Budget carrier Ryanair has raised another ruckus with new cabin bag policies aimed at minimising delays and preventing time-consuming overhead bin battles.
The low-cost airline had relaxed its carry-on allowance to permit customers to bring two bags into the cabin – a wheelie bag and a smaller bag such as laptop case — for free.
But officials said the number of people taking advantage of the policy combined with limited overhead bin space and load factors of 97 per cent in August saw a slew of boarding and flight delays.
In a move designed to speed up boarding, customers who have paid an extra €/£5 ($US5.98 to $US6.59) for priority boarding priority will be among the few allowed to bring two carry-on bags on to an aircraft from November 1.
They will be joined by those travelling on Plus, Flexi Plus and Family Plus tickets,
Other travellers will only be permitted to bring a smaller bag as carry on and their wheelie bags will have to travel in the hold.
Ryanair has softened the blow by not charging for the wheelie bag service, which works well on smaller turboprop aircraft in other parts of the world.
It has also increased its checked bag allowance from 15kg to 20kgs and dropped the fee for the heavier bag from €/£35 to €/£25 ($US29.90 to $US32.94).
“These bag policy changes will cost Ryanair over €50m per annum in reduced checked bag fees,’’ Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said.
“However, we believe offering bigger bags at reduced fees will encourage more customers to consider checking-in a bag, which will reduce the high volume of customers we have with two carry-on bags at the boarding gates, which is causing flight delays due to large numbers of gate bag and cabin bag offloads.”
The reaction to the policy has been mixed, with some passengers denouncing the move as defacto cabin bag charge and accusing the airline of greed.
Others, however, have welcomed a policy which would see an end to the bin bunfight.
AER LINGUS OFFERS BASIC ECONOMY
Meawhile, another Irish carrier, Aer Lingus, has become the latest legacy carrier to adopt so-called basic economy fares and will apply them to its trans-Atlantic services.
As competition heats up at the Atlantic from LCCs such as Norwegian and Air France spinoff Joon, legacy airlines like Aer Lingus and British Airways are scrambling to adapt.
BA is adding 52 seats to Boeing 777-200s flying across the Atlantic from next May in a bid to improve “capital efficiency’’ and keep seats costs comparable with competitors.
Aer Lingus is taking a route similar to that taken by some US carriers by introducing a Saver economy fare.
The Saver, touted as “the perfect option for those looking to travel light on direct flights between Ireland and North America”, isn’t completely bare bones.
It includes 10kg (22lb) cabin baggage, in-flight entertainment and an on-board meal. Passengers pay for extras such as a checked bag, seat selection, a blanket or headphones.
The airline’s Smart fare option includes all these things and is available to passengers who want to travel in the style to which they’ve become accustomed.