Spain confronts Ryanair over ‘illegal’ hand luggage charges

Spain’s consumer protection body has filed a complaint against Ryanair, considering the airline’s decision to charge passengers for hand luggage a breach of air transport laws that’s “seriously harmful to consumers”.

Spain confronts Ryanair over 'illegal' hand luggage charges
Photos: AFP

If you’re a regular Ryanair flier you’ve probably heard by now that the low-cost airline will no longer let its passengers carry a small suitcase with them on planes free of cost. 

The new regulation – announced on August 23 – means that from November 2018 anyone with a case of up to 10kg in weight is subject to paying between €8 to €10 to take it with them in the cabin.

Spain’s Facua-Consumers in Action group has filed a complaint against Ryanair through the country’s State Aviation Safety Agency (AESA).

The consumer protection body argues that the Irish airline’s decision causes “serious harm to consumers, violates their rights and breaches the basic conditions of the air transport contract.”

Facua reiterates that according to Spain’s Air Navigation Law, the carrier is obliged to transport for free in the cabin the hand luggage, objects and packages that the traveller carries with them, except for those that can’t be carried for safety reasons relating to size and weight.

“It’s a strategy by Ryanair to try to make up for the expenses they incurred through passenger compensation claims following all their recent flights cancellations,” Facua wrote.

In addition, the government-funded group says that the General Law for the Protection of Consumers and Users includes a section on unfair terms that haven’t been individually negotiated and any practices that are detrimental to the public and haven’t been approved.

Spain’s Department of Public Works is also at loggerheads with Ryanair over its new hand luggage charges and has called a meeting with representatives of the low-cost airline for the start of September to remind them of their legal obligations.

But Ryanair has reacted to the legal callout from Spain by writing “these claims are clearly false. No airline allows all passengers to bring all their bags on the aircraft.”

The Dublin-based airline overhauled its baggage policy last January but claimed the scheme allowing people to hand in their smaller cases for loading in the hold (free of charge) at the boarding gate was still causing delays. The new baggage charges will address this issue, Ryanair claims.

News of Ryanair’s new hand luggage terms has been met by resentment across Europe, with many reports suggesting the bold move is illegal and could end up being detrimental for their business

From November, only a limited number of priority customers will be allowed to bring two free carry-on bags onto flights, the service costing £6 or €6 per flight.

All other passengers will still be allowed to carry on one small bag free of charge, but it has to fit under the seat in front.


Ryanair’s cabin bag fee policy ruled ‘abusive’ by Spanish court

A Spanish court has ordered Ryanair to refund a customer who was charged for taking a carry-on bag without a special ticket, and told the airline to remove the clause from its terms and conditions.

Ryanair's cabin bag fee policy ruled 'abusive' by Spanish court
Photo: AFP

In a ruling issued last month but only published Wednesday, the Commercial Court said the budget carrier must repay the 20-euro ($22) fee plus interest it had imposed on a female passenger flying from Madrid to Brussels for taking a small suitcase of up to 10 kilos (22 lbs).

Ryanair only allows small bags into the cabin if they can be stowed under the seat in front, but larger bags of up to 10 kilos require a luggage fee, or a fee-paying priority boarding pass.

In its ruling, which cannot be appealed, the court described the airline's cabin baggage policy as “abusive” in respect to the customer's legal rights under Spanish law.

It declared Ryanair's cabin baggage policy to be null and void and ordered the airline “to remove it” from its terms and conditions.   

But the Dublin-based airline said in a statement that the ruling “will not affect Ryanair's baggage policy.”

Ryanair added that the Spanish court had “misinterpreted the airlines' commercial freedom to determine the size of their cabin baggage.”

In February, Italy's antitrust authority fined Ryanair three million euros and Hungary's Wizzair one million euros over their cabin baggage policy on grounds it was tantamount to raising ticket prices in a “non-transparent”

But last month, an Italian court cancelled the fines following an appeal by the two airlines.

READ MORE: Your rights as a passenger if your Ryanair flight is cancelled