Everyday I read stories regarding passengers who are upset about carry on bags, checked bags, legroom, missing flights because they were late. Today was no different … except today this story was published by the BBC and it is virally traveling throughout Twitter, Ryanair tells girl to buy £190 plane seat for violin.
According to the BBC Francesca Rijks, 12, a music student from Cheshire, was flying home from Dusseldorf, from Weeze Airport (NRN), following a family vacation in Germany with Ryanair when she was informed she’d need to buy a seat for her violin case or pay a fee to place it in the baggage hold.
This news story leaves out a number of key pieces of the story, given that Ryanair is very well known for its “No Exceptions” carry on baggage policy. The first question I would ask, since Francesca father, Harmen Rijks, states the airline said the violin could be carried on, did he look at Ryanair’s very easy to find and public policy that requires passengers to purchase a seat for small instruments when flying with the airline?
While Ryanair allows for up to 10kg (22lbs) & 55cm x 40cm 20cm (21in x 15.5in x 7.5in) for its carry on baggage it is extremely strict in carrying out it’s “No Exceptions” carry-baggage policy.
Ryanair’s carry-on rules go rules go one step further that most in enforcing it’s ‘one carry’ policy … Should you purchase any duty free in the airport it must be carry inside the carry on bag. Have a camera? It cannot be on your shoulder, it must be in your carry on bag. Woman with a purse? Nope, it must fit inside the bag
While Mr. Rijks contends that the airline allowed them to carry the violin at check in, only to be stopped at the gate, failure to comply with the rules is not a reason to be upset with the airline. An error by a check-in agent is also not ground for a passenger to not comply with a clearly published rule by an airline.
Mr. Rijks states “This was an absolute disgrace. Their policy appears to discriminate against violinists, the vast majority of whom simply can’t afford to purchase an additional seat,” however a section of Ryanair’s website clearly states the following “Smaller musical items, such as a guitar, violin or viola which exceed our cabin baggage dimensions may be carried in the cabin, if an extra seat has been purchased.”
While I may not agree with many of Ryanair’s pricing policies, their website and policies do not hide their fees, The airline is very transparent about is ancillary costs and it reserves the right to place any restrictions or additional fees on baggage it chooses, whether passengers agree or not.
The Incorporated Society of Musicians senior legal advisor David Abrahams added “The idea that musicians should be forced to purchase an additional seat on board an aircraft because they are carrying an instrument that can be stored safely in the overhead lockers is unfair, discriminatory and irrational.”
Personally I do not agree with Mr. Abrahams, Ryanair charges passengers to buy a ticket, in addition to the ticket fee, as well as to get a boarding pass … and for nearly everything else possible. The fact is that Ryanair e-mails each and every passenger a clear set of rules and regulations they must agree to before the booking is final. While much of what Ryanair does may seem irrational, the fact is the airline turns a profit and does so by charging fees most other airlines would never dare to dream of … even in this new age of charging for everything.
Anyone flying with Ryanair must know that a £1 fare from the UK to Germany is to good to be true … and that when all the fees and related costs are added up its often not less expensive than flying a different airline that is not as restrictive and does not have a militant “no exceptions” policy.