Ryanair Boeing 737-800 (EI-DHK)

Ryanair Boeing 737-800 (EI-DHK)

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?

Source: Irish Times via Air Observer Image: wico

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: david@airlinereporter.com

Aviation in Seattle: Exploring the Flying Heritage Collection at Paine Field
James Burke

I don’t find this fee unfair. Ryanair is actually quite reasonable about it (you can check in 14 days prior to your flight – solving the issue of going away for a week to sit on the beach and not having any internet access). Ryanair is cheap to fly, but you have to be prepared for everything. I was in Dublin for business awhile back, and hopped over to Nottingham for a weekend. I checked in 2 weeks before from home, used my smaller carry-on bag, and had my passport ready. the only run-in I had was that they wouldn’t let me take the coffee I had just bought at East Midlands on my flight back to Dublin (which is fine, the coffee was pretty gross anyway… I have milder, Canadian tastes…).

I think there’s a future of wandering Ryanair airports with a portable printer and offering the same service for just 20 euro.

Heh, that actually is a great idea!


I’m right there with you. It may be too high, or exorbitant, or any of those things. but the last time I checked, it was a private business and had free reign to put into action whatever prices or charges it wants to. It’s like any other business. Shop there if you like. And if you don’t want to, don’t.

Denver Dan

Don’t forget to bring a seatbelt, oxygen, toilet paper or a flotation device from home either as these will be “EXTRAS” soon too…

Not sure if any of you have took Ryanair (I did). Some of their fees are outrageous. Maybe not the one in the article but the online check in fee or 5 Euros is (note, this is the only way to check in, there is no FREE option). that is ridiculous and should rather be in the total price. The same holds true for the fee they charge if you pay with anything but I think some prepaid credit card. outrageous too since no one has that. Both fees should be prohibited and included in the advertised price. Fees people can not avoid should not be allowed.

Well in the US we have to pay un-advertised taxes, 9/11 fee, and fuel surcharges. But I actually agree that it is pretty messed up there is no free option for checking-in. However, they are a private business and should be able to run things how they want. If they wanted to charge $5000.00 per flight, they should be able to — and they would probably be going out of business pretty quickly.


Mike wrote: “Some of their fees are outrageous. Maybe not the one in the article but the online check in fee or 5 Euros is (note, this is the only way to check in, there is no FREE option). that is ridiculous and should rather be in the total price”

For the reason you give, Mike, the online check-in fee is ridiculous to the point of being funny. There is no free option. The only thing is that it IS included in the total price. When Ryanair quotes prices in its advertising, those prices include the check-in fee. As I understand it, this fee exists so that Ryanair can waive it from time to time to give even lower prices and, I suppose, to confuse “screen-scraper” websites. For example, there is a current Ryanair sale offering 3 euro flights to many destinations. Those 3 euro flights can be bought for a genuine 3 euro. The check-in fee is waived. I know because I’ve just (today) booked round-trip flights from London to Faro for a total of 6 GBP (7 euro). I paid using my prepaid Mastercard.

Ryanair’s advertised prices do not include a rather high credit-card fee which is applied to all bookings except those made with a prepaid Mastercard. Those of us that fly many times a year with Ryanair have a such a card in our wallets just to make flight bookings.

Finally, I’ve seen in some European airports internet shops/kiosks that offer a boarding card printing service. I think they can only be used up to 40 minutes before the flights and even then only if you’ve checked-in already and somehow managed to forget, mislay or destroy your boarding card. If you’ve forgotten to check-in online and the 4-hour limit has passed I think there is no alternative but to pay the 40 euro to Ryanair for the privilege of them doing it at the airport.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *