Ryanair Bans ‘Wheelies’ in Cabin for Non-Priority Passengers

(Bloomberg) -- Ryanair Holdings Plc is locking the cabin door on traditional carry-on suitcases for its non-priority customers and forcing them to check the luggage for a fee -- or go with a smaller bag -- to save time loading passengers on and off flights.

Starting Nov. 1, Europe’s biggest discount airline will only allow travelers who pay for priority boarding to bring the so-called wheelies -- the wheeled suitcases created to fit in overhead bins -- on board along with a smaller item, it said Thursday. Non-priority customers can only bring the smaller bag, typically a handbag, backpack or laptop bag, onto the flight.

Traditional-size carry-ons, the larger of the two bags most airline passengers can now bring in the cabin, will be relegated to the hold and cost 8 pounds ($10.26) for non-priority customers to stow, Ryanair said. The Dublin-based airline said the move is aimed at speeding the boarding process and limiting flight delays. The company, known as the most efficient operator in the industry, relies on quick turnarounds to squeeze profit out of its tight schedule of cheap flights.

Ryanair billed the decision as a way to lower checked-bag fees by introducing a smaller and less-expensive category of checked baggage. It’ll cost 8 pounds for non-priority and 6 pounds for priority customers at the time of booking to check luggage weighing up to 10 kilograms (22 pounds). Currently the cost is 25 pounds to check any bag weighing up to 20 kilograms.


Crammed Bins

The company said it doesn’t expect to make more money from the change, though analysts at Goodbody Stockbrokers forecast the move will add about 125 million euros to Ryanair’s sales through the remainder of this financial year, raising its estimate by 1.6 percent.

Ryanair has atypically boasted one of the most generous carry-on allowances among low-cost discounters, previously allowing passengers bring two bags in the cabin. Last year, the carrier changed those rules and required passengers to place the bigger of two bags in the hold -- free of charge -- after struggling to meet its 25-minute “turnaround” target as crew tried to pack excessive luggage in limited overhead bin space.

The latest change makes its policy more restrictive than even EasyJet Plc, which has been steadfastly committed to a one-bag rule, with staff forcing passengers to squeeze smaller handbags and camera bags inside before boarding. The Luton, England-based airline introduced its own “hands-free” option last year allowing customers to pay 4 euros to check a cabin bag into the aircraft’s hold before passing through security.

Sixty percent of customers will be unaffected by Ryanair’s new policy, because they either pay for priority boarding already or travel with only a small bag, according to Chief Marketing Officer Kenny Jacobs.

“We expect that the other 40 percent will either choose to buy priority boarding or a 10 kilogram check bag, or will choose to travel with only one (free) small bag,” he said in a statement. Ryanair said it’s also increasing the size of the smaller category of carry-on bags by 40 percent.

Old

New

Priority

- 1 free ‘wheelie’
- 1 smaller bag
- 1 free ‘wheelie’
- 1 smaller bag
- checked bag up to 10kg for £6 fee

Non-Priority

- 1 free ‘wheelie’
- 1  smaller bag up to 35x20x20cm
- 1 free bag up to 40x20x25cm
- checked bag up to 10kg for £8 fee

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.