Ryanair and Wizz Air fined in Italy for their hand baggage policy

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The Italian Competition Authority (Italian: Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del MercatoAGCM) has concluded two investigations against low-cost airlines Ryanair and Wizz Air which modified the rules regarding the transport of large hand luggage (trolley). The AGCM considers as an unfair and deceptive commercial practice the fact that the trolley is no longer included in the basic ticket price.

From 1 November, the AGCM carried out investigations and determined that the two airlines allow passengers to carry only one small bag to be placed under the seat in order to leave the overhead bins available for passengers who paid extra for priority boarding.

During the investigation, the AGCM learnt that nearly all passengers are used to travel with a piece of larger hand luggage or a trolley.

As this larger hand luggage is an essential element of air transport service, its transport must be permitted without any additional costs. In fact, on the basis of the European legislation on air transport, the foreseeable and unavoidable supplements must be included in the price of the basic service presented from the first contact and, therefore, cannot be subject to the payment of further amounts later in the booking process.

Therefore, by asking a variable surcharge of 5 to 25 euros for large hand baggage (depending on the purchase period: at the time of booking, at the check-in or at the gate), the two companies increased the cost of the ticket in a non-transparent manner, separating from the basic price an essential, predictable and unavoidable service for almost all passengers.

Hence the deception for consumers, as the price to be paid at the end of the booking process will almost always be higher than the price presented at the beginning of the process. This also makes it difficult to compare costs with other carriers whose price includes hand baggage.

A fine of €3 million and €1 million, respectively, was imposed on Ryanair and Wizz Air. The companies must notify the Authority within 60 days of the measures taken to comply with the decision.

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