It has been quite some time since I last talked about one of my favorite airlines: Ryanair. Last time I pointed out how Ryanair was actually talking about becoming a more mature airline. Their CEO, Michael O’Leary was touting what they can offer passengers versus being the lowest cost airline possible. Although they aren’t getting attention over a crazy new fee idea, they are in some hot water for an old fee.
If you think the fees of airlines in the United States are crazy, you might be a little shocked to see how Ryanair does business. Having to pay $45 for a checked in bag on Spirit Airlines? Ha… That is amateur night. The fee in question is the ability to print your boarding pass at the airport. If you do not manage to print it at home, you are looking at a €40 (about $54.00) fee.
Do not get me wrong, that is a lot of money for a very simple process, but it is a part of the process — this is how Ryanair works. You get super dirt cheap tickets and then fees for pretty much everything else outside of moving your bottom from one part of the world to another. This is their business model and it is very successful for them. The more people check in at home, the less kiosks and employees they need at the airport, reducing costs and reducing ticket fares. Although fees can be annoying, Ryanair is quite clear of their policies and they pass down the savings to the customers. If you do not like the policies of the airline, don’t fly the airline.
Anyhow, a Spanish judge has now ruled that this fee is “unfair.” This all started with a passenger named Dan Miro, took a Ryanair flight back in May 2009. He missed the part where he should print his boarding pass at home and was quite upset when he found out how much he had to pay at the airport. It just so happened that Miro is a Spanish lawyer and instead of taking the blame for not realizing his mistake, he decided to take Ryanair to court.
Ryanair argued they are a low cost carrier and do things differently than other airlines. However, the judge wouldn’t hear it and decided that the airline is responsible for printing boarding passes, since that is the way it works. Ryanair sees the boarding pass just like an ID. You need an ID to fly and if you forget it at home, you just don’t get to fly. Instead of leaving a passenger high and dry if they forget their boarding pass, the airline will allow passengers to print it out at the airport… for a fee. Although a very different procedure from most airlines, this really isn’t all that crazy. An airline is not allowed to try to do things differently without fear of being taken to court?
Ryanair states that if they have to stop charging a fee for printing boarding passes, they might just not offer to print them at the airport at all. How lame would that be? I might start sounding like a broken record here, but if you do not like the fees of one airline, do not fly it. Use your cash to give your vote. So many people talk about hating fees, yet they they see that super low price, they cannot help themselves. Always reminds me of the quote, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
What are your thoughts? Is this a fee that has come too far? Do you think a US carrier might try this fee someday? Should US carriers be sued for the fees they already have?