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Poor Ryanair: It must be facing a serious threat from easyJet and others if it's actually dropping fees and treating customers with respect.

Low-cost airline Ryanair aims to improve image by cutting check-in charges and in-flight selling

Ryanair, the low-cost airline, has announced a raft of improvements aimed at enhancing its reputation following criticism over additional charges and strict baggage rules.

Passengers will be allowed on board with a second “small” carry-on bag, such as a “small ladies handbag or [a] small airport shopping bag”, and the airline’s boarding pass re-issue fee is to be cut from £70 to £15.

Other changes include a drop in the charge for checking luggage at the airport, from £60 to £30 per bag, and the introduction of a 24-hour “grace” period during which passengers will be able to correct minor errors, such as spelling mistakes, free of charge. Currently such changes cost £110 per person.

On all flights that operate before 8am, or after 9pm, public announcements will be restricted to essential safety messages and cabin lights dimmed “so that any customers who wish to snooze, can comfortably do so.”

The changes will be implemented over the coming months. From November 1, the “quiet flights” and the post booking “grace period” will come into effect, from December 1 boarding card re-issue fees will be reduced, and a second carry-on bag permitted, and from January 5 the airport bag fees will be cut.

“These are the first in a series of customer service improvements which Ryanair is actively working on to make our low fare services easier to access and even more enjoyable for our millions of customers,” said Caroline Green, Ryanair’s director of customer services.

The changes come after Michael O’Leary, the airline’s chief executive, told shareholders it should scrap its “macho” image and eliminate things that “unnecessarily p*** people off”.

This week he took control of the airline’s Twitter account to answer questions from customers. Users gave him credit for supplying candid answers, but many were disappointed by his failure to address a number of issues. He was also accused of sexism after he praised one woman’s profile picture with the comment: “Nice pic. Phwoaaarr!”

Last week the airline placed a “suggestion form” on its website, encouraging fliers to tell it what changes they want to see.

It has also recently made its app free to download, and announced plans to redesign its website.

Ryanair is regularly criticised for being slow to respond to customer complaints and for forcing passengers to opt-out of various offers – for extras such as car hire and travel insurance – when booking a flight. A study by Telegraph Travel in July found that around 20 clicks of a mouse are required to get to the payment screen when booking with Ryanair – more than any other major carrier.

It has also been denounced for charging passengers high fees for hold luggage and in-flight food and drink, and huge amounts if they forget to print their own boarding pass or if their hand luggage is overweight.

Traditionally, Mr O’Leary has been notoriously dismissive of customers who complain about the airline. Last year he described a British woman who was charged €300 (£236) after she forgot to print out five boarding passes on a flight from Alicante to Bristol as an “idiot”.

His other notable quotes include: “People say the customer is always right, but you know what – they’re not. Sometimes they are wrong and they need to be told so” and “You’re not getting a refund so **** off. We don’t want to hear your sob stories. What part of ‘no refund’ don’t you understand?”

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Tags: customer service, ryanair

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