Budget Irish airline Ryanair has been taken to task over its new cabin baggage policy. A German consumer group will ask the government to intervene over what it called confusing information causing price increases.
Germany's Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv) has accused Ryanair of providing misleading information and insufficient pricing information about its new cabin bag policy, which it brought into effect in November.
"All passengers are entitled to bring one small personal bag on board which must fit under the seat in front of you (40cm x 20cm x 25cm). Examples include, handbag, laptop bag and small backpack," the Ryanair website indicates for nonpriority passengers.
The weight of the bag is not indicated.
Only passengers who have bought "Priority & 2 Cabin Bags" or Plus/Flexi/Family tickets can bring an additional bag on board. It must fit into the baggage sizer "not exceeding 10kg and dimensions 55cm x 40cm x 20cm." A charge of €6 ($6.8) is payable at time of booking, or €8 if it is added after booking for the priority booking. The two bags are then listed as "free."
For nonpriority passengers, there is no charge in the top line but €8 is marked for the 10kg bag at time of booking or €10 if added after booking.
Challenging for consumers
The vzbv is a nongovernmental organization acting as an umbrella for 41 German consumer associations. It intends to appeal to the government over the new policy, which it considers an indirect increase in the price of a ticket: "The new regulation is completely opaque and unexpected," said Kerstin Hoppe, a legal expert at the vzbv. "The restriction on hand luggage leads to an indirect increase in the price of the ticket."
Rules on hand luggage at Ryanair are among the strictest in the world. They have been gradually tightened as first roller cases were put in the hold, albeit at no extra charge, and then they were followed out of the cabin by larger backpacks and bags.
The vzbv says Ryanair fails to provide consistent information about the new baggage rules during the booking process and on the website. The bag is variously described as "a small piece of luggage," or "a small piece of luggage 40cmx20cmx25cm" or "a small bag that fits under the seat in front of you."
"It is therefore completely unclear what kind of luggage can be taken on board for free" vzbv said in its statement. "Also any statement about the weight of the permitted luggage is missing."
Call for clarity
However, Ryanair's communications chief rejected the accusations: "These claims are not accurate," said Robin Kiely, who claimed all conditions, fees and additional services were shown transparently on the website.
"All Ryanair passengers can take a piece of hand luggage into the cabin, the size of which has been increased by 40 percent to 40cmx20cmx25cm," said Kiely. "No airline customer has the right to an unlimited number of carry-on items — for safety reasons. Most short-haul aircraft have no room for two pieces of hand luggage per passenger."
Marion Jungbluth, head of the Mobility and Travel team at vzbv, said the federal government should "quickly check which bag can be carried as an essential part of a flight without additional costs, and prevent the anti-consumer policy at Ryanair."
A range of airlines have started to charge for additional services on flights. Ryanair passengers have also complained they were charged a €55 fee for checking in at the airport when they said the website for online check-in was down.