Q. Do people have to pay for seats on Ryanair flights? We checked in online and we did. But some people on our flight back from Spain had not paid and were allocated seats free of charge. Can you advise on this, please, so everyone knows? Mark Burbidge
A. I would never pay for allocated seats on Ryanair, though I can envisage three reasons why you might want to.
The first is for comfort. You might want a specific location, such as one of the emergency-exit rows, for extra legroom, costing £11.
The next is for speed. To ensure you are off the plane quickly upon arrival, you can choose a seat at the very front of the aircraft. That should mean you are right at the head of the passport queue. And if you book seat 1B or 1C, at a price of £15, you will also get lots of legroom.
The third reason: you are returning from somewhere more than a week after your departure. Ryanair insists all passengers check in online and bring their boarding pass – either on paper or on a smartphone – to the airport. Logistically it is much the better plan to stick to old-fashioned paper, because it avoids problems involving flat batteries.
Now, Ryanair has a policy that prevents you checking in online more than a week before departure, unless you pay extra to reserve seats – in which case you can check in a month ahead. The rule is not unreasonable, because it gives people who do want to pay for a reserved seat the widest possible choice, though it is annoying if you are going abroad for more than seven days. But I don't know of anywhere on the Ryanair network where it's impossible to find a suitable internet cafe or hotel where you can check in and print off your boarding pass – saving £6 per person.
A lot of travellers will add a fourth reason: wanting to make sure that they are sitting with their friends or families. But from my flights this year, mostly with my family, we have always been allocated seats together, free of charge.
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