It's doubtful that the errant book was the only issue, but the actions of Ryanair, the police, and passengers speak to the toxic environment the low-cost carrier's policies have created.
A Spanish woman was removed from a flight by police just moments before take-off for carrying a book and a scroll that she could not fit into her hand luggage, it has been claimed.
A video posted online shows the woman being escorted off the aircraft by police at Valencia airport and the incident has promoted Twitter users in Spain to urge a boycott of the Irish low-cost carrier.
According to Spanish newspapers, Ryanair staff had instructed local police to remove the passenger from its aircraft moments before take-off because she had broken the rules over hand luggage, by carrying two items in her hand as they would not fit into her case.
The footage shows the woman begging with the officer to allow her on board. Other passengers can be heard offering to put the items in their own cases, before shouting “shameful, shameful” as the woman is escorted off the aircraft.
A spokesman for Ryanair claimed the woman had become disruptive and had “pushed past” staff at the gate without showing any identification.
“This passenger was in breach of airport security regulations, and having become disruptive was properly removed from the aircraft at the request of Ryanair agents,” said a spokesman.
Ryanair allows passengers to carry only one piece of hand luggage with dimensions of 55cm by 40cm by 20cm or less and weighing up to 10kg. Anything larger must be checked into the hold: Ryanair currently charges between £15 and £30 per flight for a single bag weighing less than 15kg.
Airlines have become increasingly dependent on “ancillary” revenue – such as baggage charges and priority boarding fees – to maintain their profits. Earlier this year Ryanair increased its fee for placing luggage in the hold during peak periods, while this week it announced that it is extending the number of seats that can be reserved on its flights, for an additional charge of up to £15 each way.
Other no-frills airlines have begun offering allocated seating – easyJet did so in September for an extra fee of up to £12 – and last month Wizz Air became the first European airline to charge passengers to carry hand luggage.
Airlines around the world will collect an estimated £22 billion in extra fees and charges this year, according to research by Amadeus, a travel technology provider, and IdeaWorksCompany, an aviation consultancy.