19 Jan 2009：The low-cost airline Ryanair will receive £650 million in baggage charges and booking fees in 2009.
The charge for checking in a bag on a Ryanair flight is now six times higher than in 2006, it emerged this week.
The Dublin-based no-frills airline has increased its fees for putting a case in the hold to £30 for a return flight (this includes the airport check-in fee) – up from £5 three years ago. Last year the airline carried 58 million passengers. Assuming similar traffic this year, with around half its passengers still checking in at least one bag per flight, it stands to make at least £435 million in baggage fees. This is based on passengers taking the cheapest option (booking online and carrying only one bag). These charges rise to £60 for those who do not check in online or to £50 for two bags checked in.
Ryanair has also increased its fees for booking to £10 per person, per return flight – up from £3.50 in 2006 and £8 last year. The charges apply even if flights are bought in a single transaction, which leaves a family of four facing a £40 charge just for paying by card.
The only exception made is to those who pay by Visa Electron, for whom the airline is for a “limited special offer period” not applying a debit charge. A Ryanair spokesman said that 25 per cent of its bookings are made with Visa Electron cards. By this reckoning, from the 75 per cent of passengers who pay with other cards, the airline stands to receive around £217 million from card charges alone – bringing its total revenue from additional charges this year to well over £650 million.
Other no-frills airlines also charge for checking in bags, but not as much. Flybe charges £16 return for hold bags and imposes a fee of £4 for paying by credit card and £3 by debit card (per booking, not per passenger). EasyJet charges £12 for hold luggage, £6 for using credit cards and £1.95 for debit cards (per booking not passenger). British Airways charges a one-off fee of £4 for flights booked by credit card and nothing for payments made by debit card (Visa Debit/Delta, Switch/Maestro, Solo). A BA spokesman said this was because the cost of processing debit card payments was negligible. “We absorb the small charges into our ticket prices,” he said.
A spokesman for Ryanair said that even with these charges its low-fare guarantee ensures it is still cheaper than other airlines.
“We are confident that you will still travel cheaply on Ryanair,” he said, adding that the airline would not rule out further increases in its ancillary charges as it tries to encourage more people to take hand luggage only.
“Travelling with bags is a dinosaur,” he said. “We offer a generous limit of up to 10kg for hand luggage. If it is less expensive for the airport and airline without check-in or handling bags, it is fair that it is cheaper for passengers who travel this way.”
Other charges on Ryanair that have increased include those imposed for flying with sports equipment (doubled since 2006), carrying a baby (now £40 per return flight, up from £32 in 2006) and excess baggage fees (three times higher).
Simon Evans, of the airline watchdog, the Air Transport Users Council, said that although Ryanair is within its rights to add these charges, they are becoming increasingly disproportionate to the fare. “Passengers need to make careful choices and compare prices with airlines that do not add these charges,” he said.