Cheap-flight kings Ryanair have issued a threat to all parents of small children: We could start charging bigger fees to carry infants.
Ryanair, the Irish airline renowned throughout Europe for its super-cheap flights, was hitting back after being stung by a UK court over the payment of compensation for a flight delay.
The Liverpool County Court ruled that the budget airline must pay compensation to a 6-month-old baby after her family’s flight from Lanzarote in Spain to Birmingham in England was delayed by nine hours, UK news outlets reported. This was despite the fact that the baby girl, Crystal, did not have a seat on the flight.
Ryanair had argued that although it had paid compensation to the rest of the family, it shouldn’t have to compensate the baby because her parents paid only an administration fee to take her on the plane, not a “fare of travel” – this meant that the baby was, in the eyes of the law, equivalent to a set of golf clubs, Ryanair argued, according to reports.
The airline also claimed the baby couldn’t be inconvenienced by a delay because of her young age.
But the county court judge said that the allocation or not of a seat was not a determinant of whether someone was a passenger, citing the fact that bus and train passengers frequently paid for tickets without necessarily receiving a seat.
“They are nonetheless passengers for that, and I can see no justification for restricting the meaning of the word in this one situation to exclude those without their own seat,” the judge said.
In response, Ryanair told news outlets that it would immediately appeal the “daft” ruling, and also consider increasing the fee for seatless babies to travel in order to cover “these idiotic infant compensation claims”.
“It is absurd that infants (under two years of age), who do not pay an air fare or occupy a seat, can now apply for up to 250 pounds ($414) ‘compensation’ for a flight delay, when their accompanying adults will already have been compensated,” a Ryanair spokesman told The Telegraph.
The spokesman said that the family had already received $1,990 in compensation, having paid just $172 in total for their flights.
The level of compensation airlines must pay for delays is dictated by European Union rules.