When is Priority really Priority?

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by Isabel Conway –

So when is priority really what it says on the box?

Travelling from London Gatwick to Cork recently I had a (€25) pre-paid 20kg checked in bag but no priority boarding, or priority plus because both categories had been filled long before my flight dates. The familiar Ryan Air scrum to get aboard had shifted over to the priority queue.

It felt strange to be standing in the much smaller queue for non-priority boarding, behind those who had paid far less for their carry on (max 10 kilos) baggage costing between €6 and €10 instead of the original €6 flat rate. If non-priority customers want to put a 10 kg into the hold they will need to pay a checked baggage fee of €10 to €12 (up from €8 in November).

Priority boarders now account for more than half of the total passengers on board Ryanair flights, begging the question: has priority now become the majority?

By reducing the amount of baggage non-priority travellers can take on board to just one small personal bag which can fit under the seat in front Ryan Air vowed to reduce boarding delays. Take a second bag to the gate and you’ll be charged a €25 fee!.

Passengers can avoid this fee by paying €10 for priority boarding, which also allows a second bag on board.

A useful table recently compiled compares the priority passes and luggage allowance policies of 10 airlines (including Ryan Air, EasyJet and Flybe), helping travellers to plan better avoiding surprise baggage fees at the airport and a sad start to their holidays. Available in the Know Before You Go section at www.aph.com/lowcostairlines The research compares the size and weight allowances of luggage permitted for priority and non- priority customers and the benefits of paying extra for priority boarding and the costs for checked in luggage before and after the initial time of booking.

Ryanair is one of only two of the airlines researched who insists that non-priority passengers board with one small personal bag only such as a handbag, small backpack or laptop bag. Show up with an un-booked larger piece of HAND luggage and you are charged €20 at check in and €25 to have it placed in the hold at the boarding gate. You’ve been warned………..and here’s guessing that the baggage allowance rules and fees have no intention of remaining static.

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