Ryanair luggage policy deemed ‘abusive’ by courts – does this mean the end of excess fees?

Ryanair has been forced to reimburse a passenger for excess baggage fees after a Spanish court ruled the budget airline’s charges to be “abusive”. This is the second blow in recent months for the Irish carrier, which received an identical sentence last October.


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The airline was forced to return the £40 (€50) fee it charged a passenger, plus interest, when her hand luggage was deemed to be above the airline’s baggage limits.

The passenger had been travelling on a Liverpool to Alicante flight at the time.

Judge Luis Fortea Gorbe said he used article 97 of Spain’s Law of Air Navigation to make his decision.

The court ruling states: “The transport provider will be obliged to transport free of charge in the cabin, as hand luggage, the objects and bags travellers carry with them, including items acquired in airport shops.

“Those objects and bags can only be turned away for safety reasons, linked to the weight and size of the objects, in relation to the characteristics of the plane.”

The judge also pointed out a September 2014 decision ruling by the Court of Justice stating excess charges for hand luggage were not justified in cases where passengers had not paid a priority boarding tariff.

Ryanair fought against this case initially before finally being forced to return the passenger’s money.

The plaintiff, who was named by Costa Blanca newspaper Informacion as Matilde Flora, said: “Fifty euros is not a high sum of money but if we multiply that cost by all the passengers who pay it without having to do so, the amount would be extremely high.

“That’s why I hope this ruling helps other travellers who have experienced the same thing as well as consumer organisations.”

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The news also comes just five months after a similar ruling in Madrid last October.

A separate judge also deemed the fees to be “abusive”. However, the airline avoided having to change its hand luggage policy by arguing the incident was an “isolated case.”

Both events happened prior to Ryanair changing its hand luggage policy in 2018, which further reduced the amount passengers can take on board without having to pay a fee.

Last August Spanish consumer rights group FACUA claimed Ryanair may be breaking the law in response to the firm’s announcement of new rules.


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The change was introduced on November 1 and meant all passengers had to pay for any bag that would not fit under the seat in front.

Ryanair contested the claim the firm is breaking the law.

Ryanair said in a statement: “This ruling will not affect the validity of Ryanair’s baggage policy, it is an isolated case in Spain.

“Ryanair’s baggage policy is transparent and beneficial to consumers.

“Up until five years ago, Ryanair only allowed one carry-on bag – now up to 50% of customers will continue to bring two free carry-on bags as they travel on Priority Boarding.

“Non-priority customers can bring 1 free (small) carry-on bag, we have increased the size of this by over 40% from 35 x 20 x 20cm (14,000 cm³) to 40 x 20 x 25cm (20,000 cm³).”

As of November 2018, Ryanair passengers are allowed to bring one “small personal bag” on board which must fit under the seat in front of them.

Passengers who hope to bring an additional bag, or whose luggage is deemed “too big” at the gate, will face a £25 fee.

Travellers can opt to bring additional luggage – two items of hand luggage – but must pay.

A small item, able to fit under the seat in front, and a larger bag weighing up to 10kg, can be purchased with priority status starting at £6.

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