We previously reported on Ryanair’s change in carry-on bag policy in early 2018. Now, as of November 2018, Ryanair’s bag policy has changed once again and not for the better. Whereas previously, it was possible to have a carry-on bag placed in the hold at no extra charge, now only priority boarding passengers are permitted to take one small bag, plus a larger cabin bag into the cabin free of charge. Non-priority customers can only bring one small bag, that must fit underneath their seat. If non-priority customers want to bring a second bigger bag, they can purchase a lower cost 10kg check-in bag during the online booking process. This bag must be dropped off at physical check-in at the airport. Non-priority passengers that try to bring a bigger bag with them are now charged 25€ at the gate, as of January 8th 2019, which in many cases can amount to half if not the full amount of the flight price.
Once more, Ryanair has shown utter disregard for customer service and revealed that its business model is simply to bait customers with ridiculously low flight prices and make them pay extra for all additional parts of the service that is essential to them. Not only is it impossible to make any longer journey without a bag, but Ryanair also tends to use smaller more remote airports that largely exist because of the heavy usage of cheap airlines, like Ryanair, WizzAir and EasyJet.
These airports often have more expensive (and often monopolistic) modes of transportation into the cities passengers are longing to go. For example, a flight to Brussels with Ryanair for many countries exclusively goes to Brussels Charleroi airport. This airport only connects to Brussels in two ways: 1) a two hour bus shuttle that costs 14€ and 2) a far longer train journey with a stop-over in Charleroi for about 15€.
A flight with Brussels Airlines or one of the other big airlines that fly to Brussels Zaventem airport will be slightly more expensive, but the direct train to Brussels takes only 15 minutes and costs about 8€. Both De Lijn and STIB buses are also available, the latter of which still only take about 45 minutes to Brussels Schuman in the European quarter and costs between 3 and 4,50€, depending on the ticket purchased.
Not only is the journey more comfortable to Zaventem, but it is also far cheaper. As the big airlines have recently experienced big price drops to compete with the cheap airlines, their offers have begun to outshine Ryanair & Co. Not only are many of the big airlines (Brussels airlines excluded) still offering free drinks and snacks for their continental flights, but they also include free luggage and provide a quicker, cheaper and more comfortable journey. If one adds up the total costs of a journey with Ryanair, compared to the total costs of a journey with a big airline at the same time, it is now more often the case than not, that the Ryanair option actually ends up being more expensive (if booked at the right time, naturally).
Essentially, this means Ryanair is banking on two things to stay relevant for customers: 1) Customers are used to Ryanair being the cheaper alternative and therefore will continue to book Ryanair without questioning whether this is still the same. 2) Customers will only look at the surface prices of the plane and not go through the trouble of researching and calculating total costs of their journey.
Unfortunately for Ryanair, we noticed. The word is spreading and many companies already are refusing to reimburse their employees for journeys made with Ryanair, preferring instead to pay a little more if necessary, to avoid supporting Ryanair’s shady business practices.
No matter how much money Ryanair makes of additional priority passenger purchases, it will not be enough to offset the loss in revenue from all those passengers that will refuse to book a Ryanair flight, not just on principle, but also because they realise that at the end of the day, Ryanair may be incredibly cheap, but not necessarily for its customers anymore.