Let’s fight Ryanair’s nastiness with a campaign of obstruction!

21 September, 2011

I previously wrote about the various annoyances inflicted on passengers by Ryanair (see here and here).  The main one that bugs me is the failure to have either allocated seat numbers or, at the very least, to board passengers according to a ticket number issued as they arrive at the gate.  If my local butcher can do this, why can’t Ryanair? The cattle-like queuing at every Ryanair departure counter from about 30 minutes before boarding actually starts is a complete pain .

But now I am almost equally annoyed by the nonsense they go on with as regards cabin baggage.  Firstly, they try to catch you out by having a smaller than expected limit on cabin bag dimensions.  The International Air Transport Association (IATA) standard hand baggage allowance is 56cm x 45cm x 25cm, but Ryanair allows just 55cm x 40cm x 20cm. This means that the bag you have used without a problem on Aer Lingus, easyJet or British Airways may not be allowed on a Ryanair flight.  And if you fall victim to this trick, they will charge you dearly for putting the bag in the hold.  Ryanair are practically the only airline not to follow IATA guidance on this.

Then there is their insistence on passengers putting absolutely everything in the single piece of hand baggage before you board: your laptop,  handbag, paperback book, duty free, camera etc all must be squashed into the bag.  Most airlines are not so demanding; Aer Lingus, for instance, says that “additional small items (camera, personal stereo, overcoat, handbag or laptop) are allowed”.  And the net result of Ryanair’s policy is that boarding is slowed down while passengers, having selected their seat,  extract from their cases the items they will need on the flight – books, iPads, magazines, personal stereos etc.

So at first I couldn’t understand Ryanair’s logic for the strict enforcement of this rule.  But light dawned on me recently, when it became apparent that the rule does not seem to apply at certain airports, and in fact “duty-free” shops at these airports advertise that a duty-free bag is allowed on all flights (including Ryanair’s it would seem) , in addition to the normal cabin bag.    Not surprising that they would make a point of this, as people are much less likely to buy stuff at airports if they are forced to squeeze them into an already full cabin bag.

So here is what I believe is happening.  Ryanair negotiates individually with airports for handling charges.  Airports kick up about Ryanair’s cabin baggage policy as it deters passengers from patronising the airport’s retail tenants, who are thus less able to pay the exorbitant rents to the airport.  Ryanair says: charge us less for handling and we will allow passengers to bring purchases on board separately.  Result: more money for Ryanair, higher rents for the airport, higher prices at the airport shops.

I have no documentary proof of this scam, but there is plenty of circumstantial evidence.

It’s time to fight back!  Here is what all passengers should do: after being forced to put everything into the single piece of cabin baggage, make sure to take as long as possible extracting what you need when you arrive at the seat.  Don’t be afraid to block the aisle in so doing.  There really is no rush.  After all, if you hadn’t been the victim of Ryanair’s arbitrary and oppressive cabin baggage policy, you wouldn’t have to  cause a delay at all.  So take your time.  What are they going to do, throw you off for being a little bit slow and bumbling when you get to your seat?  Hardly.

If sufficient people were to fight back in this manner, Ryanair would find their turn-around time stretching out and causing them flight delays.  A hit to their bottom line, in other words.  The only thing that will get their attention.

So come on Ryanair passengers, stop being sheep, and give them a taste of their own medicine!

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