The Balearic consumer authorities have fined the low-cost airline Ryanair 24,000 euros for charging hand luggage. The General Directorate of Consumption of the archipelago considers said charge an 'abusive practice', which the airline has been exercising for years.
The Balearic government authority bases its decision on several court rulings that stated that hand packages cannot be considered luggage and, therefore, a surcharge cannot be charged for it.
Similarly, the Balearic Islands authorities refer in their decision to case C-487/12 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) which states that hand luggage is considered an "indispensable element of air transport", for what the company "is obliged to transport it without being able to demand any type of supplement or extra cost".
The Spanish consumer organization Facua, which filed the complaint against Ryanair in 2019, emphasizes that the Spanish Air Navigation Law, 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 carried by the traveler" and only considers as exceptions "security reasons, linked to the weight or size of the object in relation to the characteristics of the aircraft."
According to Facua, the case is not over yet: Ryanair has the right to file a contentious-administrative appeal in court against this decision.
An increasingly widespread practice
Charging for hand luggage is a practice that has been spreading in recent years, especially among low-cost airlines.
Ryanair began applying these surcharges in 2018. Passengers are required to pay for priority boarding in order to access the plane with two carry-on bags. Those who do not want to do so are charged for all packages that board the plane and exceed 25x20x40 centimeters.
Since November, Vueling has also changed its baggage policy to force passengers to purchase the right to bring a carry-on bag into the cabin.