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Ryanair is Europe’s most popular airline, and despite some adverse reviews from some sectors (often having to do with grumpy air stewards, who in fact have our sympathy), it remains a very cost-effective flight service to many destinations, including many principal airports for holiday-makers in France: Marseille, Bergerac, Angoulême, Toulon, Nice. It has a very good punctuality record, and its basic fare structure for flights is pared to the bone. It is once again this year reducing its average fare from €40 to €32, saving around £530 million this year for its 67 million passengers, as claimed by an airline spokesman.
Where Ryanair makes up its revenue, and in the process profoundly irritates many customers and would-be customers, is in the add-on charges, which at first glance seem to be for everything imaginable, and often quite out of proportion to any possible actual cost to them. If you forget the boarding pass you printed out at home when you booked your flight online, for example, you can cough up £40 for the airline desk to print you a new one. Surely not. In the year to March 2009, 58.5 million Ryanair passengers paid out a staggering total of £2.9 billion pounds in extra fees, baggage charges, onboard refreshments, sports equipment and musical instrument carriage charges, among others: an average of an extra £50 per passenger, very often more than the flight itself (Independent, 5 September 2009).
As of 1 October 2009, the cost of checking a bag on Ryanair flights is increasing; at the same time the baggage allowance per person is doubling from one to two bags of 15 kg each. The price of checking the initial bag will increase from £20 to £30, if checked in at the airport; the cost of doing so online in advance goes up to £15 from £10. The airline’s website doesn’t mention the possibility of your forgetting your online baggage claim ticket; best not to forget it. The second bag, which you can take as of 1 October 2009, will cost £70 to check in at the airport, or £35 to check it in online in advance. Fees for transporting sports equipment and musical instruments are also rising, from £30 to £40 if booked online and to £50 if checked in at the airport. Skiers and double bassists everywhere will be considering their options.
These increases are obviously in part to offset the loss of revenue incurred by the fare reductions, but Ryanair takes pain to stress that they are mainly “part of the airline's programme to encourage passengers to travel with carry on luggage only”, and that “All passengers can avoid these optional checked in baggage fees by travelling with carry on baggage only.” This may be an attempt to avoid baggage handling problems at the smaller airports that are many of Ryanair’s ports of call. Ryanair’s spokesman: “Over 70% of Ryanair passengers will be totally unaffected by these changes as they already travel with just one carry-on bag, which is free of charge.”
The effect must be however to discourage people flying off on holiday for any length of time; you can’t kit out a two-week villa holiday in a carry-on bag. Business commuters will not feel the pinch, not that most of them would anyway.
From our April 2009 newsletter