Ryanair have announced their new cabin baggage policy, which will come in to effect on all flights from January 15th 2018. They had originally planned to introduce the new rules from November 1st 2017, but have now had to delay their application. The changes are in response to a growing problem on most carriers – a lack of overhead locker space on flights, which can cause delays in the boarding process. Here’s your guide to what is changing and what you can do to adapt.
- No changes to the size of the carry on bags you can take. Passengers can still take 1 large carry on bag (55x40x20cm) and one small underseat bag (35x20x20cm) free of charge
- If the passenger wishes to take their larger carry on bag in to the aircraft cabin with them, they must pay £5 for priority boarding – Otherwise it will go in to the aircraft hold
- Passengers are still able to take a small underseat bag in to the cabin free of charge
No changes to hand luggage sizes
The first thing to note is that the fundamental size of what you can take on a flight with you for free is not changing – Those cabin bags you’ve been using on Ryanair for the past few years will still be accepted. Since 2014, Ryanair has allowed all passengers to take one small under seat bag (35x20x20cm) and one large carry on bag (55x40x20cm) on their flights for free. This actually gives Ryanair one of the largest free carry on allowances of any airline, with passengers allowed to take a potential 58 litres of luggage with them for free – a handy allowance considering how much it costs to check in a suitcase.
What is changing?
In basic terms, the only thing that is changing is where your large cabin bag will be put whilst you fly. Passengers who do not wish to pay an extra £5 fee for priority boarding will have their large cabin bag placed in the aircraft hold (free of charge) rather than being able to take it with them into the aircraft cabin as before.
These ‘non-priority’ passengers will most likely have their large cabin bag tagged by Ryanair staff at the airport gate and then taken off them once they have carried it to the aircraft steps to be placed in the hold. On arrival, these bags will be available to pick up at the airport baggage carousel.
If you’d rather keep your larger cabin bag with you during the flight, you’ll now need to pay for priority boarding at the cost of £5 (or be a Plus, Flexi Plus & Family Plus Traveller – all additional cost options).
There are no changes to the policy regarding the 35x20x20cm under seat bag – whether you choose to purchase priority boarding or not, you’ll still be allowed to take this under seat bag with you in to the aircraft cabin.
How will this affect me?
It depends what type of traveller you are – If you just want the cheapest possible price and don’t mind how many hoops the airline makes you jump through to get that, then there’s no reason to pay to keep your large bag with you. Similarly, we’ve spoken to parents who were positively gleeful at the prospect of not having lug a family size load of hand luggage on to the plane and stow it, preferring to leave it in the hold whilst they fly. Some people, it seems, are quite happy to fly hands free. If this works for you, embrace it!
Conversely, it is likely that passengers who wish to keep valuable or fragile items like laptops with them during a flight will be tempted to pay the extra £5 to ensure they can keep their items close to hand. Airline baggage handlers have a poor reputation for respecting your belongings, so if you have something that needs a delicate touch to get it from A to B, we’d advise paying to keep it with you in the aircraft cabin.
It is also worth mentioning that travellers who want to escape the airport quickly upon arrival, rather than wait for their bags to appear on the carousel may wish to pay to keep their larger carry on bag with them. Ryanair states that 90% of the time a passenger’s luggage will be on the baggage carousel by the time they have been through passport control – this remains to be seen, but we’d be doubtful that people flying on domestic services (where border control is not applicable) would be able to walk off the plane and immediately pick up their bag.
Tips for stress-free flying under these new rules
A surprising number of people don’t take full advantage of Ryanair’s hand luggage allowance. If you aren’t willing to pay to keep your large carry on bag with you but you’d still like a place to store some valuables, an under seat stowaway bag like the Arezzo or Oxford Stowaway is specifically designed to fit this 35x20x20cm allowance. These bags are surprisingly spacious and will easily hold an iPad or small laptop, as well as a selection of magazines and snacks. Some people also use them to take an additional pair of shoes, or a rolled up coat along with them too.
Similarly, luggage sets like the Copenhagen and Nettuno offer the practicality and convenience of one large carry on bag suitable for Ryanair, with an additional smaller carry on suitable for their under seat bag regulations too.
Advice for Cabin Trollies and Cabin Backpacks
Whether your large cabin bag is a trolley or a backpack, we’d advise taking a couple of basic steps if you plan on letting Ryanair put it in the hold.
Lock your bag with a TSA lock
You should be using a TSA lock, whether your bag is going in to the hold or not, but seeing as you will be away from your bag for some time, we think it would be imperative to put one on all items that are going in to the aircraft hold.
Mark your bag
Just as with checked luggage, many cabin bags can look very similar. Mark yours out with something distinctive to you, whether it is a luggage tag, ribbons, stickers or sewn on patches. This will also help to identify your bag should it be lost in transit –as you are taking the bag to the aircraft steps yourself, the chances of it getting lost are greatly reduced, but you can never be too safe where travel is concerned.
Advice for travelling with a cabin backpack
We still think that travelling with a cabin backpack is the best way to get through the airport and beyond smoothly. As such, if you aren’t travelling with fragile items, there’s no reason why a cabin backpack can’t go in to the hold – many offer padded sides and packaway backpack straps. We would recommend wrapping items like phone chargers inside a pair of socks to offer some basic protection. Similarly, we’d advise transferring anything especially fragile to your compatible under seat bag – things like cameras would be better in your custody than in the aircraft hold. Similarly, take your toiletries bag with you in your smaller under seat bag in case these items get squashed and leak in the aircraft hold.
If you have cabin backpack with packaway straps, we’d advise tucking them away in the rear of the bag to avoid them snagging on the airport conveyor belt system when you arrive at your destination. If your bag doesn’t have packaway straps, try to minimize your straps from dangling by pulling them as tight as they will go and tying the remainder of the straps together as in the picture below.
Similarly, make sure you fasten any exterior compression straps fully, and tuck away any other dangling or protruding elements as best as possible to avoid them snagging on the conveyor belt system. Just taking a few seconds to make the backpack more compact can ensure it will be safe outside of your hands.
No need to panic
These new rules may suit your style of travel or not – much like Ryanair themselves. For all those annoyed at Ryanair for adding another optional charge to their list, there are some who will be happy to avoid the battle to get their luggage in to the overhead locker. The important thing to remember is that Ryanair’s changes are in response to a growing problem for airlines as a whole – overhead locker overcrowding. An increasing number of airlines are now only guaranteeing that the first 90 large carry on bags will make it in to the aircraft cabin so Ryanair’s decision to start charging for the privilege is no surprise. Ryanair may have caught the headlines but it is worth noting that Jet2 have recently adopted a less publicised £2.59 fee should you wish to guarantee that your hand luggage makes it to the aircraft cabin, but unlike Ryanair, they do not allow you to take a smaller underseat bag on board as well. The positive to take from this decision is that whilst airlines like Flybe have reduced their carry on allowance significantly in recent years, Ryanair’s policy fundamentally allows you to take the same amount of hand luggage with you for free as they did before – the only thing that has changed is where this luggage is placed whilst you travel.