Ryanair, known for charging passengers for every conceivable aspect or airline travel, has lost one court battle over a controversial ancillary fee levied against its passengers … charging passengers for boarding passes.
Back in May 2009 I wrote about Ryanair’s fee for passengers to check in here – Ryanair’s New Fee To ‘Check In’ & The Real Cost Of Some Low Cost Carriers . Ryanair’s boarding pass fee isn’t uniform, the fee is based in variables … but no matter what, passengers have to pay for their boarding pass. In May of 2009 the fees for boarding passes were €5 for those who booked their ticket online, €10 for those who checked in on the phone and €40 for those picking up their boarding passes at the airport.
The fees for checking in and getting your boarding passes are levied each way, so if a passenger checks in at home on their first flight but needs to check in at the airport on the return flight, the total fee is €45, checking in at the airport for both directions of travel would be €80.
It was only a matter of time before Ryanair’s fees for boarding passes were challenged in court … and they were by Dan Miro Garcia, a Spanish lawyer specializing in Aeronautical Law and consumer defense against airlines. Mr. Miro Garcia took legal action against Ryanair after he was charged €40 for his boarding pass at Barcelona Girona Airport (GRO), flying to Alghero-Fertilla Airport (AHO), in May of 2010. Judge Barbara Cordoba heard arguments in this case on December 21st 2010.
In handing down the down the ruling against Ryanair, last week, Judge Cordoba stated that Ryanair’s status as a low cost carrier does “not allow it to alter its basic contractual obligations,” based on the current international air travel conventions. Judge Cordoba also stated “I declare abusive and, therefore, null, the clause in the contract by which Ryanair obliges the passenger to take a boarding pass to the airport.” and “The customary practice over the years has been that the obligation to provide the boarding pass has always fallen on the airline.”
Ryanair intends to appeal the decision by Judge Cordoba. Should Spanish courts uphold Judge Cordoba’s ruling, Ryanair will be forced to remove all fees for boarding passes, throughout Europe, eliminating millions of Euros in ancillary revenue annually.
Ryanair’s spokesman Daniel de Carvalho is quoted as saying “The court is wrong.” and “You need the boarding card to fly. If a passenger arrives without a boarding card, we find an ad hoc solution to their problem. The €40 is a penalty for doing that. We serve the boarding card in exactly the same way that the passenger makes the booking, by internet.”
Mr. de Carvalho followed up with an inflammatory statement, in the style of Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary, as he stated “If the problem is the €40 charge for this service, we’ll simply stop offering the service. That, of course, will mean the passenger who arrives without a boarding card cannot fly.”
This may the first in a long line of legal actions against Ryanair’s ancillary revenue fees by passengers … however Ryanair passengers are well aware of the airline’s fees. The airline’s fees are not hidden on the company website, quite the contrary, they are easily found and passengers are made aware of the fees throughout the booking process.