Further passing on the costs of service directly to the consumer, RyanAir recently altered their check-in model. Whereas online check-in was formerly linked to priority boarding and was a privilege to be purchased for 6 euros, they have turned the tables and made online check-in the free standard, with anyone needing counter service (namely to check in a bag) charged an additional 3 euros per flight. I was surprised this didn’t happen sooner.
The problem here is that online check-in is only available to certain groups: most significantly, only passengers with EU/EEA passports. American? Australian? Indian? Out of luck. You have to pay to check in. Even more abhorrent is that the BLIND must pay to check in. Are these forms of discrimination even legal? It seems to me one thing to charge people if they choose to check in at a counter or are checking a bag, but if other people willing to check in online don’t have a choice simply because the system isn’t set up to handle them (and for no good reason; other European airlines allow foreign passengers to check in online) . . . that is me paying a tax on YOUR stupidity, RyanAir.
I asked RyanAir counter staff on my last flight how this was possibly fair. One said in theory I could request a refund from the main office. I’m guessing once the money is in their hands I’m never going to see it again.
But be aware: this is a change they are taking a hard line on. RyanAir denied boarding to at least 9 fliers at Stansted Saturday morning when those passengers presented online boarding passes but did not have EU passports. RyanAir claimed their tickets had been falsified and were therefore canceled.
My only advice here for those in the excluded categories is to go for web check-in when you purchase your tickets BUT DO NOT USE IT TO CHECK IN FOR YOUR FLIGHT. Arrive with a bit of extra time and check in at the counter. Make them extract the money from you there, if they must. To tell you the truth, I’ve never had RyanAir charge me for last-minute services — like checking an unexpected or overweight bag. This option is legitimate, will not cost you more (than perhaps a bit of hassle at the airport, but it’s the principle) and may in fact save you the fee altogether.
I would love to hear comments or stories from anyone affected by this change. Thanks to SS for the tip.
Update 11/19/07: SS later spotted this on the RyanAir website:
Where a passenger is unable to avail of Online Check-in by reason only of not being the holder of either a valid passport or a National Identity Card, issued by the government of an EU/EEA country, any Airport Check-In fee paid will be refunded upon application.
I called RyanAir to clarify where one should apply to for refunds. That address would be:
Ryanair Refunds Dept
Ryanair Head Office
Co Dublin, IRELAND
You can also fax refund requests to Ireland +353 1 812 1230
You must include the following: Confirmation Number (e.g. ABC123), Full Flight Details – date/routes, Passenger Names
(Update 4/27/08: Student Scrooge writes that RyanAir further requested a copy of the non-EU passport’s front page.)
They will reply to the email address associated with your original itinerary. Refunds are made directly to the card used for booking.
The customer service agent I spoke to said the method I described above would also work. She recommended calling RyanAir before the flight to have them change the booking from online to airport (no cost) to avoid complications at the counter. You can reach RyanAir at the following numbers, though I recommend figuring out the cheapest way to call Ireland and ringing them at the “rest of the world” number to avoid high fees.
- Looking to beat RyanAir at its low-cost game? I outline my system for scoring the cheapest flights — and actually getting RyanAir to pay *me* to fly — in the post “Why I Love/Hate RyanAir.”
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