Ryanair Cuts Cabin Bag Allowance… AGAIN!

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I assume a recent discussion at Ryanair HQ might have gone something along the lines of:

“Can anybody think of a good way to win back our customer’s goodwill after an already unpopular cabin bag policy change, and a seemingly never ending series of strikes, disruption and cancellations during the busy summer travel period?”

“I know! Let’s cut the free cabin baggage allowance again and start charging them for a service that was previously free!”

No more gate checking

Apparently the previous policy change isn’t working out as Ryanair expected, and the free gate checking of wheelie bags is causing delays.

Because the delays are nothing to do with the lack of pilots and cabin crew due to strikes… but Ryanair clearly underestimated just HOW frugal its customers are and passengers were perfectly willing to accept waiting for their bags on arrival rather than pay £5 to take them on board.

So things are all-change again from the 1st November 2018 for bookings made on or after 1st September 2018:

– Priority Boarding customers (currently 30%) can continue to bring 2 free carry-on bags (1 x 10kg wheelie bag and 1 small bag).

– Non-priority customers can only bring 1 free (small) carry-on bag from 1 Nov.

– If non-priority customers want to bring a 2nd bigger (wheelie) bag they can buy a lower cost 10kg check bag for €/£8 at time of booking (currently a 20kg bag costs €/£25). This 10kg wheelie bag must be checked in at the airport bag drop desk.

– All customers with checked bags can now switch from the €/£25 x20kg bag to the cheaper €/£8 x10kg checked bag.

– The new policy will go live at boarding gates on/after 1 November 2018 and for all bookings made on/after 1 September 2018.

Full details on Ryanair.com

Bigger “Small Bags”.

To compensate for the removal of free gate checking of larger bags, Ryanair are also increasing the size allowance of your “small bag” to 40 x 20 x 25cm, up from its previous allowance of 35 x 20 x 20cm.

However what also confused me slightly, is they are increasing their ‘sizers’, which they use to confirm if the bag can go aboard or not, up to 42 x 20 x 30 cm.

If your “small personal bag” doesn’t fit in the new sizer, you will be charged £25 to have it gate checked into the hold.

What does this mean?

If, like me, you already pay for Priority you won’t be affected – indeed the increased small bag allowance is a minor improvement. You will still be able to take 2 bags on board and then swoosh straight through immigration and customs on arrival.

These two look very pleased to have paid their £6 to take a wheelie bag onboard…

If you don’t want to pay the £6 (or the option is already sold out for your flight – only 30% of passengers can do so!), you now have to make a choice:

  1. Pack EVEN lighter and fit ALL your stuff into your small 40 x 20 x 25cm under-seat bag.
  2. Cough up £8 to check your 10kg wheelie case in at the check-in desk BEFORE going through security.
  3. Forget hand luggage and just pay £25 for a 20kg checked bag.
  4. Fly with someone else.

Stricter enforcement

One other thing I would watch out for is the new sizer. My recent flights on Ryanair with the free gate checking has meant the agents were too busy tagging bags to have time to care about weighing or checking the size of bags – so you could generally get away with bag slightly heavier or bigger than the stated allowances.

With this new approach, I expect the rules will, at least initially, be strictly enforced. By forcing you to go to a check-in desk they will definitely check your 10kg allowance, and gate agents will be free to check your “small bags” against the sizer during boarding. I personally would stick to the stated allowances, and NOT push it to the limits of the new sizer.

The policy also states these small bags must go under the steat in front of you, so potentially you will suffer from even less legroom if you go this route – however I’ve never really seen this enforced once on board. However – if suddenly more passengers do start paying for Priority to get their wheelie bags on-board, expect to move your small bag out of the way from the overhead lockers and have it under the seat.

Bottom line

Given the negative reaction to the previous changes, I’m not 100% certain this will actually happen in November, but it is likely to happen eventually. I think Ryanair overestimated the number of people who would pay £6 for Priority and it’s now backfired on them due to the volume of gate checking they are having to do – so now they’re forcing you to make a choice to pay up one way or the other.

Ryanair claim this is about delays – but I don’t see EasyJet having the same issues despite having a much more generous cabin bag policy – so personally I think it is about money (how cynical!).

This could lead to increased queues at bag drop, so you might want to arrive a little earlier than usual if you are travelling when it comes into force.

It’s also potentially marketing gold for the likes of EasyJet and Jet2 – although if it succeeds there is a risk they will follow suit. A similar policy seems very successful for the Ultra Low Cost airline Spirit in the USA.

The only positive I could see is by going back to checking luggage by default and accepting it as a cost of your trip, it may reduce the hassle of going through security and means you can bring back plenty of extra souvenirs…!


  1. Mike G says

    I flew Ryanair a lot for work, and for leisure, and the previous previous luggage policy of two bags was just getting crazy. The revised policy worked well, boarding was hassle free and plenty of space in the overhead lockers.

    This latest change will mean we have to buy luggage every time we travel with Ryanair. I will do my best to avoid them, as these hidden charges often outstrip the notional cost of the flight.

    • RichT says

      I always factor in £12 for priority and £30 for exit row seats PP return when looking for flights.

      Its easy to see why for London based fliers BAEC can be worth chasing status in. For me the maths can sometimes tip in Ryanair’s favour given the convenience of flying from my local airport… But only when the initial fare is under £50!

      • Joe Deeney says

        You’re getting fancy Rich! – Exit row seats indeed! 😉

        This does remind me though to run the numbers again for a ‘DIY Club Europe on LCCs’ post. I suspect EasyJet would come out top, based primarily on the fact you can buy a half bottle of Piper-Heidsieck at a reasonable price (£16ish I think).

    • Joe Deeney says

      Hi Mike – I might have misread Rich’s post, but my understanding is that if you pay the £6 for ‘Priority’ nothing really changes from the current policy (except you now can take a 2nd bag which is slightly larger than before). I certainly agree that I’d rather not pay the extra £6, but given Ryanair fares and the convenience for me personally (Leeds and Manchester being my nearest airports), I have been already for a while.

      I’m probably a bit atypical though as I don’t mind travelling light and really hate having to wait for my bag! – so I’d probably pay £6 just to avoid the carousel of doom anyway.

  2. Will says

    Knew they were going to do something like this.

    Most delays at present are due to planes leaving Europe late and then having knock-on effects rather than passenger boarding and bags.
    It’s a blame game with Ryanair, with the gate agents trying to board everyone (or at least scan them through and queue them down the stairs) so that it’s now the ground staff’s fault should the plane leave late.

    There’s way too much hand luggage in my opinion. Even with half the flight paying for priority, the gate staff have to yellow tag perhaps up to 100 bags in what could be a few minutes depending on whether the plane is on time, late, gated late etc. Not helped by the fact that airports want more machines used rather than check-in desks and Ryanair’s latest “if you pay for a 20kg hold bag, everyone on that booking can check a piece of cabin baggage free” can’t be done on the machines and with no staff on the desks / understaffing on the floor, it still goes to the gate to be tagged.

    Some flights have 90% of the flight travelling with hand luggage as it’s not worth paying up to £50 for a 20kg case for 40 minutes or so.

    Half the time, the baggage sizes are flexible anyway. Ok, so a 26″ rollaboard isn’t going to be accepted into the cabin, but a smallish backpack that doesn’t quite fit into the sizer should be fine. Same with kids’ Trunkies etc. Rarely have I seen those get tagged even though they’re hard cases and if you’re non-priority, these wheeled cases get tagged at the gate regardless.

  3. Pam durose says

    Ryanair have increased the size of the under seat bag. Out of curiosity I have looked everywhere online and failed to find any bag that matches that size. If anyone knows of one I would like to know about it.

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