Ryan Air changes carry-on policy, now worst in Europe!

Ryan Air has earned a reputation for customer-unfriendly policies and, after an attempt to do better, they are back to being the worst: They have eliminated the free carry-on bag and are now limiting customers to one small bag to be stored under the seat only Anybody traveling with a regular-sized laptop will now have to purchase “Priority” to bring it on board! To quieten the likely howls of protest, Ryan Air is introducing a checked bag of up to 10kg at a lower price of EUR8 and an increased size for the personal item. Find out the details, so you don’t have any surprises and get stuck with high airport fees!

Post UPDATED with response from Ryan Air

I just recently wrote that Ryan Air is better than its reputation, after having a few good flights myself. It didn’t take them long to prove me wrong!
Ryan Air used to have a simple carry-on policy: one bag only, up to 10kg, the same as easy jet and others. That was easy to understand and enforce, and generous enough to do a short trip without having to check luggage.
Last year, they made the policy somewhat more generous, yet more complicated: You could bring a carry on and a personal item. If you chose to pay for “Priority Service”, you could bring both on board. If you didn’t, your large carry-on would be gate-checked at no charge and delivered to you at the baggage claim. While that was inconvenient and confusing for some, at least it was free!
Now just a year later, RyanAir is changing the policy again. You can still purchase “Priority Service”, but if you don’t, you won’t be able to gate-check your larger carry-on and will have to check your luggage at the check-in counter instead. They are hiding this under the “Improvement” of a lower fee for a check-in bag of up to 10kg of EUR/GBP8 instead of the fee of EUR25 for 20kg.  Funny enough, they introduced the gate-check process to make boarding quicker – and they are giving the same reason for eliminating it now!

What are the new rules? Effective November 1, 2018, you will only be allowed a small, personal item on board. You can purchase Priority and bring one roll-aboard up to 10kg and a personal item. Or you can check-in a lugggae of up to 10kg for EUR8 or a luggae of up to 20kg for EUR25. 

Another positive change that was hidden in the FAQ of the press announcement and pointed out in the press team response is the increased size of the small, personal item you can bring onbaord for free. It currently has a size of only 35x20x20cm (14x8x8in) which is smaller than some lady’s purse and most laptop bags or day packs. The allowed size after November 1, 2018 will be 40x25x20cm and they are providing some “grace” amount of 25% by making the sizer used at the gates 42x30x20cm and rejecting bags that won’t fit the sizer. 

While this makes the personal item size more reasonable, it is still the smallest carry-on luggage allowed in the industry – even much critized Wow Air allows 42x32x25cm. You will be able to fit a small, foldable backpack, a purse or one of my recommended personal items, the CabinZero mini! as long as they are not over-stuffed! But unfortunately, most laptop bags and backpacks designed for 15in or 17in laptops are still too big to fit! I have checked the most popular laptop backpacks on Amazon from brands like Targus, Victornox, Tumi, Timbuk2 or Amazon Basics and the vast majority of them are exceeding the baggage sizer – they are all taller! 
If you are caught at the gate with a personal item that doesn’t fit into the sizer, your bag will be tagged and checked into the hold for a fee of EUR25. This is likely to lead to drama at the gate and negative press when the first laptops are put into the hold and destroyed in the process!

Another policy hidden in the FAQ is that for practical reasons only 95 people will be allowed to purchase priority service on each flight – Ryan Air’s Boeing B737 only have space for 100 wheelies, so this ensures there is space for everybody! Make sure to purchase Priority Service at the time you book your ticket, so you are sure you can bring all your stuff – while you can add it later to your flight, the cap might be reached and Priority Service could be “sold out”! 

What can you do? If you are a road warrior and frequent business travelers, you probably should (continue to?) avoid RyanAir – it’s just not worth the hassle. If you are traveling frequently on routes only served non-stop by RyanAir, or your company requires you to fly them as the cheapest provider, it makes sense to invest in a light-weight, wheeled carry-on like the Lipault 22in or Samsonite ParaDiver. The 10kg limit is not your friend and many popular business carry-ons from Tumi or TravelPro easily weigh 4-7kg empty! You can combine that with a thin & light laptop bag that slides over the carry-on handle and meets the sizing requirements. You’ll have to pay for Priority to bring both on-board, can be first on the planes and don’t have to waste time at the baggage claim.

If you are a leisure traveler or prefer traveling without a wheeled carry-on, the ebags Weekender is a great bag that meets the sizing requirements, is not too heavy and can hold a laptop well protected as well as clothes for a few days. Keep in mind that it can still exceed 10kg, if you load it with a big laptop, accessories and a week’s worth of clothes, so bring a foldable daypack for your valuables to keep close on the plane. It’ll also help to meet the weight limit, in case you have more than 10kg – you can always put your laptop, accessories and toiletries bag into the daypack during check-in and boarding and return it to the ebags Weekender afterwards – there is no weight limit on the personal item! You’ll have to pay for the Priority Service as well to bring everything onboard.

If you are a leisurely leisure traveler, you can of course just check your wheeled carry-on and bring a small bag onboard with your valuables. Just make sure to weigh your check-in bag at home – 10kg is less than you might think, especially if you have a large bag of toiletries with glass bottles, etc. Also measure your small item – as I pointed out above, most standard daypacks will exceed the measurements. If you purchase a new personal item, make sure it’s soft and squishy – it’ll make it easier to (force-)fit it into the sizer!

If you abhor baggage fees and are determined to avoid them, you’ll have to travel very light, as most bags sold as personal items online will exceed the measurements allowed. You can buy the CabinZero mini – it fits the new RyanAir sizer, has a handy laptop sleeve built-in and fits enough clothes for up to a week! Check out my Top 10 Tips To Pack Light to find out how!

I personally used the “Priority Service” (apparently like 30% of all Ryan Air travelers) and found it worth the fee to avoid having to check my luggage. The fee of EUR6 is worth it to me to save 45+ minutes at check-in and baggage claim for each flight, as well as the convenience to board early and get out of the way of the crowds!
If you prefer to check your luggage rather than dragging it through the airport and lifting it into the overhead bins, the new policy might be a money-saver, as long as you can keep it under 10kg and qualify for the new fee of only EUR8, instead of EUR25 for 20kg!

So, what kind of traveler are you – road warrior who avoids Ryan Air at all cost or light traveler who avoids baggage fees at all costs – or somewhere inbetween? 

You can find all the nitty-gritty fine print of Ryan Air’s new policy here! Oh, and a shout-out to the Ryan Air media team – very often, it takes days to get a response from airlines or hotel companies, but Ryan Air was on the ball and responded within hours!

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