Ryanair Will Abolish Checked Luggage to Reduce Costs

Europe’s largest rip-off airline, will soon bar passengers from travelling with anything other than hand luggage.

Ryanair plans to offer an “unlimited” allowance for carry-on bags that comply with government size limits while abolishing checked luggage from next spring, Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary said today. The airline anticipates savings of 20 million euros a year ($28 million).

“We’re going to move away from check-in luggage to more carry-on luggage,” O’Leary said at a press briefing in London. “This isn’t the end of civilization as we know it, it only sounds revolutionary. I can assure you it’s not.”

Ryanair is already scrapping airport check-in desks for passengers from Oct. 1, compelling people to register for flights via the Dublin-based company’s Web site. According to O’Leary’s new rule on baggage, passengers must carry all belongings onto the plane themselves and only when overhead lockers become full will items be stowed in the cargo hold.

Biggest Base

The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority said it won’t consider the case until Ryanair gives notice that it will go ahead with the change. BAA Ltd., which owns airports including London Stansted, Ryanair’s biggest U.K. base, said it will look at the proposal in more detail.

The Transport Department said it’s only responsible for size restrictions on carry-on bags, which must measure no more than 56 centimeters (22 inches) by 45 centimeters by 25 centimeters. O’Leary said at the briefing that people may no longer be able to transport items such as skis, before adding that details have yet to be finalized.

Excess Charge

Ryanair says that about 70 percent of customers already avoid checking bags. Passengers are currently allowed to carry aboard one item of luggage per trip weighing no more than 10 kilos (22 pounds). The carrier charges 20 euros to check in a bag weighing as much as 15 kilograms at the airport. It has an excess baggage charge of 15 euros per kilo, so that a 20 kilogram case costs 95 euros to stow.

BA, Europe’s third-biggest airline, said separately today that it was introducing a “Value Calculator” on its website to allow people to compare its fares with prices at Ryanair and EasyJet Plc, Europe’s No. 2 discount carrier.

Passengers can pay as much as 375 pounds ($615) in extra fees for a round trip with Ryanair and 79 pounds with EasyJet, British Airways said in a statement. As a full-service carrier, the London-based company says the price of its tickets covers free booking, ticketing, baggage check in and food and drink.

“The no-frills carriers claim they’re always cheaper,” Richard Tams, BA’s head of sales for the U.K. and Ireland, said in the statement. “Our calculator shows they are not.”

Walsh Review

Still, British Airways Chief Executive Officer Willie Walsh says in the latest edition of employee circular BA News that charging for items historically included in the ticket price is “an area we need to look at.” He said the company will stop short of short-term measures that might damage the brand.

O’Leary said today he’s also freezing capacity growth at Ryanair’s nine U.K. bases in protest at travel taxes. A 10- pound tax on each passenger is making Britain “an uncompetitive destination,” he said, adding that the charge will cost jobs and hurt tourist revenue.