It’s pretty much a given that Ryanair will charge an extra fee for anything and everything it can think of, but I got a look today at how predatory that airline’s practices really are.
Some relatives got an email this morning from Ryanair stating that they would be charged 40 euros each for boarding passes at the airport — a penalty because they had not checked in online and printed passes at least four hours before their domestic flight in Spain.
At the current exchange rate that’s $50. To print a piece of paper. (And what’s with the four-hour cutoff?)
This outrageous fee is an official Ryanair policy. (See Ryanair’s amazing table of fees.) And you might argue that my relatives should have known about it. But when’s the last time you read all the fine print and the contract of carriage when you bought an airline ticket?
They were not naive about Ryanair. They knew that its advertised fares are deliberately misleading, and that they would have to pay administrative fees as well. They knew the checked bag fees are among the highest in the industry. They weren’t surprised that Ryanair performed a currency conversion at an unfavorable rate, just to suck a few more bucks out of them when they bought the tickets online. They wouldn’t even have been surprised if Ryanair charged a few euros to print the boarding passes, which they had not been able to print at the hotel where they were staying.
But $50? That’s simply not justifiable. It goes way beyond the casual opportunistic overcharging now common throughout the industry. No reputable airline charges even one dime for a boarding pass, ever.
My relatives managed to argue their way out of the fee, somehow, and the flight proceeded to get them where they were going. Ultimately, they paid a bit less than they would have on another airline. But was it worth the bother and angst? I say no.
Their experience reminded me why I refuse to fly Ryanair and its imitators in the United States. These airlines don’t have customers. They have prey. I don’t want to think that the people I’m doing business with are just waiting for me to stumble or look the other way so they can pick my pocket.