An Austrian court has ruled that “exorbitant” airport fees of a Ryanair subsidiary are not allowed and accused them of “ambushing” passengers unable to check in online.
The case was launched by the Association for Consumer Information (VKI) which sued Laudamotion, Ryanair’s fully-owned Austrian subsidiary, on behalf of the Ministry of Social Affairs of Austria.
The district court of Korneuburg sided with the VKI and ruled that the 55-EUR (47-GBP) airport check-in costs are “inadmissible fees”.
The VKI argued that although online check-in is available for free between two days and two hours before each flight, the airport check-in in the General Terms and Conditions (GTC) stipulates that customers will pay a 55-EUR fee.
The association wrote: “During the entire booking process, the tariff for airport check-in is not displayed automatically. Instead, customers must find out the amount by actively clicking on the tariff information.
“If customers miss the time slot for online check-in, or if they lack the technical ability to use the portal, they will be forced to use airport check-in when they take their flight.”
The Korneuburg court sided with the VKI as it branded the fees as “unusual and surprising for the customer”.
The court also blasted Ryanair for not explicitly pointing the fee out to customers, but rather “ambushing” them with it.
VKI’s Beate Gelbmann said that she was happy with the ruling.
Gelbmann added: “Not only is it a surprising fee for customers, but it is also difficult for them to understand that they may have to pay more for airport check-in than the price of a low-cost flight.”
It is not yet known whether Laudamotion will appeal the court ruling.
Laudamotion, which was founded by former Formula 1 champion Niki Lauda, 70, was sold to Ryanair in December last year.
Ryanair charges the same airport check-in fee throughout Europe as Laudamotion, which is 55 EUR on the continent and 55 GBP in Britain.
Although found guilty by the Korneuburg court, it is unclear whether Laudamotion have received a fine for the “exorbitant” fees they have been charging.
Meanwhile, the Ryanair subsidiary has confirmed that it will appeal the decision.
The case continues.