Ryanair to halve check-in time for passengers without reserved seats

Not sure that Ryanair are going to win many new fans with this news...

From Wednesday 13 June, the budget airline will be charging it's passengers a shocking £55-per-person fee to check in at the airport IF you haven't already checked in online before arriving. And, to make it that little bit harder, they'll be reducing their free online check-in window to just two days before flights, from the current four days.

So customers who don't pay to reserve a seat in advance will only be able to check in online from 48 hours to two hours before departure. Ryanair have said that even after the change, the check-in window will still be double that of many of its rivals.

In 2016 Ryanair reduced the window for check in from a week to just four days, and since May 2017 the airline has been repeatedly criticised for assigning passengers travelling together seats far away from each other on its aircraft. The airline responded by saying: “We are very happy to facilitate any customer who wants a free-of-charge random seat, but we are also going to do our best to facilitate customers who are willing to pay for a reserved seat.”

Under the new changes, if you do pay for a reserved seat - which can typically cost around £4 per person per flight - you'll be able to check in from 60 days before departure. The airline claim that the two day reduction for non-reservers to check in will give their customers who have paid for reserved seating more time to pick their seats. On top of the other 58 days available to them!

The change will apply to ALL flights from 13 June - both new and existing bookings.

Ryanair has offered passengers booked to travel from 13 June onwards, and who have not paid for reserved seating, the chance to cancel and request a full refund. But it must be made by 19 May. After this date, the airline states, "the change will be regarded as implicitly accepted.“

I can already foresee some future problems for the airline and its passengers - for example, holidaymakers who are away and unable to get online or to a printer in the allotted time period. 

How to avoid the fees

  • Download the Ryanair app before your trip while you have assured and reliable wifi. You'll still need wifi once the check-in window opens, so I'd recommend confirming that your accommodation has it, or that there's somewhere that does nearby. Check whether you get free data at your destination.
  • Ask your hotel to print off your boarding pass for you. Again, it could be worth checking with your hotel before travelling.
  • Find an internet café. Not the most exciting thing to do on holiday, but it's still an option.
  • Reserve a seat. It's annoying, but around £4 per person per flight could be preferable to a £55 per person fee if you forget to check in or find that you can't. And if you're travelling in a group you'll also ensure that you get the seats you want.
  • Don't fly with Ryanair. It's the simplest thing - Ryanair flights often look like great value for money, and they really can be if you follow the ever-changing guidelines. And the company also recently won the noteworthy accolade of "the word's safest airline." But it can also be a case of "you get what you pay for" - avoiding them entirely can mean a lot less stress  - but also more expense. 

Ryanair's last big change was to introduce a £5 fee for priority boarding, without which passengers risked having their main cabin bag being put into the hold at the gate. But the move was delayed after the airline had to cancel hundreds of flights resulting from a rota change and a shortage of pilots.

The company was also hit by a series of industrial actions across Europe in protest at pay, conditions and union recognition, causing further confusion. More action is threatened by European unions this summer unless Ryanair adopts national employment laws for all their workers.

The carrier are clearly trying to eke out every possible way of making extra money that they can, and to get as many people as possible downloading their app. But you have to question their methods and motives, as well as their PR department's willingness to accept the bad name and continued criticism they're attracting. Surely they can't continue to mistreat the very customers who are paying to use their service, without some regulatory comeback?

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Stuart Lewis

Post by Stuart

Stuart discovered his passion for all things travel during one of his first jobs overseeing the travel section of a well-known bookshop. He has worked in publishing for 15 years, most recently as a freelance travel writer. He's always planning his next adventure away. Favourite place? It has to be Western Canada & The Rockies. Next trip? Copenhagen.

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