Ryanair customers who have to rebook their flights are being told they have to pay extra for luggage, priority boarding and fast track, even when these have already been paid for as part of their original booking, Which? has found.
With rules around international travel changing regularly and the risk of being told to self-isolate continuing to threaten travel and holiday plans, many flight passengers are relying on airlines’ fee-free change policies to rebook their flights if they are prevented from travelling.
However, Which? has heard from a number of Ryanair passengers, as well as seeing numerous complaints on social media, reporting that they are being asked to pay extra when rebooking for add-ons like luggage and priority boarding – required if passengers want to take a carry-on bag on their flight – even when these were already paid for in their original booking.
The airline’s ‘Zero Change Fee’ policy outlines that for bookings made after 10 June and before 30 September, there are no flight change fees to pay if passengers rebook more than seven days in advance of their flight. Ryanair’s website says the policy gives passengers “complete flexibility and peace of mind” if their travel plans change.
Its terms and conditions state that passengers will only pay more if their new flight is more expensive, or if extras such as luggage or priority boarding are more expensive on the new flight.
They also outline that if passengers have purchased a reserved seat, the same seats will be assigned on the new flight – but if the purchased seats are not available, passengers will be given the option to select new seats, and will be charged the difference if these seats are more expensive.
One customer, Mark Ball, had a flight booked to Poland for £148. He attempted to change the flight after his partner decided not to travel because of the cost and hassle of travelling in the face of current restrictions, but was told that he would have to pay another £42 for luggage and priority boarding, despite having already paid for these in his original booking.
After speaking to Ryanair’s customer service team on live chat, he was eventually told that luggage was more expensive for rebooked flights than on new bookings, claiming that luggage added onto new bookings has a discount applied to it while luggage booked onto a rebooked flight does not.
Another customer, Charles Parkes, was made to pay £28 extra on top of what he had already paid for Ryanair’s ‘Priority boarding and two cabin bags’ when changing his flight, also to Poland. Passengers need to pay for this add-on package in order to take a cabin bag onto a Ryanair flight.
Ryanair said that priority boarding on his original booking had cost £12 for his return flights, but that the cost for priority boarding for his rebooked return flights was £40. The airline did not explain why the add-on had increased in price.
When Which? looked to book a seat on the same flight as a new customer, the cost for the priority boarding add-on was £12, rather than the £40 Charles had been charged, suggesting that the add-on could be more expensive for existing customers that are changing their bookings than it is for new customers.
Ryanair said: “Ryanair’s zero change fee policy is exactly that – no change fee is applied to any flight changes in 2021. We have clearly communicated that if there are any differences on fares or ancillary services on the new flights, then these price differences will be payable. If there is no price difference then nothing is payable.”
Which? is urging anyone considering booking a flight to check the small print of the airline’s policy on fee-free changes before booking, to understand what costs they will be liable for if they have to change their flight.
Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, said:
“‘Zero change fee’ flight booking policies may seem attractive on the surface, but passengers should be aware that the flexibility offered by different airlines varies significantly.
“Ryanair’s flexible booking policies is one of the least generous of the UK’s major airlines. As well as customers reporting they are having to pay additional fees for add-ons they have already paid for, customers are also required to give significantly more notice for changes to bookings than other airlines, leaving them footing the bill if they can’t travel because travel rules change at the last minute or they are required to self-isolate.
“Those booking a holiday may find a package holiday offers better financial protections in the event of their travel plans changing than booking their flights and accommodation separately, while those making a flight-only booking should always check the terms of their carrier’s policy on fee-free changes before they book.”
Notes to editors:
- Ryanair’s Zero Change Fee policy: https://www.ryanair.com/gb/en/useful-info/no-change-fee
- Examples of complaints Which? has seen on social media as part of its research: