“Avoid additional fees,” the e-mail from Ryanair said. Oh yes, I like avoiding fees. Especially after already having paid the advertised price for a flight, another fee for a bag, a fee for airport security, a fee for fuel, a fee for booking and a fee for payment.
So I go online where I need to “check in”, which is kind of silly because I will still have to do that at the airport as I have a bag. I don’t understand why travelers should try to squeeze as much of their luggage into the cabin as they can. The plane has a huge hold, there is plenty of space, nobody is going to steal your bag while you’re above the Mediterranean. I feel most relaxed when boarding a plane with nothing more than a book in my hand.
I also don’t understand what is the extra benefit of “checking in” when I have already bought and paid a ticket. Surely Ryanair has a list of people who are supposed to be on that plane that day, for otherwise every hobo could “check in”.
But, if I don’t, I am warned that I will have to pay 70 € at the airport. That would be much, given that my whole return flight with luggage from Bari to Cagliari didn’t cost much more than that.
So I go online and provide lots of information. I still don’t get it why somebody needs my passport details when I fly within one country. Once more I have to decline all these annoying offers for travel insurance, lottery tickets, cars and hotels.
But buying a flight and “checking in” is still not enough. Now I need to print the check-in confirmation myself and take it to the airport with me, for otherwise I shall be obliged to pay a fee of 15 € to have one A4 paper printed at the airport. That Ryanair could print the boarding pass shows that they do have all the information right there, so they wouldn’t really need me going through all of this hassle. And isn’t ironic that an airline which prides itself on being low-cost can’t print a black-and-white page for less than 15 €?
So far, none of this is unexpected. I knew it and I grudgingly accepted it because Ryanair are cheaper than Alitalia or a ferry, and thus I really don’t have a right to complain. I know that you can’t get cheap, fast and good service at the same time.
But now to the part which does annoy me: when “checking in”, I would like to carry out the same procedure for my return flight of course. I don’t want to pay an extra 70 € in a week either. – But I can’t! Oddly, Ryanair allows you to pay for your flight months in advance, but you cannot “check in” more than 7 days in advance.
But what I can do more than 7 days in advance is to pay for a seat. Another 5 or 15 €, which I really don’t want to spend because I am quite confident that there will be a seat waiting for me anyway. I am an experienced traveler after all, and I rarely had to stand or lie in the aisle during a flight.
Now I have three options:
- Pay an extra 5 or 15 € for a seat, while I already thought that a seat was included in the price.
- Do nothing and pay 70 € extra when I wish to board the return flight.
- Try to find an internet café while on Sardinia and print out another piece of paper.
I am a stingy scrooge, so I am most likely to choose the third option. In fact, I will even try to save the money for an internet café by asking one of the hotels where I will be staying to print it for me. – But, I have been on holidays where I wouldn’t have had any chance to do either because I was hiking in the wilderness all week.
Making customers who have paid the advertised price for a service go through unnecessary extra steps to avoid excessive fees and then preventing them from taking these steps in some cases seems to me like a perfect example for a contractual clause which is invalid under consumer protection law.