Ryanair passengers jetting off this weekend could be in for a nasty surprise if they are heading off on Friday night or Saturday morning.
Unless they get ahead of the game, and check in far earlier than normal, they may be stung for a £60 fee.
Website downThe problem is that the Ryanair website is closing for 'unavoidable upgrade maintenance' for 20 hours - from 4pm Friday to midday on Saturday, during which time checking in online will be out of the question. This is likely to throw a spanner in the works for 15,000 flights, carrying as many as 500,000 passengers.
You need to check in before 4pm on Friday and print off your boarding passes, otherwise you'll have to do all this at the airport, which the airline charges £60 for.
Checking inNowadays the vast majority of passengers check in online. They can do so 15 days before their flight, and no less than four hours before take-off. However, while there may be plenty of super-organised people who are poised to check in at the first available opportunity, there are also plenty who find themselves rushing at the 11th hour, after they have scrambled to get ready to leave work, and spent hours trying to get their packing down to hand luggage, and it's these people who will be stung.
ChargesThere was some speculation as to whether Ryanair would waive the £60 charge for printing boarding passes at the airport, but the airline will not confirm this, and given Michael O'Leary's fondness for dreaming up new forms of charging passengers, it seems unlikely.
Last month a dispute with Spanish airports over increased costs immediately prompted Ryanair to contact passengers who had already booked and paid for their flights to let them know they could be charged extra. O'Leary isn't backwards in coming forwards when it comes to ensuring he doesn't pick up the bill for passengers, so why would he change his tune now?
Worth it?The airline has said the new website will be worth the wait, it says it will be three times faster - which is going to be an interesting one to quantify. Ryanair's Stephen McNamara added:"Our upgraded site will improve performance, and allow us to introduce a new SMS text alert system which will deliver real time info to passenger during flight delays of over 2 hours and during periods of mass disruption, such as adverse weather, air traffic control strikes or airspace closures."
Interestingly, the opening sentence of this announcement saw Ryanair refer to itself as the world's favourite airline. It will be intriguing to note how many passengers travelling this weekend will still feel this way by Sunday night.