Budget airline Ryanair has come under fire for refusing to let passengers sit in seats next to emergency exit doors unless they pay a £10 fee.
The Irish Aviation Authority is launching an investigation into the safety implications that come with these charges, as the seats are regularly left empty.
Despite not allowing passengers to sit in the seats if they don’t pay, the low-cost carrier still expects those in surrounding seats to follow instructions on how to open the doors in an emergency.
Many passengers have raised concerns about being asked to open doors that were at least a row in front or behind them.
The British Airline Pilots’ Association also raised safety concerns about the policy, while the Civil Aviation Authority said Ryanair should review its policy.
But Ryanair has defended the policy, claiming that all passengers on flights are given the same safety instructions regardless of where they sit on the plane.
“We will continue to discuss the matter with the IAA,” said Stephen McNamara, Head of Communications for Ryanair.
“We do not believe this to be an issue as all Ryanair passengers are provided with the same safety and evacuation information.”
This is not the first time that Ryanair has come under fire for its hidden charges and extra fees that it levies against its passengers.
The online check-in, that replaced airport check-in, charges £6 per passenger per flight, and failure to print out a boarding pass results in a surcharge of £60 per passenger.
But Ryanair does offer a prepaid card, to help passengers save money when booking flights, as well as when spending on holiday.
“All UK passengers can access even more great savings with the ‘Ryanair Cash Passport’, which is available to UK passengers directly from Ryanair.com,” said Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara.
“Ryanair’s £6 admin fee will not apply to any bookings made with ‘Ryanair Cash Passport’ and there are no transaction charges for using the card at UK merchants until 31 March 2012.”
Passengers are facing more charges for travelling abroad as it was recently announced that Air Passenger Duty is to go up by 10% from next month.
The hike will mean that a family of four will be charged an extra £250 for a trip to Florida, and around £360 for a flight to Australia.
But people going on holiday this year can still save money by using prepaid travel money cards, which offer savings on exchange rates while avoiding heavy bank charges.