Ryanair boss defends ‘no compromise’ rules – saying they mean low fares

Ryanair’s boss has hit out at critics of the airline’s airport fees policy, saying “that enables us to offer lower fares”.

An elderly couple were recently charged £110 at London Stansted airport after inadvertently checking in online for their inbound rather than outbound journey. Ruth and Peter Jaffe, aged 79 and 80 respectively, reluctantly paid the fee.

Ruth Jaffe said: “It was a genuine mistake. People hate Ryanair, I think.”

But speaking exclusively to The Independent, Michael O’Leary said: “This elderly couple, I feel sympathy for them. But, you know, the daughter is on complaining that we shouldn’t have charged them.

“We get lots of criticisms on a regular basis for these policies that are known, and we are absolutely unapologetic for them. If you show up, looking for airport check in, we’ve been charged for about 20 years.”

In a social media poll on X/Twitter, with more than 10,000 people registering their views, two out of three felt Ryanair should have been more lenient.

But Mr O’Leary said:“It costs us a fortune to rent airport ticket desks, to have staff sitting beside those ticket desks to look after about 0.2 per cent of our customer base who agree they’ll check in before they arrive at the airport, who get multiple reminders to do so, and still wheel up to the airport.

“We don’t want the money, we just don’t want anybody showing up the airport without having checked in online. It’s a very simple policy.

“It’s like arriving at the check-in gate with an oversized bag. You will not get it on board. We will charge you £60 or £70 not because we want the money. We just don’t want your bag.

“If you break the rules on Ryanair, it is a very simple business. We operate with very simple policies.

“The benefit of it is: that enables us to offer lower fares than any other airline to our traveling public.

“We are not going to apologise for, resile or change if a customer – regardless of what age they are – shows up at the airport not having checked in online, having been reminded on multiple occasions by us to do so”

Other carriers are more lenient. British Airways, easyJet and Jet2 all allow airport check-in at no extra charge. Wizz Air sells the option to check in at the airport for £11.50, with a fee of £35.50 for those who do not pre-book.

Loganair tells its passengers: “We don’t require you to print your own boarding passes or charge extra for checking in at the airport. We believe in giving our customers the choice. So if you are going on holiday – you can spend more time enjoying the journey than trying to interpret the rules.”

Mr O’Leary also said that passengers who book through online travel agents (OTAs) risk complications.

“It is one of the areas where we have a big issue with the OTAs because in some cases (although in the case of this family, it wasn’t), they booked through an OTA,” he said. “The OTAs give us fake email addresses because they don’t want us to contact the customer.”