Ryanair eliminates check-in desks - is this wise?

Ryanair recently announced that they have taken the decision to eliminate all of their airport check-in desks as from Friday 2nd October. This move will force all passengers to check-in for flights online and it takes away the element of choice. What is worse, all passengers will be charged a fee of €6 for doing the work of their own check-in, which contradicts the general Internet concept of financially rewarding consumers to do things for themselves online.

There are more negatives to this decision too, as the passengers who forget to check-in on-line (or are simply not able to) will face an emergency check-in fee of €45, otherwise they will not be permitted to board.

This Ryanair anti-passenger move is designed to save the airline €57 million per year in operating costs. However, only time will tell what the real impact to the business will be in terms of lost passengers, especially on the quality consumer side, that is if there are any left!

Many older passengers are not Internet savvy and online check-in may be a bridge too far for them, however it would be true to say that non Internet users tend to avoid Ryanair anyhow. There is also the case of travellers or budget businessmen on the road that may not have an Internet connection to check-in or at least access to a printer when in transit to print the Boarding Card.

In an attempt to Justify the €45 Penalty Tax imposed on those who forget or simply cannot check-in online for one reason or another, an Ryanair spokesman said: 'Hopefully they will only forget once. The high fee is designed to encourage people to remember, and not to be hit again. Technically the fee is to cover re-issuing the ticket.'

The web check-in will be open from 21 days to 4 hours before the scheduled departure time of each flight, so there is no chance to leave things to the last minute either!

Ryanair's Stephen McNamara said: 'This pioneering move will again lower the cost of flying for millions of Ryanair customers. We are confident that all passengers will embrace this improved service which will allow them to forever avoid check-in queues while at the same time it will enable Ryanair to lower our airport and handling costs and pass on these savings to all passengers in the form of even lower air fares next winter.'
At Perpetual Traveller we ask "What Planet are they on?".

Ryanair has long been unashamed to charge for the so called ‘extras', including up to €34 per checked bag, up to €57 for sports equipment or musical instruments, €3.50 for priority boarding and €40 to change a flight. There is even talk of charging people to go to toilet in-flight!

Budget Airlines in general have made a good job in the past decade of offering passengers choice, by de-bundling the flight cost and letting the passenger decide what they pay for, such as food & drink, priority boarding, check-in luggage etc. This latest move of Ryanair effectively eliminates choice by forcing people to check-in online whatever their circumstance and to make them pay for an online check-in also which is a totally new invented fee, which is simply petty and breeds negativity.

In conclusion, before flying with Ryanair, we advise you to add up all the real costs carefully including these new ones along with the potential of negative penalties, as its quite likely you could be paying more to be a loss less comfortable! Moreover, we trust that Easyjet, AirAsia, Air Berlin, Blue Air, Air Arabia and the other Budget lines do not follow this negative move too, as that would be a dark day for international travel.