Last Thursday, Ryanair was hit with a €3 million fine for its baggage charges, though the company says they will appeal the penalty, which was issued by Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM), an Italian market regulator. AGCM also fined Hungarian low-cost operator Wizz Air €1 million.
In August, Ryanair announced changes to its baggage policy and only allowed passengers who paid at least €7 for priority boarding to bring a carry-on on flights. Meanwhile, Wizz Air followed suit with a similar policy, only allowing passengers that paid at least €4.60 to bring a carry-on on flights.
Since November, both airlines have charged passengers for carry-on luggage, though small bags continue to be free. Larger bags can be either checked in or booked under a “priority” ticket for an additional fee. According to AGCM, passengers have been charged between €5 and €25 to bring hand luggage on board.
Last fall, AGCM began an investigation of the new hand baggage policies, claiming that baggage was an “essential” part of the booking and must be allowed on flights free of charge. The regulator stated that the added luggage fees were “not transparent" since initial ticket prices excluded the extra charges.
"Hand baggage is an essential element of the air transport service and its transport must be permitted without incurring any additional costs," AGCM said in a statement. "In fact, also on the basis of the European legislation on air transport, the foreseeable and unavoidable supplements must be included in the price of the basic service presented since the first contact and, therefore, cannot be separated from this with the request for further sums.”
The regulator criticized the airlines for misleading consumers with initial low fares that increase at the end of the booking process. In a statement sent to Euronews on Friday, Ryanair said it would "immediately appeal" the decision. Adding, "There is no basis for a competition authority to issue a decision that relates to air safety, customer convenience or punctuality. Our baggage policy is transparent and beneficial to consumers."
One Ryanair passenger made headlines last fall after avoiding the extra fees by cleverly packing everything into his coat pockets.
Ryanair is an Irish low-cost airline founded in 1984 and headquartered in Swords, Dublin, Ireland. Its primary operational bases are at Dublin and London Stansted airports. Wizz Air is a Hungarian low-cost airline founded in 2003 with its head office in Budapest.
Wizz Air serves various cities across Europe, as well as some destinations in North Africa and the Middle East. According to SkyTrax, in terms of ranking among European low-cost airlines, Ryanair comes in at number four, while Wizz Air is ranked at number 9. The best rated low-cost airline in Europe is Norwegian.