Ryanair could be on the verge of another backlash when it brings in its new luggage rules next week.
For any passengers who have not forked out an extra fiver for priority boarding must put the hand luggage they would normally take on board the plane in the hold from Monday, January 15.
They can take another bag on board … but that bag is really small and anyone carrying one bigger will face a £50 extra charge at the departure gate just before they are about to get on the aircraft.
This hand luggage must not exceed 35cms by 20cms by 20cms (14ins by 8ins by 8ins) and is sure to catch many people out who think it’s the size of a shoulder bag or even a handbag ... but most are bigger.
We have measured typical handbags and all of them would break this rule.
Ryanair says this would be the size of a laptop but the small laptop I’m using to write this on is 35cms across by 23cms (and that’s without a laptop bag) so would incur the £50 fee.
These bags must go under the seat, not in the overhead lockers.
Even more worrying, on the promotional picture Ryanair uses to illustrate the change the hand luggage looks to be far larger than the new rules allow and so could be seen as misleading.
The woman is smiling there but perhaps that would quickly disappear when she was hit with the £50 excess charge just moments before she gets on board.
The main 10kg bag can be 40cms across and the red extra bag looks even wider than that.
All this could be storing up problems for Ryanair staff at the boarding gates as people turn up with second bags far larger than those allowed.
Ryanair states on its website: “Failure to comply will result in a charge of £50 per item and may also lead to delays for all passengers on board.”
It also begs the question that if everyone pays for priority boarding then there would not be enough space in the overhead lockers for everyone to take their main 10kg on board so what then?
Easyjet does allow a second piece of hand luggage and the size is far larger at 45cms by 36cms by 20cms (18ins by 14ins by 8ins).
A spokeswoman for Ryanair does not deny the bag in the photo is bigger than it should be.
“This image is for illustrative purposes,” she said. “Our bag policy and size restrictions are clearly laid out on our website.”
And she also revealed that there will be measuring equipment at departure gates to check the size of bags being carried.
“Small bags must fit in the sizer at the boarding gate in order to fit under the seat on board,” she said. “Only customers whose bag appears to staff to be larger than permitted will be required to use the sizer.”
But she said that passengers must carry all their electronic devices in these small bags - people are not allowed to put items powered by lithium ion batteries into the hold.
She said: “Customers will be asked to remove any devices containing lithium ion batteries from any bag going into the hold and to carry them in their small bag.”
And she said there won’t be take-off delays as staff will be able to take cash and card payments quickly at the departure gate.
She said: “Our policy remains that any cabin bag that exceeds the maximum cabin bag restrictions will be refused at the boarding gate or, where available, placed in the hold of the aircraft for a fee of £50/€50. There will be no delays as the small number of customers who show up with the wrong size bag can pay the fee by cash or card as has been the case up to now.”
And she didn’t think that would lead to problems for staff dealing with angry passengers.
She added: “As we have communicated our new policy extensively with our customers we do not envisage confrontation from angry passengers.”