Why Do Passengers Get Denied Boarding by Ryanair?

What went wrong for many passengers with the Irish carrier

reasons denied boarding ryanair
Image: (c) Damian Corrigan

Below are some reasons that Ryanair passengers have been denied boarding by the airline.

Why do Ryanair deny boarding to so many passengers?

It is in an airline's interest to deny boarding to a passenger if possible, albeit in a very cynical way. In some cases this is because they have overbooked.

(They deny that they overbook, but an unsubstantiated claim from someone purporting to be ex-staff of Ryanair claims that Ryanair DO Overbook Their Aircraft).

But the more likely reason an airline will deny you boarding is because they know you need to get to where you're going. They know you will pay for a new flight. Charging one passenger twice for the same service is good business sense, wouldn't you say? In fact, most passengers already pay twice for a service with Ryanair, as they pay multiple credit-card fees, despite the fact the purchase is a single transaction.

Ryanair is more likely to deny boarding than other airlines because, it seems, they are less afraid of bad press than other airlines. They are also lucky that they are based in a part of Ireland that has a very bad postal service - many complaints never even reach their offices!

Reasons Ryanair Might Deny Boarding

Note that not all of these reasons are unique to Ryanair.

I have not included the obvious reasons you might be denied boarding, such as drunkenness, intoxication or verbal or physical abuse towards Ryanair staff. However, I have read of a middle-aged woman and her husband who were denied boarding because she "showed grumpiness" (her words).

  • No Stamp on Boarding Pass (non-EU citizens)
    If you are from outside the EU, you must have your boarding pass stamped by a member of staff at the information desk. If you proceed directly to the gate without this, you will be denied boarding.
  • Oversized Luggage
    Ryanair has a strict baggage policy, with hand luggage dimensions the joint lowest in Europe (along with Wizzair). At many airports you are not allowed to carry any "duty-free", unless it fits in your hand luggage (easyJet also does this at some airports). Normally you will be able to pay a fine to carry these items on, but if their credit card machine is broken and you have no cash, then you will be denied boarding. More: Denied Boarding: Lack of Means to Pay for Oversized Luggage
  • Slight Damage to Passport
    This happened to me. There was a slight tear on the passport page. Their airport authorities told me the passport was perfectly legal, but the airline can deny boarding at its own discretion.
  • Traveling with Local Form of ID not Recognised by the Airline
    Ryanair doesn't believe in following local laws, only Irish law. Therefore if you have a form of ID legal in your country, if Ireland doesn't recognise it, you will be denied boarding. A Spanish family successfully sued Ryanair when they were denied boarding on an internal flight in Spain, for trying to travel with their children on a Spanish Family Card. More: Ryanair loses in court again
  • Passengers Traveling with a Driving License on Internal UK Flights
    For internal flights in most of the EU and for flights between Schengen countries, a national ID card is sufficient identification. But a problem arises for UK passengers on internal UK flights. The UK does not have ID cards. Many airlines (including easyJet and Flybe) accept photographic driving licenses. Ryanair does not. See also:
    Ryanair Travel Documentation
    easyJet ID requirements
    Flybe Photographic Identification
  • Deaf or Blind Passengers, Traveling Alone and Who Haven't Advised Ryanair
    This is actually an improvement on Ryanair policy: before, they only allowed four blind passengers in total, regardless of whether they were accompanied or not. See more: Ryanair deboards blind passengers
  • The Fifth Sole Traveling Passenger Requiring Assistance Even if you have advised the airline, if there are four or more passengers who require assistance, only the first four will be allowed to board.