Ryanair boarding-pass penalty ruled illegal

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A judge in Spain has ruled that Irish low-cost airline Ryanair cannot charge passengers for failing to print out their own boarding cards, in a decision made public Friday.

The judge was ruling on a case brought by a Spanish lawyer, Dan Miro, who was charged the standard Ryanair fee of 40 euros (53 dollars) for failing to print his boarding card before a flight.

"The normal practice over the years has been that the obligation to issue the boarding card has always fallen on the carrier," Judge Barbara Maria Cordoba of the Barcelona commercial court said in the ruling.

"I declare unfair and therefore void the contractual clause in which Ryanair obliges the passenger to be the one who brings the printed boarding pass to travel or face a penalty of 40 euros."

Ryanair can still appeal the ruling.

The Consumers Union of Spain (UCE) hailed the decision, describing Ryanair's policy on boarding cards as "abusive."

"International air traffic laws, to which Ryanair is subject, oblige a transporter to provide the travel document," it said in a statement.

Ryanair said in September it had overtaken Spanish flag carrier Iberia as the largest airline in Spain in terms of the number of passengers carried.

© 2011 AFP

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