No-frills airline Ryanair will simplify its fees for checked baggage in June this year as it pilots a fleet of new customer-experience initiatives – with the flat-rate fee likely to be around £30 each way.

The move means you may have to pay up to 50% more to check in bags if you're travelling at off-peak times, but if you're flying in summer you're likely to pay less. It's understood the price will be the same regardless of whether you pay online or at the airport.

Ryanair's planning the shake-up as part of the third year of its 'customer-experience improvement programme', with the changes due to be rolled out during the course of 2016.

The airline's due to slash the number of booking options for bags, from 108 to just six, and will expand its membership scheme 'My Ryanair Club', introduce customer-satisfaction surveys and allow 'one-tap' upgrades using mobile phones. For how to cut the cost of travelling with Ryanair see our new 20 Ryanair tips guide.

Flat-rate baggage fees

Ryanair currently charges different fees for each checked-in bag depending on whether it weighs up to 15kg or 20kg, whether it's a passenger's first or second bag, and whether a flight is in high or low season.

But at a press briefing today, the airline's boss Michael O'Leary said a flat fee of "probably £30" will be introduced for most bags.

This would mean a 50% increase on the existing £20 online price of checking in a 15kg bag during low season, but costs for those travelling in high season would fall – then, it currently costs £40 to put a 20kg case in the hold.

O'Leary claims the "vast majority" of Ryanair passengers who check in bags do so in high season, meaning many will pay a lower price following the introduction of the new customer-experience initiatives.

He adds that the proportion of travellers checking in bags rises to 30-35% during the summer and falls to as low as 5% in November.

O'Leary has denied the change in baggage policy was an acknowledgment that Ryanair has previously unfairly penalised families who check in multiple bags for their summer holidays.

Passengers will still have to pay higher baggage fees for longer flights, such as London to the Canary Islands, and for some domestic flights within countries such as Spain and Italy.

What other initiatives is Ryanair piloting and when are they likely to be introduced?

Ryanair's other plans for 2016 include:

  • A 'Rate My Flight' option via app, with real-time feedback and follow-up emails – available from May.
  • An extension of the membership scheme, 'My Ryanair Club', to include priority access to flight sales and other incentives, including a free return-flight if you book 12 return flights a year – available from October.
  • A new band of seating between standard economy and business class, called 'Leisure Plus', which will start from £43.99 and include reserved seating, priority boarding and an inclusive 20kg luggage allowance – available from July.
  • An extension of the 'Business Plus' seating band to include 'fast track' at most airports (ie, priority through airport security), as well as priority boarding and a two-day flexibility window – available from July.
  • Digital gift vouchers – available from November.

We'll be updating the 20 Ryanair tips guide with full details of all the changes, as well as when they'll be introduced, when we know more.

O'Leary says the shake-up is a "fundamental change" in the way Ryanair treats customers.

The Ryanair boss explains: "My approach was, you're getting the lowest fare, an on-time flight, we won't cancel and we won't lose your bags – now shut up, sit down and don't complain. That's been transformed."

Additional reporting by the Press Association.

Martin Lewis
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