It is very difficult to say how many times was RyanAir in court in the last few years, each time losing the case while making more money
Last Friday saw Ryanair in court again -, this time the Supreme Court of Spain that ruled on a specific Ryanair baggage policy that allows the airline to send passenger baggage on another flight. The legal body declared it null and void because the airline’s policy and justifications were too generic and vague. One of the airline’s other clauses was also deemed “abusive” by the court.
The culprit was a clause hidden in the fine print of its tickets that allows the airline to send passenger bags and suitcases on flights other than the passenger’s own.
Many have criticized the airline’s policy, with the Spanish consumer group Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU) leading the charge. The OCU emphasized the airline’s legal language and its overly broad justification for allowing the practice. In this case, it is said that for “safety or operational reasons”, the airline may send the bags on a different flight.
Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reported that the court has sided with the OCU, ruling that the policy cannot be left “to the will of the carrier to move (or not move) the checked baggage on the same flight under the invocation of vague and absolutely unspecific circumstances of safety or operability.”
But, that was not the only issue the court had with RyanAir. The court also had something to say about famous Ryanair’s clause 2.4, which concerns “Governing law and jurisdiction.”
This clause is as follows: “Except as otherwise provided by the Convention or applicable law, your contract of carriage with us, these Terms & Conditions of Carriage and our Regulations shall be governed by and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Ireland and any dispute arising out of or in connection with this contract shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the Irish Courts.”
This condition was deemed “abusive” by the court because it “creates a significant imbalance between the rights and obligations” of customers and the airline. The court went on to say that this clause precludes the consumer from pursuing legal actions or remedies, as they would have to conduct their own research on Irish law content.
According to the court, under EU law, Spanish law would apply if the consumer resides in Spain and the origin or destination is also in the country. According to the Supreme Court, the Ryanair clause is “incomplete,” leading the consumer to believe that only Irish law applies to the contract while failing to inform them that there are guaranteed protections under passenger air transport law.
On the same day, the Spanish Supreme Court heard appeals from the OCU and Ryanair concerning a 2017 court decision on other Ryanair clauses. As a result, the Supreme Court clearly stated that the airline’s 40 euro ($47) charge for reprinting a boarding pass was disproportionate.
This is not the first time that Ryanair’s baggage policy has been challenged in court. Ryanair was fined €13 million in Italy in March 2019 for “deceiving” customers with fares that do not reflect the full price and necessitate additional purchases.
Although the fine was later rescinded, it demonstrates a trend in which Ryanair’s cabin bag policy attracts a lot of unwanted attention. And the list of court cases goes on and on, with the airline losing most of them.
But if they receive so many hefty fines, is it worth it? Well, The Telegraph published a study by IdeaWorksCompany which states that Ryanair made more than €3.1 billion in 2018 from extra baggage and seat selection fees. This is more than any other airline, excluding the main US carriers, and certainly explains why the airline is reluctant to change its policy, and doesn´t mind court cases.