Little Hotels Little Hotels Travel Blog

Ryanair and Luggage Fees

RyanairWe’ve just seen that Ryanair (the airline everyone loves to hate) are thinking of tightening up their rules on cabin baggage because they think some customers are taking advantage of their generous nature. Is that really true? How could it be so? This is how we see it:

Ryanair is probably the most determined airline when it comes to keeping their headline ticket prices low. Then they try to recoup some money from their customers by charging extra for just about everything else, short of the air that you breathe. And this seems to be a successful policy as the airline made £396m profit in the last quarter.

Having sold you a cheap ticket, the main source of extra revenue is the charges for hold luggage. It can be more expensive to get your luggage to Spain than to get there yourself, as Ryanair would charge you £75 to transport a 20kg bag in the hold on return flights to Spain. Unsurprisingly, customer have become more and more imaginative in finding ways to avoid this extra cost.

The key to avoiding luggage fees is to take advantage of the fairly generous cabin baggage allowance of 10kg plus a second small bag. We’re not sure the 10kg limit is always enforced and some people seem to make use of this possible loophole. We’ve also seen some pretty large “small bags” and also seen some people more than amply dressed for a flight to a warm country. It seems to us, this is a problem of Ryanair’s own making, due to their pricing policy. After all, why wouldn’t customers work the system to minimise their costs?

What has really upset Ryanair now though is that customers with small children are also using the child’s cabin baggage limit to full. Ryanair’s chief financial officer, Neil Sorahan has claimed “I’ve seen two-year-olds wheeling a bag up to the plane as people try to take advantage.” If the parents have paid for the child’s ticket, we see no problem with getting the best value possible from that ticket. However we are sympathetic to the idea that this whole business of luggage and fees is a mess that needs sorting out. There is far more luggage going into the cabin than the overhead lockers can accommodate. On a recent flight we took ourselves (not Ryanair), the airline had realised there was too much cabin baggage and was taking bags from people at the aircraft steps and placing them in the hold.

Luggage baggageSo what is the solution? All budget airlines need to get more realistic in the ticket price structure. Especially in the holiday market, it’s obvious that people need to take a significant amount of luggage. That should be factored into the ticket price and then each traveller could have a sensible (say 20kg) hold baggage allowance. This would be fairer to everyone, and would avoid the crazy scrum in the aisle as everyone tries to heave huge bags and cases up into the overhead lockers.

We’ve also heard (although we don’t know whether it’s true or not) that some budget airlines track your movements on their website and increase the price if you go back to the same flight a second time. This instils a sense of urgency in the customer and encourages them to book quickly. If this seems plausible to you, there are a couple of things you could try to avoid being caught:
1. Before you go into the airline’s website a second time, clear all cookies in your browser that have been set by that airline. It’s quite easy, but the exact process does differ for each browser.
2. Use the Private or Incognito setting on your browser (different browsers use different terms for the same thing) to avoid being tracked.

Finally, there’s one further way that might save a few pounds on your flights: fly out on one airline and back on another. You might also find you get more convenient flight times that way. Obviously booking on the airline’s own websites won’t give you that option, but the booking form on Little Hotels’ Flights Page will offer this possibility if it’s available.