'Suck it up and pay for a damn seat!' Ryanair seating policy continues to anger passengers
Ryanair is facing yet more claims by customers that it is deliberately splitting up passengers who refuse to pay for reserved seats.
Under its current seating policy, the airline randomly allocates seats unless passengers pay from €2 to €11 to reserve them.
Hundreds of passengers have reacted to our recent story and Facebook post on the issue, however, with many claiming to have been split from travel companions and family members after choosing not to pay for seat selection.
This, they say, despite free seats being available beside each other.
"Two weeks ago we were travelling to UK for my aunt's funeral and we were all split up," wrote Anna Roche, who said she was travelling with a group, on Facebook.
"Plenty of seats together when booking and checking in but they wanted to be paid!! We ended up all in middle seats all over the plane. My mam and others wouldn't be frequent flyers and had to sit completely alone. It's a disgrace!!!"
"It cost me €18 to get the vacant seat beside my husband this week," said another poster, Noleen Leahy. "On both flights we were seated 11 rows apart."
"It blatantly happened to me and my partner recently when travelling with our baby for the first time," wrote Tracey Kenny on Facebook.
"I checked in the morning it opened up for check-in online! There was definitely two seats together at that stage."
As well as our readers, droves of angry customers have contacted The Irish Times, Telegraph and other media outlets to vent their frustration in recent weeks.
Many have also shared their experiences on social media, with some posting screenshots of their seat allocations.
For its part, Ryanair says there has been no change in its seating policy since the introduction of allocated seating in 2014. "Customers who do not wish to purchase a seat are randomly allocated a seat, free of charge."
"Given that we have a 95pc load factor and are carrying more customers – our May traffic alone rose by 11pc to 11.8m customers, for example – there are now less seats to allocate randomly."
Customers can pay from €2 to €11 to reserve seats up to 60 days ahead of flying, it points out, advising customers who wish to sit together to do just that.
"Adults travelling with children are required to purchase one allocated seat (priced at just €4) and up to four children on the same booking will be given free allocated seats," it adds.
A small number of our commenters came to the airline's defense.
"You know how these airlines work, so why complain about it constantly?" asked Francesca Curran on our Facebook page.
"Never happened to me," posted Marek Maslowiec. "If you check-in in advance, their system automatically allocates two seats together if booked in the same reservation and they're available. Stop spreading panic."
Several readers contrasted their experience with Aer Lingus, which says it gives passengers "the opportunity to choose a seat at every availability".
It offers paid seat selection, but guests can also choose standard seats for free from 30 hours before the flight time when they check-in online or via its app.
"For those who do not select their seat in advance, we attempt where possible to seat small groups together who share the same booking," it says.
"Ryanair make as much money as possible in any way possible," another commenter, Nicola Monaghan, wrote on Facebook. "But we all know that, so suck it up and pay for a damn seat if it bothers you so much - or else fly with someone else!"