Lonely Planet Writer

Ryanair sparks social media storm with new check in rules for passengers who don't pick their seats

In what is likely to be a move that annoys and inconveniences some people, low-cost airline Ryanair is reducing the check-in window for passengers who don’t pay for allocated seating.

Michael O'Leary is CEO of Ryanair, which has just announced that check-in time for people with unreserved seating has been reduced to four days. Image: Galuschka/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Michael O’Leary is CEO of Ryanair, which has just announced that check-in time for people with unreserved seating has been reduced to four days. Image: Galuschka/ullstein bild via Getty Images

From 1 November, those who opt to have their seat assigned by the airline for free, will only be able to check in from between four days and two hours before the flight, although it was previously available from one week in advance.

Ryanair is reducing the check-in window for passengers from one week to just four days
Ryanair is reducing the check-in window for passengers from one week to just four days. Image by Ryanair

As many customers will not be able to check in for their return flights before they leave home, this is likely to be inconvenient for those with limited access to Wi-Fi or printers while abroad. Passengers’ grievances around this new move include that data roaming can be expensive and not every airport is equipped to accept mobile boarding passes.

If technology proves problematic for passengers, there are hefty costs associated with printing boarding passes at the airport (€15/£15) and not checking-in in advance (€45/£45). Some people feel that the move is designed to persuade travellers to pay extra to select their seats, as those who do so can check in up to 30 days before their flight.

Customers have taken to social media to express their disappointment at the latest development. While colourful CEO Michael O’Leary pledged, in late 2014, to improve customer service, some feel that reducing check-in times, as well as making passengers travelling with children under 12 purchase at least one reserved seat, is not in keeping with the airline’s recent efforts to improve its reputation.