Desperate Stuff from Ryanair…

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A little while ago I wrote about my experience of Ryanair’s new seating policy, which the airline continues to imply isn’t a new policy at all.

The crux of the issue is that many passengers believe that the airline is now deliberately splitting up travel companions in a bid to get more passengers to pay to select seats next to each other. Ryanair disputes this and claims there hasn’t been a recent change of policy.

Meanwhile, the stories just keep getting ever more absurd, with MoneySavingExpert publicising an absolute classic of the genre last week,

“A hen party has hit out at Ryanair’s controversial ‘random seat allocation’ policy after the budget airline seated the 15 passengers in the group in 15 separate rows.

The group, due to fly from Birmingham to Ibiza on Thursday (22 June), had decided not to pay an extra fee to choose where to sit. But they were furious to discover when checking in four days before the flight that they had been assigned seats spanning most of the length of the aircraft, with two of them put 27 rows apart.”

I mean, I guess that could just be bad luck right? Or, perhaps, not.

Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, Ryanair is still sticking to the official line.  I fired off a quick email and here’s the response I got,

Thank you for contacting Ryanair.

We regret to hear the dissatisfaction you have encountered with one of your reservation made with Ryanair.

In relation to your recent correspondence I would like to inform you t​hat with the free randomly allocated seat option it is not guaranteed that the passengers in the same booking will be seated together, even if they check in at the same time. Please be advised there is a text notification on the screen during the check-in about this.

Our seating algorithm has not changed in the past months, but many discounted seats were offered to our customers who wanted to make sure that they are allocated together. 

All Ryanair agents are obliged to bound to our policy, and sadly as you have accepted the fact during the randomly allocated seating option that you may not sit next to each other, we can not waive the fee of the reserved seating. This service is suggested various times during the booking process and later during the online check-in.

Furthermore, the only change that was implemented in the past few weeks that customers who are unhappy with their received seats can change it on our website, usually from 6 GBP / EUR / Seat, unlike the previous policy, when they could only change them over the Reservation Center for a more expensive price. 

You can easily change the seats you have if you have already checked in. Please, log into your account or retrieve your booking. Inside the “manage booking” page you will have to select “view boarding passes”. Once you have done that, you will see the following picture which will show you the seat map, where you can change your seats:

I trust this has clarified our position on the matter.

I think Ryanair’s position is pretty clear –  if deeply disingenuous. I’m still yet to see a complete and unequivocal denial that nothing whatsoever has changed in the last 6 months in terms of how seats are assigned. The reason that denial hasn’t been made is because something clearly has changed. Ryanair is extremely keen to imply that nothing has changed, but the claims the company makes are actually quite specific if you read closely – no doubt leaving plenty of legal wriggle-room.

If you’re wondering whether this really might just be a bunch of unfortunate anecdotes, Oxford University’s Statistical Consultancy Director, Dr Jennifer Rogers, had a look at the numbers and determined that, statistically speaking, passengers have more chance of winning the National Lottery jackpot, than Ryanair’s official line being correct.

Bottom line

From a marketing perspective, the furore is probably just a characteristically shrewd move by Ryanair – here we are (again!) talking about how cheap the airline is, and that’s the one essential thing that Ryanair wants everyone to know.

Far more importantly though, none of this is going to do much to help me get my esteemed colleague Craig on a Ryanair flight for the first time…

Come on O’Leary – stop laughing for a minute and help me out here!


  1. James says

    It probably was always policy just not enforced so much – so they can say it’s not a recent policy change without lying !!!!
    Had all 15 seats been booked under the same booking ?
    Had all of the people sat next to them deliberately selected their seats ? If not then this is very deliberately splitting up the group.
    Mind you, having 15 women on a hen-do sat in a group might be rather noisy & disruptive !!!!

    • Joe Deeney says

      Yeah, it’ll be something like that.

      Indeed, 15 all on the same booking – though yep for the benefit of the other passengers it might not be such a bad thing on this occasion!

  2. Andy says

    If I were on a flight going to Ibiza and there was a stag/hen do on it I’d be glad to have them split up, especially after the last load of publicity that Ryanair got from stags and hens on the way to Ibiza (many headlines with the term “romping” should be enough for you to get the gist of the story).

  3. Alex Cruz says

    I don’t know what’s more scandalous – this story or having to pay to choose a seat in Club World in BA?

    • James says

      Have to agree with the BA comment. You pay over the odds for a substandard J seat then they have the nerve to ask for more just to select the seat.
      BA is a joke now 🙁

  4. William D says

    I really dont understand what the problem is.

    There is a random seating policy. You pay if you want to be by each other.

    • Craig Sowerby says

      I basically agree.

      When Ryanair charges silly amounts for not having a boarding pass, a slightly over-sized carry on, threatens to charge for the loo etc. etc. etc. I’m not sure why anybody expects that they would be seated next to traveling companions. Any idea to extract a few extra quid and Ryanair will be trying it on.

      And no… it wouldn’t be my first time on Ryanair… but the last time was the LAST!! time…

    • Joe Deeney says

      The issue is it’s not remotely random (see the Prof’s calculation), so Ryanair continuing to claim that it is random is a bit silly. Also, Ryanair is trying to make out that nothing has changed, but it very clearly has. I agree that if they just said, “we’ve made a change and passengers will now have to pay a small fee to sit together” it would be a non issue really.

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