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22 Jul 2021

Ryanair's extra costs for Zero Change Fee flights infuriate passengers

Customers who thought they would be able to change dates for free find they have to pay extra to rebook luggage, priority boarding and fast track security clearance
Woman on the phone distressed

Ryanair customers report being asked to pay large fees when they rebook flights this summer, despite the airline advertising a Zero Change Fee policy.

One passenger said that when they went to try and rebook, they were told they'd need to find another £42 for luggage and priority boarding, despite the cost of the flight on the new date being considerably cheaper.

Another reported an additional £20 being added to the cost of a suitcase if they wanted to rebook. This was despite having already paid £80 for the case. There was no explanation for why they would have to pay more.

When they checked how much it would cost to take the suitcase if they'd made a new booking it was still £80.

There were also extra fees quoted for priority boarding (£12) and fast-track security clearance (£2.25) on top of what they had already paid.

Ryanair Zero Change Fee policy

The airline says that for bookings made after 10 June and before 30 September there are no flight change fees if you rebook more than seven days before your flight.

Customers do, however, pay more when flights on new dates are more expensive. If the new dates are less expensive, Ryanair doesn't refund the difference. Ryanair also says passengers will pay more if extras such as luggage or priority boarding are more expensive on the new flight.

But customers have complained that they've been charged extra for bags or 'priority boarding', with no clear explanation as to the reason for the increased charge.

Ryanair customer services contradict official policy.

One customer, Mark Ball, had a flight booked to Poland for £148, and when he attempted to change it for a flight that was much cheaper he accepted that the airline wouldn't refund him the difference.

However, he was astonished to be told that he'd have to pay another £42 for luggage and priority boarding for which he'd already paid.

After long, contradictory discussions with Ryanair's customer service team on livechat, he was eventually told that luggage was more expensive for rebookings than on new bookings. He was told: 'When passengers make a new booking, bags are added at a low price (a discount applies on them), but when passengers change a flight bags are added at full price and you have to pay the difference.'

Other livechat assistants also said that luggage is more expensive for rebookings than new bookings.

Priority boarding costs soar

A third customer, Charles Parkes, was made to pay £28 extra on top of what he had already paid for Ryanair's priority boarding and two cabin bags. This is the fee the airline charges to allow passengers to take the typical sized wheelie suitcase into the cabin, along with a smaller bag.

'I can't understand how they can charge me extra for something I had already bought,' he told us.

Ryanair said that while priority boarding had only been £12 (return) on his original flights, it was £40 (return) on the new flights.

We checked his dates and were quoted £12 - not £40 - for priority boarding on a new booking, suggesting that the increased fees only apply when changing your booking.

Ryanair response

Ryanair denies that it charges additional fees for luggage and other 'extras' when customers rebook. It didn't explain why its customer service team had said the opposite.

It said that it wasn't able to look into the first two case studies mentioned above, as they decided not to change because of the extra costs and therefore didn't have a reference number for a new booking.

It said: 'Ryanair's zero change fee policy applies no change fee to flight changes. Only differences in fares or ancillary services are payable, and only if these are higher on the changed flight.'

Flexible bookings

Most airlines are offering flexible booking for the summer and some beyond. These will be particularly important for the hundreds of thousands of people likely to be told to self-isolate by Test and Trace.

Many of the better holiday companies also offer flexible holiday bookings. These are likely to provide better protection if you can no longer travel to your destination because of restrictions there or in the UK.