Last updated: 04:01 PM ET, Mon August 01 2016

Ryanair to Charge Parents Extra To Sit Next To Their Children

Airlines & Airports | Michael Schottey | August 01, 2016

Ryanair to Charge Parents Extra To Sit Next To Their Children

Photo courtesy of Ryanair via Twitter 

It’s a commonsense rule combined with a not-so-commonsense fee.

Very few travelers would expect parents to sit apart from their children under the age of 12, but many so-called budget carriers can end up with situations just like that thanks to non-standard booking and boarding procedures.

While consumer pressure and recent legislation will be changing the possibility of that happening in the near future, Ryanair has seen it as an opportunity to create a new revenue stream—charging a parent to sit by their child.

From Ryanair’s point of view, this makes all the sense in the world. In fact, the press release announcing the new procedure highlighted that children receiving a reserved seat would become free while all of their fares are going down by about the same amount as the parent’s extra charge for a reserved seat.

This was echoed in the statement of Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kenny Jacobs, who said:

“This will guarantee that adults travelling with children under 12 will be able to select their preferred seats at the time of booking, check in for their flights up to 30 days prior to departure and fly safe in the knowledge that they are getting Europe’s lowest air fares while ensuring that they always sit together with their children.”

However, from the consumer’s point of view, remember that this is a mandatory charge that can’t be avoided. For a parent who might otherwise decide their 10 or 11-year-old could sit on their own, they’re being forced to pay this extra fee on an airline they’ve selected specifically for its reputation as a budget airline.

To put it another way: Many likely saw legislation that parents must be seated by their children under 12 as aimed at budget carriers just like Ryanair and as a win for consumers. Instead, the company saw a revenue stream. While that is certainly within the company's purview, they very well could be alone in that assessment. 

 READ MORE: How Add-Ons Can Add Up With Budget Airlines 

The potential exists that Ryanair has misjudged their market and could alienate a key demographic of traveling parents. To those for whom traveling with children hardly seems like an “add on” the add-on cost could be seen as an insult. At the very least, it is yet another fee that travelers have to take into account when choosing between a cheaper ticket price and something that may provide more actual value. 

The extra charge is about $4.50 and takes effect Sept. 1. 


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