November 20, 2019 / 5:29 PM / a month ago

Spanish court says Ryanair's hand luggage fee is 'abusive'

MADRID (Reuters) - A Spanish court on Wednesday ruled budget carrier Ryanair’s (RYA.I) policy of charging a fee for hand luggage was “abusive” and could no longer be levied in Spain.

FILE PHOTO: A Ryanair commercial passenger jet takes off in Blagnac near Toulouse, France, May 29, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

The ruling stemmed from a passenger complaint over the policy, introduced last year, which charges most people an additional fee on top of their ticket price for bringing anything more than one personal item into the cabin.

“This ruling will not affect Ryanair’s baggage policy, either in the past or in the future, as it is an isolated case that misinterpreted our commercial freedom to determine the size of our cabin baggage,” Ryanair said in a statement.

When asked if it was planning to ignore the Spanish ruling or appeal it in the European Court of Justice, Ryanair declined to comment.

The passenger, traveling from Madrid to Brussels, went to court after airline staff forced her to pay 20 euros ($22) to bring her 10 kilo luggage on board.

The court ordered Ryanair to refund her the 20 euros plus interest, but rejected her demand for compensation of a further 10 euros ($11) for the suffering she experienced, according to court documents.

The judge ruled that the hand luggage, by size and weight, could be easily carried in the cabin, pointing to a Spanish regulation that allows passengers to take hand luggage on board at no additional cost.

The judge characterized the charge as abusive, adding that it “curtailed the rights that the passenger has recognized by law”, and declared it invalid in Spain.

She rejected the demand for compensation, however, saying that while doubtless “the passenger suffered rage and powerlessness in having to pay the extra unforeseen cost at the time of boarding” the discomfort did not reach a level that would justify compensation.

The court said in a statement that its ruling cannot be appealed.

Reporting by Elena Rodriguez, Emma Pinedo and Jessica Jones, writing by Ashifa Kassam; Editing by Alexandra Hudson, James Drummond and David Evans

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