/ Travel & Leisure

Does Ryanair’s ‘compensation levy’ take the mick?

Ryanair plane

Book a flight with Ryanair today and you’ll see a new compulsory charge. The no-frills airline now wants you to pay an extra £2 each way to cover the cost of cancellations and delays that are ‘outside of its control’.

Under EU regulations, if flights are cancelled or severely delayed, airlines must pay out for everything from refunds to passengers’ accommodation. They even have to do this when flights are grounded due to events like last year’s ash cloud crisis and snow.

Ryanair’s fed up with forking out for things that aren’t its fault, which has led to this travel industry pioneer being the first to introduce a specific levy to recoup these costs.

Is EU legislation hard on airlines?

I can see why airlines might say that the EU legislation is unfair on them. Perhaps it should be insurers who cover passengers’ extra costs?

Nevertheless, airlines know that these kinds of events can happen and so they should prepare for it. They may not like it, but this is the law, and they can no doubt insure themselves for events out of their control.

As far as Ryanair goes, you’ll now find a £2 surcharge on its booking page, described as a ‘Delay/Cancel levy’ rather than included in its ‘taxes and fees’ section.

But surely this levy should be factored into this no-frills carrier’s overall fare? Otherwise, where do you stop? You may as well add a separate fee for ‘staff wages’. Why not just add it to your headline price Ryanair?

Ryanair makes a point of saying that, unlike many of its rivals, it doesn’t levy a fuel surcharge on passengers. But isn’t this new levy just an alternative way of raising fares while blaming someone else?

It’ll be interesting to see if any other carriers follow suit – I doubt it. Easyjet’s already come out to say it won’t be imposing such a levy and Flybe has accused Ryanair of using the charge as a “thinly disguised fuel levy”.

Good news for stranded passengers?

Last year, Ryanair dragged its heels over paying passengers who had been stuck during the ash cloud crisis what they were due. So if travellers are now shelling out for this upfront, there should be no squabbling or delaying of payment next time another crisis grounds flights. I’d expect a proper refund service from the company now.

Are you annoyed by the ever-growing list of compulsory airline fees separated from the initial fare, or do you find it useful knowing how much all these separate charges cost? And do you think Ryanair can justify a so-called ‘compensation levy’?

Astraea says:
5 April 2011

All compulsory charges are, in effect, part of the price. If they are separated from the price, customers are misled into thinking the price is lower than it really is. This is clearly dishonest.

There may be other charges which are not, strictly speaking, compulsory – eg when passengers are charged for checking in online, and charged differently for checking in at the airport. Here, while there may be a choice between level of charge, and between form of check-in, the lower of the two is effectively part of the price. This is more subtly dishonest, but no less dishonest.

arb says:
5 April 2011

We really need to ignore Ryanair so called marketing methods. I never look at the headline price any more – we all now know there will be other costs.

Yes, they should put it all in together – if it is compulsory then it is part of the price. If it is likely (e.g. check in fee) then it probably should be as well. But my point is why do we worry – I pick out my flights and see what the overall cost is, then go to the next page and see what the extras are. Then go to the other airlines and compare.

Mat says:
5 April 2011

Ryanair claimed that last year it paid out over 100 million Euros for compensation relating to EU261 costs, however the carrier had total passenger numbers of over 72 million. Considering that within that year it had several unusual carrier problems, such as the ash cloud and the bad weather that are unlikely to be repeated again within the same year, I make the total revenue from this new levy to be at least 144million Euros. Not factoring in further increased passenger numbers this year, and assuming that the airline has to (unlikely) pay out a similar 100million for compensation, I see that as a pretty good 40-50 million euro increase in revenue. Nice work eh?

Sophie Gilbert says:
6 April 2011

Agree with Astraea and arb. What I look at is the overall price (and paying a few quid more will make me avoid easyJet and Ryanair like the plague: I HATE not having a seat allocated at check in and the free for all when boarding!!!!!). What I want to avoid is to see a 50p flight advertised and then have to go through the rigmarole of pretending that I’m booking the b****y (my asterisks) thing or whatever to eventually see what the overall cost is going to be (more than 50p, that’s for pretty darn sure), and again to be able to compare! What I want to see from the outset is the cost of the flight, including whatever is not deemed optional by the airline, plus the cost of each optional extra, hold luggage, insurance, whatever, all at once, right away, after having pressed no more than one button.

Longshanks says:
6 April 2011

I hope like me, all prospective airline customers stop using Ryanair where practicable, in favour of airlines who are more upfront with their total charges and more customer focussed. Until its customers start voting with their feet, profit over customer satisfaction will in my view continue to drive Ryanair’s actions.


I’d love not to have to use Ryan Air. Unfortunately, I’m sometimes forced into it when they’re the only airline to fly from the UK to fly to some regional airports abroad. -They seem to have cornered the market in flying to the 2nd cities of a lot of countries. So there is no choice or competition to force them to stop their evil ways! Customers – or income-generating cattle as they see/treat us – just have to put up with them at the moment…

Steve in Essex says:
6 April 2011

Well I have used Ryanair 3 times and after each swore I would never do so again – never because of the prices though.

First time, soon after they started, I got caught on the distant airport con, which meant that for my trip to Hamburg, by the time I got there I might as well have flown BA or Lufthansa

Second time I used them because they were the only people offering flights to my destination at a civilised time – except for the fact that they were 3 hours late and lied about it at both ends, so the taxi driver picking us up was not a happy bunny and it showed in his driving.

Final time I used them as the only people flying to my destination, but they had now introduced their hard plastic seats with no pockets and the whole experience was so horrible, that now I will not even compare prices until I have booked through someone else.
Guess what, they usually cost nearly as much for a much worse service.

silverdrling says:
6 April 2011

fares up front please. what the the administration fee actually is (i just paid it..) doesn’t seem to be shown onsite until you have paid!

Administration Fee 12.00 GBP

if anyone take take the joy away from getting a ticket to go on holiday its ryanair …

Geoff says:
6 April 2011

Just noticed this on their webiste. It definitely takes the Mick – if my flight isnt disrupted will they give it back?