Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary was today accused of treating passengers with “arrogance and disdain” as it emerged that the airline’s new baggage rules could see holidaymakers hit with an extra £80 charge over the summer.
Finance Minister Sammy Wilson urged passengers to “take their custom elsewhere” after Ryanair announced they could be charged up to £80 for checking in luggage as part of its new rules.
The budget airline, which this week announced pre-tax profits of €341m (£289m) for the year to March, has hit passengers with a raft of extra charges that will dramatically push up the price of flights.
There are fears that families will be particularly hard hit with the stricter charges for luggage that can’t be carried on as hand baggage — with a possible eight bags costing £480 each way.
The charge for a first bag checked into the hold through Ryanair’s website is to increase from £15 to £20 per flight during July and August with a second bag costing £40 instead of £35.
However, anyone who is unable to check in online will be charged £40 for their first bag and a whopping £80 for the second when they arrive at the airport. Charges for checking in over the phone using a Ryanair call centre are equally steep — rising from £35 to £40 for a first bag and from £75 to £80 for a second.
The charges will not apply retrospectively.
It should also be noted that Ryanair also has a smaller weight limit than other airlines.
Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said the price increases illustrated Ryanair’s “contempt for its customers”.
“The first thing is that not everybody can check in online because not everybody will have the capability to do it,” he said.
“The second thing is that it is clear that they are not interested in taking families. They only want to be carrying single people and are only interested in a particular sector of the market — for example a businessman carrying a single bag.
“I would hope that the market would sort this out. If that’s the way Ryanair want to behave then people will simply go to other carriers.”
Mr Wilson said the price hikes also called into question how planning authorities should react to
Ryanair’s support for a runway extension at George Best Belfast City Airport.
“Why should the planning authorities facilitate an airline that is clearly aiming to exclude a large section of the market?” he said.
“Ultimately it shows the kind of arrogance that Michael O’Leary treats his passengers and he does treat them with disdain. I think the only way to sort a boy like that out is to take our custom elsewhere.”
A Ryanair spokesman claimed the charges were “all completely avoidable”. He said: “Effectively nobody ever waits until they get to the airport to check in. The charges are to discourage people from using airport check-in facilities which are obviously very expensive for us.”
The spokesman said plans to charge customers for using toilets on board the aircraft were about “three or four years away if at all”.