Budget airlines appeal fine for charging hand luggage fees

by admin
hand luggage

Four major budget airlines operating in Spain—Ryanair, Vueling, Volotea, and EasyJet—are appealing a €150 million fine imposed by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. The fine was issued due to the airlines charging passengers for hand luggage.

In late May, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs announced the substantial fine against the four airlines. In addition to the hand luggage charges, three other practices were deemed illegal. These are as follows:

  • charging for seat reservations when travelling with dependents (such as people with disabilities and young children)
  • prohibiting cash payments for ticket purchases at airports
  • and lacking transparency in contractual information about prices.

The last two practices make it difficult to compare offers. The Ministry classified these violations as serious infractions.

Airlines’ response

Ryanair received the highest fine, reportedly over €100 million, according to the consumer organisation Facua-Consumidores en Acción, which filed the complaint. Ryanair has indicated that the legal battle to defend these charges will be “long.” The airline industry argues that these commercial practices are fully legal and supported by European Regulation 1008/2008, which must be adhered to by all member states. Furthermore, there are several judicial rulings that support these practices.

The appeals process

Following the submission of the appeals, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has three months to respond. If the appeals are denied, the airlines can take the matter to court, which could significantly delay the final decision.

“Nothing is for free”

The airlines have warned that they will continue to impose these fees until a definitive court ruling is made. Despite some consumer organisations encouraging passengers not to pay for these services or explaining ways to reclaim these costs, the airlines remain firm. The Airlines Association of Spain (ALA) stresses that even in the event of an adverse ruling, discussing the “free” provision of these services would be misleading. During a general meeting in June, ALA President Javier Gándara noted that the airline industry, even in its best years, achieved a net profit margin of only 3%, and nothing is truly free in this sector.

Economic impact

The airlines argue that if Spain were to unilaterally decide to ban charging for hand luggage, it would mean nearly 50 million travellers would have to pay for other services they do not need. This could significantly impact demand and the country’s economy.

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