Ryanair and Wizz Air add a new luggage charge this week
Budget airlines Ryanair and Wizz Air will force you to pay a fee to fly with a standard hand-luggage size bag from Thursday 1 November.
At the moment, if you don't pay for priority boarding, both airlines let you take one 10kg wheelie bag free of charge through security, but not onto the plane – it is tagged at the gate and put in the hold at no extra charge.
Yet from Thursday, you must pay for priority boarding to take it onto the plane, or if you want to put it in the hold, you must pay for it like any other bags you check in – full prices below. The only luggage you can take into the cabin at no extra charge is a small item such as a handbag or laptop bag.
It's the second change in hand luggage policy in 2018 for both airlines.
Update 3pm, Thu 1 Nov: The new rules have caused some confusion in check-in lines today, and there are reports of Ryanair staff being lenient over their enforcement as a result. A Ryanair spokesperson told us: “While our new bag policy has come into effect today, we have briefed our gate agents to take a reasonable approach while customers get used to the new rules."
How Ryanair's new hand-luggage rules work
Here's how Ryanair's rules will change from Thursday 1 November:
- Non-priority customers can only take one small bag into the cabin for free. This must go under the seat in front of you – the maximum dimensions are 40cm x 20cm x 25cm (a small increase from the current 35cm x 20cm x 20cm). You'll no longer be able to put a second bag in the hold for free.
Confusingly, Ryanair says its bag sizer – the box used to measure bags at the airport – will be increased to 42cm x 20cm x 30cm. This is slightly bigger than the permitted size for the free bag, suggesting there is some wiggle room. But it's best not to take any chances at the airport, because if your bag is too big (or if you forget about the rule change and accidentally take a second bag to the gate), you'll have to pay £25 to put it in the hold.
- Customers who pay at least £6 for priority boarding will see no change, except the maximum dimensions permitted for their smaller bag will increase to 40cm x 20cm x 25cm. They can continue to take two free carry-on bags (one 10kg bag and one small bag) into the cabin. Priority boarding costs £6 at the time of booking, or you can add it afterwards for £8.
- So if you need to take a larger bag weighing up to 10kg, you can pay for priority boarding or pay to check your bag in instead. Checking luggage costs £8 at the time of booking or £10 to add it online after. It's £20 if you wait till the check-in desk, or £25 if you get to the gate and have to put your bag in the hold.
Here's a quick video recapping the changes and showing what size bag you can still take on board for free:
What if I've already booked a Ryanair flight?
Ryanair originally said the changes applied to those who had already booked flights, and passengers were given the option to pay extra or cancel their booking for a refund. But it's since backtracked and allowed some two million passengers who'd already booked flights to check in a 10kg bag for free. So:
- Booked on or before 31 August as a non-priority customer? If your flight's on or after 1 November you should have had a free 10kg checked bag added to your booking.
- Booked on or before 31 August and bought priority boarding since 1 September? If your flight's on or after 1 November you should have had the cost of priority boarding refunded, though you still get the benefits of priority boarding.
How Wizz Air's new hand-luggage rules work
These changes mirror Ryanair's, although the exact prices and dimensions allowed are different. So from Thursday 1 November:
- Non-priority customers can only take one small bag into the cabin for free. This must be smaller than 40cm x 30cm x 20cm. Any bag larger than this must be put in the hold, but this will no longer be free – if the bag weighs less than 10kg, it'll cost at least €7 (£6), more in peak season.
- Customers who've paid at least £4 for 'Wizz Priority' will see no change. You can take a small wheelie suitcase (which must weigh less than 10kg and be smaller than 55cm x 40cm x 23cm) on board for no extra charge, as well as a smaller piece of hand luggage of up to 40cm x 30cm x 20cm.
Wizz Priority costs between €5 and €15 (£4 and £13) if you add it to your booking online or over the phone, or €25 (£22) at the airport.
- So if you need to take a larger bag weighing up to 10kg, you can pay for priority boarding or pay for it as checked luggage instead. That costs between €7 and €12 (£6 and £11) at the time of booking.
What if I've already booked a Wizz Air flight?
If you made a booking before 10 October to travel after the new rules come in on 1 November, you'll be able to take a 10kg checked bag for free. If your booking included a checked bag, you'll be upgraded to Wizz Priority for free – this includes a 10kg bag (which can be taken into the cabin), as well as priority check-in and boarding.
If you booked after 10 October and your flight is after 1 November, you'll need to pay if you want to take a 10kg checked bag, online in advance or at the airport.
Haven't they already changed their policies this year?
At the start of the year Ryanair changed its hand luggage allowance so while you could still take a wheelie bag through security you could only take it on the plane with you if you paid for priority boarding.
But it didn't compel you to pay this fee as you could leave it at the gate and it would be stored for free in the hold. Ryanair also allowed you to take a small bag on for free. Wizz Air made a similar change in June, though it only allowed passengers one bag in total through security – if small it could come with you on the plane, if big it went into the hold for free.