How will this reduce boarding delays?

"There's no debate about it now," Jacobs says simply.

In recent months, airline staff and fellow passengers have had their patience severely tested by customers flouting the rules with oversized second bags.

There are often delays at the gate and onboard planes, as extra cases are weighed, argued over, and removed to the hold.

"This is just taking away any grey area," Jacobs explains. "There's no real discussion now - [for Non-priority customers], the bigger bag has to go in the hold."

How much is Priority Boarding and can I add it to bookings?

€5 at the time of the flight booking. It can be added after booking (for €6) up to 30 minutes before the scheduled flight departure time, via the Ryanair app.

Will customers be able to check 10kg cabin bags at the check-in desk?

No, checked bags can be left off at the bag drop facilities, but all cabin bags must be brought to the boarding gate.

Does this apply to all bookings?

The new baggage policy will start on January 15, and will apply to all bookings made before and after that date, and flights from that date onwards.

What happens my checked cabin bag at the other end?

It will appear on the baggage carousel in arrivals along with the other checked luggage. Some passengers have expressed frustration that this removes a key convenience of flying with hand luggage only (unless you fork out €5, of course).

However, Jacobs believes delays won't be an issue for non-priority customers checking their 10kg cabin bags at the boarding gate.

"90pc of time the bag will be at the carousel before you will," he says.

What about customers with infants?

A small (5kg) baby bag may be carried by customers with infants.

What about duty-free purchases?

Non-priority customers can still bring Duty-Free purchases made airside (i.e. after security checks) on board, in addition to their smaller cabin bag.

What about customers with waivers for medical items?

You can still take these on board at no extra fee, subject to contacting Ryanair's special assistance line in advance and complying with any requirements.

What if I have valuable or fragile items in my 10kg cabin bag?

Readers have expressed concern about placing jewellery or valuables such as cameras, devices or company equipment into aircraft holds.

If you want to keep these in a larger bag, you must now pay €5 for Priority Boarding. Otherwise, they need to go in the hold or fit into the smaller, carry-on allowance.

Is this just a push to get me to buy Priority Boarding?

If everyone buys Priority Boarding, what's the point in having it?

Our readers have been quick to point this out. However, Ryanair doesn't believe the volume of new Priority customers will be enough to impact the benefits.

"It's not about making more money," Jacobs says.

"There will be an increase in Priority Boarding customers, but it won't be drastic. It won't increase by that kind of magnitude any time soon."

"There will still be less people in the Priority/2-bag queue."

What happens if I refuse to pay the €5?

From January 15, any "non-priority" customers that refuse to put their bigger cabin bags in the hold "will not be allowed to travel (without refunds)", Ryanair states.

The airline's T&Cs clearly state that customers who purchase a ticket sign up to its conditions of carriage. Ryanair has the right to refuse travel.

"I don't think it's going to be that big an issue," Jacobs says.

This isn't fair. I play by the rules, and now I'm paying for it.

"There will be an element of that," Jacobs says. "If you have been paying by rules, you may feel now that you are paying the price for others."

However, the airline can only fit 90 cabin bags on board each plane.

"We've flagged this over a year, and policed it a bit more, but we haven't seen a significant enough change... on balance I think this is fair and it comes down to customer choice."

"Plus, it will still be much cheaper to travel with Ryanair than anybody else. Fares are still coming down, and will continue to come down."

What is Independent.ie Travel's take?

Ryanair really, really wants to stop baggage delays and debates at the gate.

Lowering its check-in bag fees will cost the airline some €50 million in the short term, but it is taking the hit to tweak a cabin bag system that is clearly unworkable given current passenger volumes.

However, charging for cabin bags - even if the policy is packaged as a Priority Boarding fee - could well be the thin end of a wedge. No Irish airline has charged for hand baggage before now, and this first step could easily be pitched as a precedent for further cabin baggage price hikes in the future.

Ryanair is a commercial airline, after all. Not a public service.

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