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Spanish Court Rules Against Ryanair Baggage Policy

Spanish Court Rules Against Ryanair Baggage Policy

On Friday, Spain’s Supreme Court ruled that a Ryanair baggage policy that allows the carrier to send passengers’ bags on a different flight to the one booked by the customer was too ‘generic and vague’ and declared it null and void.

Ryanair Fine Print

Ryanair’s fine print includes a clause that allows the airline to send a passenger’s bag on a different flight to that booked by the passenger for safety or unforeseen operational reasons.

Spanish consumer group Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU) took issue with the wording as being overly vague, and the court agreed with it.

In the court’s ruling, it said that the policy cannot be left “to the will of the carrier to move (or not move) the checked baggage on the same flight under the invocation of inconcrete and absolutely unspecific circumstances of safety or operability.”

An ‘abusive’ clause

The court also took issue with Ryanair’s clause 2.4, which deals with ‘Governing law and jurisdiction.’

The clause declares as follows:

“Except as otherwise provided by the Convention or applicable law, your contract of carriage with us, these Terms & Conditions of Carriage and our Regulations shall be governed by and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Ireland and any dispute arising out of or in connection with this contract shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the Irish Courts.”

The court said the clause was ‘abusive’ as it resulted in a “significant imbalance between the right and obligations” of customers and the airline. It said that the clause unnecessarily obstructs any possible legal action by a customer by forcing them to research Irish law.

According to EU law, the court argued, if a consumer resides in Spain the dispute would be subject to Spanish law, with the origin or destination also in the country. The court said the clause was “incomplete” as it misleads the customer into thinking that only Irish law applies to the terms and conditions of the contract between the airline and the passenger.

Other rulings against Ryanair

The court also examined a number of appeals filed by the airline and OCU relating to previous decisions on Ryanair clauses. The most noteworthy of these include a 2017 ruling that the €40 charge for reprinting a boarding pass was disproportionate.

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Fionn Davenport is the editor-in-chief of the ITTN group, including ITTN and ITTN Ireland. He's one of Ireland's best-known travel journalists and writers, with nearly 30 years' experience writing guidebooks for Lonely Planet and others.

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