Ryanair passengers who refuse to pay in advance for a seat are being forced to queue in airports to pick up their boarding cards.
The airline has been under fire this week after it emerged that some passengers who do not pay for reserved seats had to queue for boarding passes.
Until now, passengers who did not buy a seat in advance were allocated one randomly when they checked in online before a boarding card was generated for printing or downloading to an online wallet.
However, the airline has recently changed that process without any public notification.
One Ryanair passenger said he had to queue for about 20 minutes in Stansted Airport for a boarding pass. The passenger paid £180 for a flight from Stansted to Dublin and had to queue in the London airport for a boarding pass as they did not pay to reserve a seat.
When the individual checked in online, they opted for a randomly selected seat, a service for which Ryanair does not charge.
Once they requested their boarding pass at the end of the process, they received a message saying: “This is not a mobile boarding pass, you must collect your boarding pass at the airport check-in desk”.
They estimated that they had to queue 15-20 minutes at the airport to get their printed boarding pass.
Ryanair introduced this procedure recently, sparking reports that the carrier was attempting to charge for boarding passes or to prompt more passengers to pay for seats. However, the airline pointed out that it did not charge for digital boarding passes.
“All Ryanair passengers can pay for a reserved seat if they so wish or, if passengers wish to avoid this seat fee, they can select a randomly allocated seat entirely free of charge,” said the airline.
Ryanair charges €8-€21 to reserve seats, asking more for “legroom” seats at emergency exits or at the front of the aircraft.
It has three fares: basic, which allows the passenger one small on-board bag; regular, which includes a 10kg bag that can be stowed overhead; and plus, which includes a 20kg check-in bag. The airline maintains that it has to charge for extras to keep fares low.