Words by Oliver Smith
Ryanair has announced a further reduction of its fees and charges as part of ongoing attempts to improve its image.
The low-cost airline – which unveiled its new “customer-friendly” ethos 18 months ago – has cut its airport check-in fee, which applies to anyone who forgets to check in online before their flight, from £70 (A$135) per person per flight to A$87, and its missed departure fee from A$215 to A$195.
It has also reduced the cost of checking in some sporting equipment. Previously, a flat rate of A$97 applied to all items. Now travelling with skis (A$78), golf bags (A$58) and small sports bags (A$58) will cost a little less. Bikes (A$116), however, will cost more.
The changes are the latest part of Ryanair’s drive to improve the passenger experience, announced in November 2013. Since then it has introduced allocated seating and allowed passengers to travel with a second carry-on bag, such as a “small ladies handbag or [a] small airport shopping bag”.
The cost of checking in luggage at the airport (rather than online) has fallen from A$116 to A$58, its boarding card reissue fee has been cut from A$135 to A$29, and a 24-hour post-booking “grace” period has been introduced to correct minor errors or spelling mistakes, free of charge (after that it costs A$215 or A$312 at the airport).
Ryanair’s website has been simplified, reducing the number clicks required to book a flight and the number of “opt-outs” customers must navigate their way around.
There’s been a slight improvement in the on-board experience, with fewer announcements and even plans to upgrade those garish yellow interiors. And the airline has sought to improve its complaints procedure by fielding problems on Twitter (with a survey by Skift suggesting that, of all the major airlines in Europe that use social media to deal with complaints, it is the fastest to respond, at 66 minutes on average).
The overhaul hasn’t been all plain sailing. The new baggage policy means there is no longer enough room in the overhead lockers, so as many as half of passengers are routinely forced to put their “carry-on” luggage in the hold.
Its checked baggage fees are still industry leading, with a 15kg bag costing between A$29 and A$68 each-way, with those travelling in high season, often families, paying the most, and a 20-kilogram bag costing up to A$90.
It still faces criticism for using an exchange rate of £1=€1 when calculating its fees and charges. This means Britons still pay more than their European counterparts.
And, of course, the in-flight jingle remains.
This article was written by Oliver Smith from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.