The General Directorate of Consumer Affairs of the Balearic Islands has imposed a 24,000 euro fine on Ryanair for the practice of charging for hand luggage that passengers bring into the cabin, following a campaign by the FACUA-Consumers in Action association.
The association denounced this practice in November 2019 before the seventeen regional consumer protection authorities. Subsequently, in March 2021, the General Directorate of Balearic Consumer Affairs informed the association that it had opened a sanctioning file against the airline for this reason, considering that charging this supplement could entail an infringement of consumer regulations.
Now, the directorate has confirmed the imposition of a penalty of 24,000 euro on Ryanair by verifying that it actually committed a serious offense in terms of consumer and user protection.
In 2018, the airline has changed its free carry-on baggage policy and started applying a financial surcharge. The only passengers exempt from this payment are those who have purchased their tickets with the Priority Boarding fare which, with an added price, allows them to continue boarding the plane with the two pieces of luggage and carry both in the cabin. The rest of the passengers are charged for all the packages that board the plane and that exceed 25x20x40.
In its resolution, the Balearic Administration considers that the inclusion of a clause that enables the collection of a surcharge for carrying hand luggage into the cabin of the plane should be reported as an abusive practice. Thus, it points out that several court rulings have ruled that hand luggage is not considered luggage and that the carrier is obliged to carry it free of charge in the cabin.
Similarly, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) points out in case C-487/12 that ” unchecked luggage or hand luggage ” is considered an ” indispensable element of air transport “, for which the company ” is obliged to transport it without being able to demand any type of supplement or extra cost “.
In addition, the Air Navigation Law itself, in its article 97, states that ” the carrier will be obliged to transport free of charge in the cabin, as hand luggage, the objects and packages that the traveller carries with him “. It only contemplates as exceptions ” safety reasons, linked to the weight or size of the object in relation to the characteristics of the aircraft “.
Due to this non-compliance, the General Directorate of Consumer Affairs of the Balearic Islands has decided to impose on Ryanair the commission of a serious infraction in its maximum degree -according to what is established in the autonomous regulations for the protection of consumers- due to the concurrence of a series of aggravating factors: repetition of the offending conduct and the existence of a high volume of sales and provision of services.
Thus, the Balearic regulations contemplate fines of 4,500.01 euro to 24,000 euro for serious infractions. By imposing the sanction to its maximum degree, Consumption of the Balearic Islands has finally decided to set the amount at the upper limit: 24,000 euro.
Ryanair can still file a contentious-administrative appeal in court against this resolution.