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Read before booking your next Ryanair flight

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I'm like many Ryanair customers. I look for the cheapest flights available, I’d never be one of the 5% in the priority lane because who cares about getting on to a Ryanair flight 4 minutes before everyone else? And I never check-in luggage unless I’m flying long haul to another continent - which I don't do with Ryanair anyway - because time, queues, time and what could you possibly need in there?

On 15 January 2018 Ryanair got us all opening its emails with an eye grabbing subject line: hand luggage policy change. No!  

Is it worth paying for priority on Ryanair?

Well, they've really gone for it. £5 or €6 “priority”, which used to get you very little, is now the only safe way to get your normal sized hand luggage on board. The only piece of luggage you can officially take onboard without paying extra is (wait for it) 35cm x 20cm x 20cm. Get your small ruler out. That's the size of a rectangular cake bought from a super market. And it’s slightly smaller than my 13” MacBook Pro.   

When I read the new rules, I assumed Ryanair would be very strict with its new policy. I’ve flown Ryanair twice since the new policy came into force. I took a very full RiutBag X25 and, thinking I’d have to hand that in at the gate but not wanting my beloved laptop to go into the hold, I took a RiutBag Crush - a super light stuff bag - so I could carry my valuables on. My experience? Not what I expected. Here’s what happened next (in a 2 min round up):

How the Ryanair hand luggage rules work in practice and theory. 

Priority: costs £5 extra on top of your flight cost

You pay £5 to stand in the the priority queue which is allowed first on to the plane. You get to take on your large item of hand luggage and two extra small bags. 

Non-priority: just the cost of your flight

The new policy says you can take your hand luggage to the gate, but bags larger than 35cm x 20cm x 20cm (which is basically all bags) will be taken off you and put into the hold. You’ll collect them from the luggage belt once you reach your destination. But you don’t need to check them in at the check-in desk. 

Therefore, if the rules are strictly enforced, you should bring an extra bag with you to put your belongings in that you don’t want going in the hold: e.g. laptop, hard drives and other valuables you don’t want knocked about or too far from you.

Travelling Ryanair without paying for priority 

In practice flying from London Stansted and from Berlin Schoenfeld, from what I’ve seen this policy is very flexible. I was able to take my maximum carry-on RiutBag X25 (55cm x 35cm x 20cm) on to the plane both times without paying extra for priority. 

Conclusion

Pack an extra small bag - like the RiutBag Crush - in case the staff at the gate enforce the new policy with you. From what I’ve seen, I’ve travelled twice with my large hand luggage item and was able to take it on the plane without paying. So I don't think it's worth paying for the extra priority pass. Maybe it was because they liked the secure RiutBag design :) They did say the X25 was rather slim as they allowed it on the plane. 

Personally, I think Ryanair wanted to stop having arguments with angry customers who didn’t want their suitcases taken off them when they got on the flight. If that was their goal, they’ve succeeded. The planes are much calmer spaces with a lot more room on board. It was actually a much better flying experience. But I’m probably just saying that because I got to take on my large hand luggage item for free :)