Airport queues, stressful security procedures and the ever-changing cabin bag sizes – air travel may well be one of the quickest ways to get around but can also be one of the most stressful. Budget airline Ryanair tries to help ease your stress, by offering a Priority Budget option – at about £12 per person, one way – which means customers get an extra cabin bag and get to board the plane first. But it seems a glitch in their system has left many customers out of pocket – and also unable to take advantage of the options they’ve paid for.
The airline’s cabin baggage policy state: “As of November 1st, 2018, Ryanair’s bag policy will change.
“Only priority boarding passengers will be permitted to take one small bag (40cm x 20cm x 25cm), plus a larger cabin bag (55 x 40 x 20cm) with a maximum weight allowance of 10kg into the cabin free of charge.
“Non-priority customers can only bring one small bag (40cm x 20cm x 25cm), that must fit into the sizer.
“If non-priority customers want to bring a second bigger bag, they can purchase a lower cost 10kg check-in bag for at time of booking online.
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“It must be checked-in at the airport bag drop desk, prior to reaching airport security.”
With this, many customers are opting for priority, especially for trips which only last a few days.
However, Ryanair have faced a wealth of complaints about the priority service.
Customers in their hordes have contacted Ryanair online, stating either their Priority Boarding option has only been applied to only one flight of a return journey, there were more customers on priority than on a normal service or that airports are not implementing the service despite it being paid for.
Miriam Rice, a PR manager from London, told Express.co.uk how her priority booking – which was made for flights to and from Ireland – was not added to their outbound flight and instead four lots of baggage was added to her return flight.
Ms Rice, 24, said: “As if charging for hand luggage wasn’t bad enough, I went to add 2x hand luggage for my partner and I for our outbound flight to Ireland on Thursday and 2x bags for the return.
“Once the transaction went through it showed on my receipt that 4x bags had been allocated to the return flight. Which is beyond unhelpful.
“I rang customer services, paying to be kept on hold of course, they didn’t even let me finish my story or offer up my flight details.
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“They simply told me that if hand luggage is sold out the bags will be reallocated to a flight where they are available and that they will strictly not refund me.
“If this is the case I would have obviously just paid for one large check-in bag both ways which works out the same.”
Ms Rice now says she wishes she had “never booked the flight in the first place”, adding: “What’s more frustrating is my boyfriend is Irish and a Junior Doctor so finding a few days where he can take some leave to see his family is really difficult.
“There are often so few options when travelling to Ireland (and so many other places in Europe) it means Ryanair is the only choice.”
One Express reporter also had an issue with the service, having booked – and paid for – Priority Boarding for a trip to Italy.
But when the reporter came to printing their boarding passes, it transpired Priority Boarding was only added to the return leg and not the outbound journey.
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After calling up Ryanair, she was told the service had now sold out for the outbound flight and, despite paying for it, she would not be able to take the extra cabin bags with her or board the plane early.
Ryanair have refunded the cost for the outbound journey, but the reporter has now had to stump up an extra £40 to put the same size bags in the hold – a whole £16 extra.
The airline said: “This customer was not overcharged and had Priority Boarding added to the return flight.”
So is priority worth it?
Customer Expert Martin Newman told Express.co.uk: “Paying for speedy boarding or other types of ‘services’, such as paying to secure the seat you want, plays on the consumers fear that they may not get to sit together if they’re travelling with their family or someone they want to sit beside.
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“Customers are also concerned about whether or not they will get their hand luggage into an overhead locker or it may end up being put in the hold.
“And if you’re only travelling with hand luggage you might view this as an inconvenience as you’ll need to wait for your luggage to be offloaded and sent to the carousel as opposed to walking off the aircraft and only having customs to clear before starting your holiday.
“Airlines should focus on service and providing the best possible experience. That will be a driver of loyalty.
“As Ryanair have discovered to their cost over the past couple of years, customers will vote with their feet and their budgets and use other airlines if the service is so bad it outweighs lower expenditure: if you’re waiting six hours to fly to Malaga only to be sat on a broken seat with no refreshments, you’re going to be asking yourself whether it’s worth paying another 20 quid with an airline that can do better.
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“My experience is that 99 percent of the time you will get to sit with the person you want to and you will also find space for your bag, even if it’s in under the seat in front of you.
“Therefore, do these additional ‘services’ provide value for money? No. Are they about improving customer experience? No. They’re about making more margin per passenger.”
Ryanair issued a statement in response to the issue, which read: “Priority Boarding is limited and can be sold out, especially in the peak summer months.
“All of our fees are entirely transparent and always optional to our customers.”