Ryanair Bans Duty Free Alcohol On Spain Flights, Will Search Bags

Ryanair Bans Duty Free Alcohol On Spain Flights, Will Search Bags

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Ryanair is known for sometimes having rowdy passengers who are looking to party. After all, it’s Europe’s largest airline, and it operates lots of leisure routes. The airline is hoping to minimize drama on some popular flights this summer, by limiting the alcohol passengers can bring onboard.

Ryanair bans duty free alcohol in cabin

Many people like to buy alcohol in duty free, prior to taking an eligible flight. In almost all cases you’re free to take this onboard with you, though you can’t consume it on the plane. That’s because virtually all aviation authorities ban passengers from consuming alcohol not served by a flight attendant.

However, many people think that rules are meant to be broken, so you do sometimes see people consuming their own duty free alcohol… especially on Ryanair.

Ryanair has implemented some new rules on flights between the United Kingdom and popular vacation destinations in Spain, including Alicante, Barcelona, Ibiza, Malaga, Palma, and Tenerife South. On these flights, Ryanair is banning passengers from bringing alcohol purchased at duty free into the cabin with them.

Bags will reportedly be searched at the gate, to ensure that nobody is violating the rules. If you do buy alcohol at duty free, the airline will tag the bag at the gate, and place it in the cargo hold free of charge. This assumes you have purchased priority boarding, or have a small piece of hand luggage.

Here’s how Ryanair explained this rule in an email to customers:

“In order to prioritize the comfort and safety of all passengers, Ryanair will implement the following restrictions on your upcoming flight to Spain. Customers will not be allowed to carry alcohol on board and all cabin baggage will be searched at the boarding gates.”

“Any alcohol purchased in airport shops or elsewhere must be packed carefully in a suitable item of cabin baggage, which will be tagged at the gate and then placed in the aircraft hold free of charge if you have purchased priority boarding or have a small piece of hand luggage. If the bag is unsuitable for placing in the hold (e.g. plastic bag) then customers will be required to dispose of the alcohol in the bins provided.”

Ryanair is implementing quite an alcohol ban

Is Ryanair bluffing about enforcement?

I imagine that Ryanair does have some serious issues with people consuming their own alcohol inflight. We see stories all the time about rowdy behavior on Ryanair flights.

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I can’t help but imagine that Ryanair’s motive is at least partly that it doesn’t want duty free alcohol purchases cannibalizing the carrier’s own alcohol sales onboard. After all, Ryanair makes a lot of money on ancillaries. Several years back, the company’s CEO even argued that he hopes the airline can eventually offer free tickets, and still make money on transporting passengers.

Next, I’m highly skeptical of Ryanair’s threat to enforce this policy. Part of Ryanair’s business model is that the airline has very fast turnaround times, and staffing is also minimal. Yes, I imagine gate agents will stop someone if they see them carrying a duty free bag that obviously has a bottle in it.

However, I’d be willing to bet that not all carry-on bags will be searched for alcohol. That would be incredibly time consuming, and would require a significant increase in staffing, or longer turnaround times.

Lastly, the logistics here seem like a pain, especially since I’m sure many passengers won’t be aware of this policy. Say you check a bag, then have a backpack to take onboard, and then have a duty free bag. Most people will probably then be forced to check their backpack, which could contain essential items (medicine, keys, money, etc.). Something tells me we may see an uptick in theft from gate checked bags, given that presumably more valuables will be in there.

Bottom line

Ryanair is taking some drastic measures on flights between the UK and Spain this summer. The airline is banning passengers from bringing duty free alcohol onboard aircraft. Instead, this alcohol will need to be gate checked, and bags will even reportedly be searched at the gate.

I’m skeptical of the enforcement of this, though hopefully it leads to a reduction in poor passenger heavior.

What do you make of Ryanair’s duty free alcohol ban?

Conversations (28)
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  1. Manuel Gonzales Guest

    Firstly, the price of alcohol in Spain is way cheaper than in UK Duty Free Stores or on board inbound Aircraft Sales. Nobody in their right mind would buy over expensive Duty Free liquor en route to Spain. Local Spanish prices in bars or shops are much cheaper, so Ryanair have a valid case here because only those on a mission to get drunk on board would be stupid enough to buy in a UK Airport.

  2. Bodecsabi Guest

    Given how Ryan boarding process works (they board you and put you to the hold area or make you wait in a staircase) i do not think any enforcement would have an impact on turnaround time. It would require more heads at the airport staff.

  3. Ban drunkards from flights Guest

    As many other commenters have stated, your headline is misleading. The real issue is UK passengers travelling to Spain (or many other Southern locations for that matter). Nothing to do with "Spanish" or Spai for that matter.

    You should update it accordingly from "Spanish flights" to "UK-originating flights to Spain" or something along those lines...

  4. iamhere Guest

    Not a good policy. That's not the reason people are rowdy on this airline. They should focus on enforcing not opening the duty free items on board instead. They should look at other airlines and determine why people follow the rules there. Consider you bought a BOTTLE of alcohol so you will consume the entire bottle in flight, that's a bit much!
    Enforcing this policy, though depends on other factors. If the staffs give...

    Not a good policy. That's not the reason people are rowdy on this airline. They should focus on enforcing not opening the duty free items on board instead. They should look at other airlines and determine why people follow the rules there. Consider you bought a BOTTLE of alcohol so you will consume the entire bottle in flight, that's a bit much!
    Enforcing this policy, though depends on other factors. If the staffs give you your duty free items at the gate, for example, then it could be easier to enforce. If they could work with the duty free shop to not allow the sale that would be a solution, but the shop has no incentive to agree!

  5. Weymar Osborne Gold

    Sounds to me like you can get a discounted checked bag for whatever the cheapest bottle of liquor at duty-free is now.

  6. Brian Guest

    Alcohol should not be sold in airports or on airplanes. Too many intoxicated paxs. We survived without alcohol sales during Covid and we can survive a flight for a few hours without a drink.

    1. Chris_ Gold

      Seems like onboard incidents were actually worse without the alcohol sales.

  7. Jake456 Guest

    A few years ago I flew from Manchester (it's actually a great city) to Madrid on Ryanair and at the gate to my flight was a Ryanair flight to Malaga. My gate was quiet and orderly, they didn't check anyone's bags for sizes and the flight was as pleasant as can be on RY. The Malaga flight gate by contrast... was embarrassing.
    Given the comparative expense of flying to the coast over an inland...

    A few years ago I flew from Manchester (it's actually a great city) to Madrid on Ryanair and at the gate to my flight was a Ryanair flight to Malaga. My gate was quiet and orderly, they didn't check anyone's bags for sizes and the flight was as pleasant as can be on RY. The Malaga flight gate by contrast... was embarrassing.
    Given the comparative expense of flying to the coast over an inland city, I'd rather fly to Madrid or Seville and catch a cheap AVE train if it meant avoiding the rowdy idiots.

  8. George Romey Guest

    When you encourage the dregs of society to fly with you for a dirt cheap fare you should expect the behavior of a typical 11 year old.

    1. GLCTraveler Gold

      EXACTLY................ Stupid In = Stupid Out!!

  9. Samo Guest

    It's funny how everyone talks about "Spanish flights" when in reality it's only "UK-Spanish flights". No such rule seem to be introduced on flights between Spain and the EU/rest of Europe.

    Anyway, yet another reason to not fly with them. I never bring my alcohol on board, if I buy something, it's always in my checked bag, but I don't fancy having my bag searched at gate *again*.

  10. R B Guest

    Drinking is the national sport in the UK
    ;)

    1. Brian Guest

      Have you ever been on a friday night flight to LAS, doubt it is much different.

  11. Vijay Guest

    Is a 5 year old news being quoted here? https://www.ttgmedia.com/news/ryanair-has-no-plans-to-change-stricter-alcohol-rules-for-alicante-and-ibiza-flights-15304

    Asking because there is already a denial being reported here - https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/read-this/ryanair-denies-banning-duty-free-alcohol-on-flights-from-uk-to-ibiza-after-series-of-anti-social-incidents-4182867

  12. Jeffrey Chang Guest

    I suggest searches by armed guards a la Midnight Express.

  13. Santastico Diamond

    This has nothing to do with Spain but with the UK. Whenever you have UK people flying you should ban alcohol. They are the rudest and most obnoxious drunk people you can find. Their addiction to alcohol and to get hammered is like no other I have ever seen.

  14. Donna Diamond

    Good policy. It respects the rights of the non-binge drinking passengers from the abuse of the drunks.

  15. pstm91 Diamond

    Everyone knows Kuwait Air is the go-to BYOB party airline

    1. AJO Member

      However, last time I checked, KU didn't operate any UK to Spain flights.

  16. T- Guest

    I think saying that Ryan is takin “drastic measures” is a strong statement don’t you think? What a rational thing for the airline to do.

  17. Dave p Guest

    There is a certain demographic that flies these routes and can often result in trouble. Just google Manchester and plane disturbance and alcohol.

  18. Chris W Guest

    Agree this will be impossible to enforce.

  19. Morgan Diamond

    How are we doing with the reviews Ben?

    I am pretty keen to read the ones from your trip with your dad.

  20. SamG Guest

    It's a serious issue unfortunately , the cause of many delay and diversions. Seems worse since COVID although alcohol has been banned by Ryanair before on Ibiza flights for quite a few years

    So I don't think they're bluffing although how much enforcement there will actually be I'm sure will be a mixed bag

    1. Brian Guest

      Enforcement costs money and staff time, with no additional revenue. This is something RyanAir does not do unless there are ancillary fees to be gained.

  21. GroeneMichel Gold

    I recall from a few years ago that Ryanair stopped selling onboard alcohol on some of its UK-Ibiza flights, if that's still the case, the cannibalization argument would not make sense anymore. It would rather just be to avoid any disturbances inflight and to provide everyone with a better CEX.

  22. DCS Guest

    Interesting. I've flown Ryanair several times while in Europe. Not fancy but it does the job of getting you from A to B without breaking the bank.

    1. DCAWABN Guest

      Likewise. Usually fairly short international routes - like Spain to Italy or similar. Those routes are perfectly fine and meet my (admittedly low) expectations. But as another commenter mentioned...certain routes cater to certain demographics that make that route unflyable. I've never been to Manchester (and really no desire to go) but I think I'd still head to LCY or Gatwick as opposed to risking a diversion, cancellation, or some sort of injury because I'm on...

      Likewise. Usually fairly short international routes - like Spain to Italy or similar. Those routes are perfectly fine and meet my (admittedly low) expectations. But as another commenter mentioned...certain routes cater to certain demographics that make that route unflyable. I've never been to Manchester (and really no desire to go) but I think I'd still head to LCY or Gatwick as opposed to risking a diversion, cancellation, or some sort of injury because I'm on a plane full of hooligans. I live in Spain half-time and we see that exact demographic in Barcelona ALL THE TIME. Whether it's some footy final or the Rugby Sevens or something else that speaks to rowdy drunkards, they're out in full force - peeing and vomiting everywhere and getting in fights.

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The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

George Romey Guest

When you encourage the dregs of society to fly with you for a dirt cheap fare you should expect the behavior of a typical 11 year old.

3
Santastico Diamond

This has nothing to do with Spain but with the UK. Whenever you have UK people flying you should ban alcohol. They are the rudest and most obnoxious drunk people you can find. Their addiction to alcohol and to get hammered is like no other I have ever seen.

3
Weymar Osborne Gold

Sounds to me like you can get a discounted checked bag for whatever the cheapest bottle of liquor at duty-free is now.

2
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