Ryanair passengers say they are being pressured to pay to get a boarding pass, the alternative being to arrive at the airport early and queue for a randomly allocated seat.
Previously, passengers would be told to check in online the day before travel, at which time they would be allocated a seat number and a boarding pass.
This could then either be printed at home or at the airport, or downloaded as a digital copy onto the Ryanair smartphone app.
This boarding pass lets passengers without luggage bypass the check-in queue on arrival at the airport.
However, on December 3, the Mail Online reported that passengers were being told to either book a seat or to queue at the airport to get their boarding pass.
This practice forces passengers to choose between paying up to €21 more for a reserved seat or to arrive earlier at the airport and join the check-in queue two hours before departure.
The change had not been announced by Ryanair, leaving many passengers confused and angry.
@Ryanair I just can't believe your new policy of not allowing passengers to create a boarding pass (mobile or print-out) unless they buy a seat, forcing them to join a check-in queue (30m or longer) to do so for no other reason for you to make a few quid. Scandalous. pic.twitter.com/48SMNrbMSV— Ell' To Pay (@Ell2Pay) December 2, 2023
Passengers are particularly upset by the misleading information, which can make it appear that they have to purchase a reserved seat to get a boarding pass - essentially adding a significant hidden fee to the ticket price.
Why is this happening?
Ryanair’s communication on the change has so far been slow - they have not mentioned it on their website yet.
However, reacting to angry passengers on X (formerly Twitter), their spokesperson said:
“Due to the popularity of reserved seats, Ryanair is keeping seats available until the end for those customers wishing to purchase. Some passengers will be assigned the last remaining seats at the airport for free.”
However, it appears that not all passengers with randomly allocated seats are being asked to queue. On Twitter, some have suggested this only applies to the last 20 randomly allocated seats. Ryanair has not confirmed this.
The Connexion has contacted Ryanair for more information on the practice.
Is this another hidden cost?
Passengers are regularly confronted by a host of hidden costs when booking tickets. Indeed, Ryanair made 44.7% of their 2022 revenue from add-ons on top of ticket prices, according to a study by IdeaWorks and CarTrawler.
Ryanair presents this new practice as a choice, rather than as an additional cost.
“All Ryanair passengers can pay for a reserved seat if they so wish or if passengers wish to avoid this seat fee, they can select a randomly allocated seat entirely free of charge,” they told BBC News.
The low-cost airline has yet to clarify this position, however, The Connexion understands that Ryanair passengers may still select randomly allocated seats when booking their tickets and face no extra costs, although a minority may be required to queue to get their boarding passes, which remain free of charge.