Ryanair hopes to eliminate all check-in counters by the end of the year and replace them with a self-service bag drop. Customers would check-in on line and then bring their bags to a designated area of the airport. The move is part Ryanair's overall goal to cut services and thereby reduce costs. Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary told the Telegraph of London, "Ultimately, we want just one in five people to check in luggage."
The European low-cost carrier also recently announced it will begin charging a £28.50 (about $41, see XE.com for current exchange rates) for duty-free shopping if those purchases cannot fit into a passenger's carry-on luggage.
Ryanair's business model is simple, and no secret: Passengers who need the bare minimum (basically a seat aboard the plane) can travel cheaply, but people who need anything beyond that minimum service will be hit with expensive fees left and right. In my mind, however, these moves push the carrier a bit beyond reasonable "no-frills" service and toward something more like cheap bus travel. I'm sure Ryanair has a plan for its "bag drops," but the idea seems fraught with potential issues. How easy would it be for a passenger to make a mistake somewhere along the check-in process? How secure is the bag drop? And charging passengers to bring duty-free purchases aboard seems downright cynical to me, though it will keep the overhead bins less crowded, which is largely Ryanair's goal.
But as always, with Ryanair (and, for that matter, its stateside counterpart Spirit), you get what you pay for, right?