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12 April 2013

Ryanair's handbag scam: the ins and outs of an airline con

My case was fine...until I had to squeeze my handbag in 
HAVE you ever stopped to think how pathetically illogical Ryanair’s Terms and Conditions are?
Every woman who has flown with the Irish cheapskates is  all too aware  that handbags must be packed into hand luggage and not carried separately.
How ludicrous is that? Every woman on the planet shorn of her most-prized possession for fully five minutes until she's allowed to pluck it from her over-stretched hand-luggage the moment she steps aboard the plane.
The reason for the ruse is patently obvious...to increase profits by imposing petty fines for trivialities.
All of which explains why some of their  airport jobsworths can’t wait to slap a £50 fine on any unfortunate lady whose handbag bulks up her 10-kilo mini-case so it won’t quite drop into the Rob-Them-Silly measuring rack.
I had the dubious pleasure of being fleeced by one of these delightful Hitlers of the Air at Alicante airport on Sunday after struggling to get my handbag into my pull-along case, which  I’d packed meticuously to ensure it complied with jobsworth rules
Handbag squeezed in uncomfortably, I duly took my place in the Priority queue. As the third person in the line, I was a sitting duck for Jobs and Worth.
‘’Does that bag fit in the rack?’ barked Jobs (a Spanish male)  as we began to file past the boarding desk towards our plane. With that, he grabbed my wheely- bag and proceeded to demonstrate that it was too wide to drop into the rack without a mighty squeeze.
“That’s purely because of the handbag,’’ I protested honestly  in a pointless attempt to escape the gallows.
Gleefully, he told me the wheely bag would now have to go into the hold - at an extortionate  cost of  50 euro - plus an extra euro if I wished to pay by credit card. The reality could not have been clearer. The ‘handbags inside your case’  rule is a clandestine way of increasing profits whilst reinforcing Ryanair’s insistence that they have the lowest fares.
It's a rule that even Ryanair staff find distasteful, unnecessary and petty. One Alicante-based cabin crew member told me this week: "It's silly that ladies have to put their handbags into their big luggage and a few minutes later, are able to remove them. I do not know what Ryanair has this rule - it's the stirictest airline regarding passengers bags.
 "Many times when I couldn't fit clothes or books in my luggage I've placed them inside jackets, under my belt or worn three sweaters. Once I got on board I removed everything and put it all into my permitted bag.''
Plebs like us are not privy to the amount Ryanair's ‘unseen’  greed machine syphons off from on-the-cheap travellers in €50 ‘handbag’ charges, changing names on tickets and correcting online booking errors.
Add this income to the stated fares, divide by the number of passengers and bingo, the ‘cheapest fares’ would become as believable as the hysterical recorded jingle that announces you have landed on time like 90 per cent of Ryanair flights.
What the jingle does NOT tell you is that the scheduled time from take-off to landing is around half an hour longer than the actual flying time.
Back at the airport, young Jobs seemed satisfied with his lone catch and oblivious to the 200 or so other passengers who filed past him with varying volumes of luggage.
Not so his partner Worth (Spanish female), who roped in an unsuspecting middle-aged couple because the husband was carrying a small rucksack on his back AND, horror of horrors, a  duty-free bag in his hand.
 It wasn’t only me who felt Worth’s manner less than acceptable. Fellow passenger Gavin White, who was behind the couple in the queue, said: “I could not believe the way she was speaking to them. She had no right to be so rude.’’
In the event the couple escaped with a warning - but  only after a nasty exchange of words in which the angry husband was threatened with eviction from the flight.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been on a Ryanair flight where there wasn’t a confrontation between a passenger and Ryanair staff,’’ said Gavin White, a regular flyer.
That's obvious. I mean, a calm, orderly boarding would be more than a jobsworth's job's worth.