Back to legality. Ryanair admitted it was crossing a red line when it was asking customers to pay for a 10kg checked bag even when they booked a flight before this rule was introduced.
This positive outcome probably results from discussions between Ryanair and Belgian Minister for Consumer Protection Kris Peeters. See hereunder the difference of tone between two Ryanair press releases issued at a 24hr interval, with our comment under each of them:
RYANAIR TO MEET WITH MINISTER PEETERS’ OFFICIALS TO EXPLAIN HOW NEW BAG POLICY BENEFITS CONSUMERS FROM 1 NOV NEXT
Ryanair in a statement today (5 Sep) confirmed it has sought a meeting with Minister Peeters’ officials in order to explain how Ryanair’s new lower cost baggage rules, from 1 November, comply fully with both Belgian and EU laws.
These changes, which have been introduced in order to eliminate flight delays (as a result of excess gate bags) involve a new cheaper check bag fee (€8 for a 10kg bag) and up to half of Ryanair customers who travel on Priority Boarding will see no change, and will continue to bring two free carry-on bags onboard.
Since Ryanair’s aircraft cannot accommodate two carry-on bags per customers, Ryanair’s new bag rules from 1 September are cheaper, more sensible safety measures, which will eliminate flight delays.
These changes have not been introduced unilaterally, but rather by agreement with customers, all of whom (with bookings prior to 1 September) have been notified in writing of these changes and have been offered the option of a full refund and flight cancellation if they do not agree with them.
Already, since 1 September, Ryanair has seen more than half of customers who book a check bag, switching from the current €25 (20kg) bag to the new cheaper €8 (10kg) bag.
Our comment: Those customers should not have been offered the choice between paying a surcharge for their 10kg checked bag of cancelling their flight. This is a breach of their contract with Ryanair. They should legally have been able to fly without paying a surcharge for their checked bag. But then Ryanair realised it was acting illegally with regard to Belgian law, and 24 hours later they issued the following statement:
RYANAIR GIVES FREE 10KG CHECK BAG TO ALL 2M NON-PRIORITY CUSTOMERS WHO BOOKED ON/BEFORE 31 AUGUST TO FLY AFTER 1 NOVEMBER
Ryanair today (6 Sept) confirmed it will give a free 10kg check bag to all 2m non-priority customers who booked before 31 Aug, to travel after 1 November, the date when Ryanair introduces its new cheaper 10kg check bag service, and eliminates all free gate bags and related flight delays. All these 2m non-priority customers have been advised by email today that a free 10kg checked bag has been added to their booking.
In addition, there are approx. 50,000 passengers who booked on/before 31 Aug but bought priority boarding (as a separate service) after 1st Sept since this new policy was introduced on 31 Aug. All these passengers have had the €8 cost of their priority boarding refunded but Ryanair will still allow them to travel with priority boarding free of charge.
These pre-Christmas gifts from Ryanair means that all non-priority passengers who made a booking prior to 31 Aug will not be penalised in anyway by the introduction of Ryanair’s lower cost €8 check bag service from 1 Nov as they will be now able to the check-in their free 10kg bag, at the airport, on the day of travel.
Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs said:
“All passengers who had booked on/before 31 August will now face no extra cost or inconvenience, as they have today received a free 10kg check bag, from Ryanair, added to their booking. We’re also looking forward to welcoming some 50,000 passengers on-board after 1 November, (who made their booking before 31 August) but who bought Priority Boarding over the last two weeks, who will now receive this service free of charge.
All passengers booking our lowest fares after 31 August have chosen our €6 priority boarding fee (which allows them to bring 2 free carry on bags) or have chosen our €8 (10kg) check bag service, or have chosen to pay no optional extra but will travel with our generous small carry on bag allowance – which has been increased by 40% – from 1 November.
As always Ryanair continues to lower the cost of travel, while our new bag policy from 1 Nov means we can eliminate all free gate bags and related flight delays.”
Comment: It is nice to see that those passengers don’t need to cancel their flight or pay a surcharge; It is even better to see that those passengers who already paid the surcharge will be reimbursed. The text of law prevails! However, Ryanair should not present this as a Christmas gift: it’s only a right.
But why is it that only Belgian authorities reacted against such an illegal action of Ryanair?