Saturday, November 03, 2012

Ryanair in the news again

Pam and I have only flown twice with Ryanair and that was to Barcelona and back – a one hour flight each way and the only time we travelled with Easyjet was from Liverpool to Luton en route to London.

As readers of this blog will know, Pam and I travel to the UK roughly every three months for one reason or another. Our first choice is always to use followed by Monarch for our flights. We do check out costs with other carriers including Ryanair and Easyjet but are put off by, amongst other factors, their luggage policies. Even for just one week in the UK, 15kgs is an impossibly small amount for us to pack.

As I say, it isn’t just the luggage policies that put us off. In a recent study by the magazine Business Traveller, out of 32 different airlines, Ryanair was found to have the narrowest seats at just 16 inches.  Easyjet came 6th with 17.5 inches. but was placed 31st for legroom with just 29 inches. Ryanair came 24th in that class with 30 inches. Even just a two and a half hour flight to Manchester is uncomfortable when your knees are pushed into the seat in front and you are squashed each side by your fellow passengers.

Anyway back to the hand luggage issue. The problem is, because of the charges for hold luggage, an increasing number of passengers are travelling with just cabin baggage. The rules on Ryanair about this are strict; one piece with dimensions of 55cm by 40cm by 20cm or less and weighing up to 10kg and woe betide you if your bag is just half a cm over because they have a bin at the gate to check it. My Think Tank rolling camera case, which is made to airline cabin baggage standards, would be a tight squeeze in Ryanair’s bins. Knowing there is an issue, Ryanair offer to sell you cabin luggage which they say is guaranteed to meet their requirements –that is very kind of them.

You also fall foul with Ryanair if you try carrying any other items of hand luggage onto the plane as one passenger found out recently at Valencia airport. She was carrying two items that would not fit into her hand luggage (a scroll and a book) and so was escorted off the plane by the Guardia Civil. One passenger even made a video of the event and posted it on Facebook. Her fellow passengers offered to put the items in their hand luggage but Ryanair would have none of it.

Ryanair deny that she was removed for breach of their luggage rules, they claim she was disruptive and pushed past staff at the boarding gate without showing her identification. The other passengers would probably not agree with that version of what happened. 

Of course we all know the way low cost carriers work. They entice you with ludicrously cheap fares which miraculously double or treble by the time you get to the “pay now” button on the screen. It kind of harks back to the old days when you bought a car only to be asked, do you want a heater or a radio because they are extras.

Having fleeced you for the extra money, most are reasonably tolerant when it comes to your hand luggage but not it seems Ryanair. I understand that, when you have squashed as many seats as you can into the plane, there just isn’t the space in the overhead bins for every passenger to take on to much hand luggage. Maybe they should have thought of that when they started charging for hold luggage and squeezing in those extra seats. 

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