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
An American Airlines Boeing 757 and Airbus A300 line up for take off at Miami International Airport
Airlines have to start getting pretty creative to come up with new fees to help increase their revenue. Even though I get frustrated to have to pay the fees myself, I at least understand why I am paying them. American has started charging a new fee and I am not sure if it is worth it.
Depending on the length of the flight, you can now pay anywhere from $19 to $39 to sit in the first few rows in economy and be one of the first ones to board. There is no question being one of the first to board to make sure you have room for your carry-ons and it is nice to get off the plane instead of waiting in the back for everyone else to. However, I am not sure if the added cost is worth it.
United has something similar called EconomyPlus, but at least when you pay more for those seats, you also get additional legroom. With United, you can purchase the seats at the time of booking, but with American’s Express Seats, they can only be purchased from a kiosk starting 24hrs before a flight to 50 minutes before take off.
Virasb Vahidi, Chief Commercial Officer for American Airlines states, “Express Seats highlights American’s focus on offering customers what they value most.” I am not sure if passengers really value paying more to sit in the front the most. However, I haven’t done the research and spoke with a lot of American passengers about it, which I assume American has and they got positive feedback. The nice thing for American is there is no need to change the layouts of their aircraft to make this work, which means it will be cheap to test and cheap to pull the plug if it doesn’t work out. Story found: Flight Wisdom Image: AV8NLVR
Surprisingly Southwest Airlines made bank off fees in 2009
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), US airlines made $7.8 billion in fees in 2009. This is a 42% increase over 2008. BTS says in a release “the airlines collected $2.7 billion in baggage fees, $2.4 billion from reservation change fees, and $2.7 billion from other ancillary fees, such as pet transportation fees and frequent flyer award program mileage sales.”
Delta brought in the most money with $1.65 billion in fees and surprisingly Southwest was fourth. Southwest might not charge for bags, but they do charge for other services like pets, unaccompanied minors and an early check-in option. Even before Spirit Airlines started charging for carry-ons, 21% of their total operating revenue came from fees — the highest of any other airline.
$7.8 billion is a lot of money. Passengers keep complaining about fees, but it is obvious that they keep paying them. I am not going to be surprised if more creative fees start showing up in the next few years. Source: USA Today Image: TVL1970
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Photo taken when I put Alaska's guarantee to the test!
Airline fees are not very unique anymore. It takes a bit more than a fee change or new fee to motivate me enough to write a blog on it (like charging for carry-ons). Why does Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air get a blog on fees?
Not because they are raising some fees (1st checked bag from $15 to $20) or that they are lowering others (2nd checked back from $25 to $20, 3rd from $50 to $20), but because they are making their from plane-to-you bag guarantee even better.
Previously if you checked a bag with Alaska or Horizon, they guaranteed your bag would reach the baggage carousel 25 minutes or less from the time your airplane made it to the jetway. Now that they are raising the prices for some passengers, they are improving the guarantee to only 20 minutes.
If your bag doesn’t make it in 20minutes, you can either get $20 off your next flight or 2000 miles (I vote take the miles). A while back I put their guarantee to the test on a flight from Seattle to Phoenix and my bag made it in just over 15 minutes.
Yea, fees are annoying, but they aren’t going away. At least one airline gives you something extra with your baggage fees!
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