For years, Ryanair has been synonymous with cheap prices and the ability to travel across Europe. Indeed, it was Ryanair that paved the way for low-budget airlines, like EasyJet, Wizz Air, Euro Wings and many others. The company was founded in 1985, ten whole years before EasyJet and has driven flight prices down for consumers ever since.
Environmentalists have always been alarmed by this development, due to the sudden increase in flights across the continent, especially short-distance flights, which have a detrimental effect on the environment. While only 2% of annual emissions stems from aeroplanes and over 90% of our emissions is produced by cars, aeroplane emissions tend to be more damaging, due to the altitude at which they are released into the atmosphere.
Ryanair’s plans to expand to more regional airports, following Brexit, must be terrifying to many environmentalists. At the same time, it gives people in more secluded areas the ability to experience Europe as many citizens living in larger and capital city areas have for the past decade.
With the introduction of cheap flights across Europe, Ryanair has done a great disservice to the environment, but at the same time, also a great contribution to European integration. Never before, has it been easier for low-income citizens to explore and fall in love with the European continent. Let’s face it. Ryanair has also enabled many students and young professionals to see their friends and loved ones from their exchange semesters and probably also saved some Erasmus long-distance relationships in the process.
For travellers, the annoying part about Ryanair has always been its lack of service, the uncomfortable plastic seats and endless advertisement of in-flight shopping options. But one could forgive this in exchange for the low prices.
Now, Ryanair is getting entitled and greedy. After all, they have done so much for us, why shouldn’t the company get a little extra? That seems to be the philosophy behind its latest change in policies. Depending on where one flies from, Ryanair has implemented a new policy as of January 2018, regarding carry-on luggage. Essentially, passengers that did not purchase the optional priority boarding option are now forced to give up their hand luggage (unless it is only a small bag the size of a small laptop) before boarding the plane. This is of course not highlighted anywhere to the passengers and only explained shortly before boarding the plane, resulting in hasty scrambles to remove valuable items from one’s bag. If you are unlucky, you will find yourself without the time to remove anything from your bag, almost certainly resulting in damage to your belongings. All the while, the overhead compartments of the flight become suddenly empty and filled only by passenger’s jackets.
It is one thing to not properly communicate this change in policy with Ryanair’s passengers, but another entirely, to charge for hand luggage. Of course, Ryanair will defend its new policy, by explaining hand luggage is still included in the price. It is merely stored in the cargo hold of the plane, but let’s be honest: hand luggage is not hand luggage if you store it in the cargo hold.
This change in policy is the second change in recent years, after Ryanair and other airlines removed passenger’s ability to board with two hand bags (one large bag and a smaller hand bag) and signals a change towards less customer-oriented services. Travellers should be aware that travelling with hand luggage on Ryanair aircraft now requires the additional purchase of the priority boarding service. It should also be said that at this stage, competitors do not burden its passengers with these extra costs and therefore allow for more worry-free booking and travel conditions.