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Travel Unravelled: Is Ryanair allowed to be so strict and inflexible?

We fell foul of Ryanair’s rules on luggage.

Q: I have just come back with my wife from a fabulous holiday in Mallorca arranged via onthebeach.com. However, the site booked us to travel with Ryanair. At Manchester airport we checked in two cases that we thought were on the weight limit of 15kg each but they were, in total, 5kg over and they charged us £100 excess. Coming back from Palma (pictured) we were charged €40 excess baggage. We then went through security and bought some presents that we put in our hand luggage. My wife's hand luggage wouldn't fit in the sizing mechanism so we were charged €50 and had to put the hand luggage into the hold, which caused my wife distress as it contained personal items. Surely there are laws against this type of practice?

Dr Peter Townley, Preston

A: The moment you accepted flights on Ryanair you signed up to the most rigorously enforced baggage regulations in the airline industry. And harsh though it sounds, the Irish airline will have given you plenty of warnings about its rules.

With Ryanair, the 15kg weight limit for checked-in baggage does not mean 18kg or even 15.5kg. But you are perfectly entitled to eliminate excess baggage at the baggage drop: the solution adopted by some travellers who are marginally over the limit is to take out heavy items, such as electrical chargers or books, and put them in pockets.

Coming home, you should have received from Ryanair an email shortly before your flight warning: "Strictly one item of cabin baggage is permitted per passenger weighing up to 10kg with maximum dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm." And it further specifies that shop purchases "must be carried in your one permitted piece of cabin baggage". Now, that latter rule appears not to be enforced when outbound at a couple of airports, Manchester and Paphos, but everywhere else the dimensions are strictly policed.

In future you may choose to fly on one of Ryanair's rivals: easyJet and Monarch also fly between Manchester and Palma de Mallorca. But bear in mind that all airlines are seeking to increase earnings from "ancillaries" and a good way to do this is strictly to enforce baggage rules. It might strike you as daylight robbery, but to the airlines it is sound business sense.