Two months ago, Ryanair introduced a controversial seat allocation system, where if you don’t pay, you are allocated a seat without your approval and without the possibility of changing it. This way, the airline can put 2 people (such as a mother and her child) on 2 very distant seats. Many of us wondered: Will Ryanair do this on purpose, just to force us to pay for a seat?
Ryanair has a reputation for hating its customers; in fact, it was voted Worst Airline in 2012 and was among the Worst Brands for Customer Satisfaction in 2013 in a survey organised by Which? magazine. So it wouldn’t surprise anybody if it split groups or families, just to convince them to pay for their seats. Just like the mafia making you pay a protection tax that protects you against… the mafia.
On the other hand, Ryanair announced that they want to change and clear their image. They are trying to demonstrate that they are the “good guy” and that they can treat their customers with respect. But can they?
I also wondered this myself, and since their allocation algorithm is not public, all we can do is to observe what’s happening. As I wrote last week, I analysed their allocation system for a few weeks. During my analysis, I saw that the seats are allocated in a certain order. But I often noticed situations in which they left 1-2 seats unallocated just to allocate 2-6 adjoining seats on the next available row. This made me think that the 2-6 seats were for a group/family, and Ryanair gave them adjoining seats (as they probably wanted).
As I could not understand whether or not this was a rule (or whether Ryanair does this only for certain types of groups), I consulted people who have travelled with Ryanair in a group since allocated seating was introduced. I asked on big travel forums like TripAdvisor and boards.ie. Many people reported that they travelled in big groups and were allocated seats together, and nobody said that Ryanair split their group. The media haven’t reported any cases of split families either, at least not since this unfortunate story.
The data I managed to gather confirms that Ryanair, indeed, tries to put families/groups together and does not split families travelling together, provided that you made a single booking and you don’t check in at the very last moment.
Have you travelled with Ryanair in a group since February? Were you seated together or not? I’d like to hear about your experience, so please leave a comment below.
Update on 05/03/2015: There is one person (see below) that say his family was split, despite being on the same reservation. The check in was made 10 hours before the flight.