RYANAIR has been hit with a €3 million fine by an Italian regulator over its controversial cabin baggage policy brought in last year.
In January 2018, the Irish budget airline changed its rules to allow passengers to bring only one small personal bag on board its aircraft for free – with any customers wanting to bring an additional carry-on suitcase into the cabin having to pay for 'Priority Boarding'.
Passengers who did not pay for Priority Boarding initially had their larger carry-on case stowed in the hold free of charge, until Ryanair changed its policy in November 2018 to charge non-Priority Boarding fliers for any carry-on case in the hold.
Last Autumn, the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) opened an investigation into Ryanair's new baggage policy and near-identical rules adopted by WizzAir.
The watchdog argued it was "essential" that passengers be allowed to travel with a larger carry-on bag and that the two budget airlines were raising travel fees in a "non-transparent" manner – with extra payments of between €5 and €25.
AGCM has now imposed a penalty of €3m on Ryanair and €1m on Wizz Air after deciding that their new rules amounted to an unfair trade practise.
"Hand baggage is an essential element of the air transport service and its transport must be permitted without incurring any additional costs," AGCM said in a statement.
"In fact, also on the basis of the European legislation on air transport, the foreseeable and unavoidable supplements must be included in the price of the basic service presented since the first contact and, therefore, can not be separated from this with the request for further sums.
"Hence the deception for consumers, as the price to be paid at the end of the booking process will almost always be higher than the tariff presented at the beginning of the process."
Ryanair has rejected the Italian regulator's claims, saying its policy is transparent and helps flight punctuality by speeding up boarding.