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After FACUA's complaint, Balearic Islands' Government opens sanction proceedings against Ryanair for charging hand luggage fees

The company faces a serious administrative offence for imposing a surcharge on these items, contravening regional and state regulations.

After FACUA's complaint, Balearic Islands' Government opens sanction proceedings against Ryanair for charging hand luggage fees

The Directorate General for Consumer Affairs has initiated a sanctioning procedure against the airline Ryanair for charging for hand luggage, following a complaint filed by FACUA-Consumers in Action. The body considers that this charge could constitute a serious administrative infringement of regional consumer legislation. Since 2018, Ryanair has been charging for all items of luggage that travellers take into the cabin that exceed the dimensions of 25x20x40.

FACUA reported this practice to the Balearic Consumer authorities, as well as to the counterpart bodies in the other autonomous communities in November 2019 and given the inaction of state institutions such as the National Commission for Competition Markets (CNMC, according to its initials in Spanish), the State Aviation Safety Agency (AESA, according to its initials in Spanish) and the Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs and Food Safety (Aecosan), then with state Consumer Affairs competences. The Balearic Islands is the only administration so far to have responded to FACUA's complaint by opening proceedings against the company.

The Balearic Consumer Authority considers that the company includes in its Terms and Conditions of Carriage (general contract for consumers) "a clause that establishes, contravening current legislation and in a contradictory manner, limitations on the luggage that passengers can carry in the cabin: either limiting their number or volume, or making it subject to the payment of a certain amount". In the opinion of the Directorate General for Consumer Affairs, the company is in breach of the following regulations: Law 7/2014, of 23 July, on the protection of consumers and users of the Balearic Islands, Law 7/1998, of 13 April, on general contracting conditions and Royal Legislative Decree 1/2007, of 16 November, approving the revised text of the General Law for the Defence of Consumers and Users and other complementary laws.

The association reported Ryanair as it considered it unfair for the airline to charge extra for baggage that passengers could previously fly with free of charge. In 2018, the airline changed its free hand luggage policy and began to apply an economic surcharge. The only passengers exempt from this payment are those who have bought their tickets with the Priority Boarding fare which, for an additional price, allows them to continue boarding the plane with both pieces of luggage and carry both in the cabin.

FACUA warned that this is an unfair practice and that it causes serious harm to consumers, violates their rights and breaches the basic conditions of the air transport contract. In its complaint, the association reminded that the Air Navigation Act establishes that "the carrier shall be obliged to carry free of charge in the cabin, as hand luggage, the objects and packages that the passenger carries with him". The only exceptions are "safety reasons, linked to the weight or size of the object in relation to the characteristics of the aircraft".

Similarly, the General Law for the Defence of Consumers and Users includes as unfair terms all those "stipulations not individually negotiated and all those practices not expressly consented to that cause, to the detriment of the consumer and user, a significant imbalance in the rights and parties deriving from the contract".

Following the initiation of proceedings, it is now up to Ryanair to submit its observations before the Directorate-General for Consumer Affairs concludes the proceedings.