What you need to know about Ryanair’s baggage policy

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

Ryanair announced a new baggage policy on Aug. 23, putting the airline the target of headlines, controversy, and public scorn. As of Nov. 1, 2018, all non-priority customers will be allowed to travel with just a single carry-on piece of luggage with dimensions not to exceed 40 x 20 x 25 cm, or roughly the equivalent of 16 x 8 x 10 inches. Measure it out for yourself. That’s pretty minuscule!

Customers who choose the six-euro “Priority” option at the time of booking can take the small carry-on mentioned above, along with one additional 10 kg “wheelie bag” carry-on. A third option is to fly non-priority and pay an eight-euro fee to check in a single 10 kg bag in addition to the aforementioned small carry-on. Confused? Who wouldn’t be?

Ryanair claims the changes will help travelers by reducing the overall number of bags being handled at the gate and ensure quicker aircraft turnarounds. What seems likely to happen is that more passengers will opt for the priority boarding option or pay the checked baggage fee.

Unsurprisingly, the announcement was quickly picked up by the press and countless articles followed. The usual online comments and vows to never fly with Ryanair again followed ensuite. While few take issue with fares that compare to the cost of a schnitzel, it’s those creeping add-on charges that seem to be sparking the ire. There are fees for the option of selecting your seat, or for the failure to check-in online or to print out your own boarding pass. There’s even a 25 euro “infant fee” to carry a baby on one’s lap.

How to keep that 12.99 euro flight from morphing into a spend-a-thon? There are ways. Granted, a parent traveling with children under the age of 12 has no choice but to book a seat to ensure free adjoining seats for his or her little ones. But if traveling with friends or family, must you pay for the privilege of sitting next to one another on a two-hour flight when an entire weekend of togetherness awaits? Stick your nose in a good book, or use the time to chat with your seatmates. Jackpot if you can find someone from the flight’s destination to recommend things to do locally.

Extra charges for food and drink purchased on board are easily avoided by loading up pockets with packaged snacks at home and re-filling empty water bottles at public taps once past security.

As a matter of principle, I’m determined not to fork out any money on extra baggage fees. (An exception to this rule would be when heading to a shopper’s paradise such as Morocco; in such a case I would purchase the option of an extra suitcase for the return flight only.) As many of my Ryanair trips aren’t more than extended weekend getaways, I consider it a matter of pride to travel light yet not look completely shabby in the process. If you’d care to learn my strategy, read on…

Let’s say my theoretical trip will take me to Lisbon, Portugal for four days over Thanksgiving. I find the secret to great packing starts with careful dressing. On the day of my departure, the vast majority of my wardrobe for the coming days will be on my person. As I board the plane, I will be wearing short and sturdy low-heeled boots, a pair of tights or leggings beneath a pair of jeans, a long tank top, long cardigan sweater, a shirt or blouse, mid-weight jacket and quilted vest, all in a neutral, monochromatic color scheme. Crammed into my small carry-on are three changes of socks and underwear, a skirt, three light blouses, a scarf or two, and perhaps a bathing suit. Into any remaining crannies and pockets go a few toiletries, phone charger, and that’s it! Wearing a different brightly colored top gives each day’s arrangement of layers a fresh look in those all-important photo ops. Should it prove too warm for traipsing around in boots, a pair of flip-flops purchased from the nearest euro shop will do the trick. Likewise can one pick up an umbrella, beach towel, shorts, t-shirt… useful items at the moment and  little mementos of the trip thereafter.

Everyone’s got their own mode of travel, and an extra pair of shoes and various beauty paraphernalia may be critical for some to feel at their very best. I applaud those who’ve mastered the art of impeccable grooming to levels I’ll never reach. And honestly, 12 euros seems a fair price to pay for that boost of confidence and sense of well-being achieved by having all at hand. You’ll shine on your dinner date, I’ll have a few extra coins rattling about in my pocket, and everyone’s happy. And isn’t that why we’re traveling in the first place?

How do you keep budget airline travel charges in check?  

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