Ryanair has announced new changes to its carry-on baggage restrictions, in an attempt to address flight delays.

The low-cost carrier introduced new rules at the start of this year, which saw non-priority customers having to hand over the larger of their two pieces of allowed hand luggage at the gate, to be stored in the hold free of charge.

The idea had been to reduce the time it took passengers to board the flights, as there would be less luggage to put into overhead lockers.

But now the carrier has admitted that this policy has actually been causing delays to some flights with 25 minute turnarounds. Ryanair said that it has been having to tag up to 120 “free gate bags”, which has itself been causing delays.

So the new policy – which takes effect at boarding gates from November 1 and for all bookings from September 1 – will see non-priority customers only be allowed to take on board one free (small) carry-on bag.

The size of this bag has been increased from the current 30cm x 30cm x 20cm, to 40cm x 20cm x 25cm. Interestingly the carrier says that its new bag “sizers” at the gates will measure 40cm x 20cm x 30cm “to allow carry-on bags that are considerably (25 per cent) larger than our permitted small bag dimensions”.

Non-priority customers wishing to take a larger wheelie bag on their flight can now purchase a new 10kg limit for £8 at the time of booking (£10 when added after the time of booking), but note that this bag must be checked in at bag drop.

Priority customers will continue to be able to carry on two pieces of hand luggage – the small carry-on bag, and the larger 10kg bag.

Ryanair says that 60 per cent of its customers will not be affected by the changes, “since 30 per cent of customers already buy Priority Boarding and 30 per cent already travel with only one free (small) carry-on bag.

The carrier also said that it “expects that of the remaining 40 per cent of (non-priority) customers affected by this new policy, most will either switch to priority boarding or will switch to traveling with one free (small) carry-on bag only, and others will buy the lower cost 10kg check bag”.

Perhaps recognising the confusion caused by this new policy, Ryanair has published a 19-point FAQ on the changes here.

Point 8 in particular asks “Why would anybody pay €/£8 to check in a 10kg bag when they can buy Priority Boarding for €/£6?”, with the carrier giving a two-point response:

  1. Because customers may switch to check in a 10kg bag for €/£8 instead of a 20kg bag for €/£25
  2. Because some customers don’t want to carry a bigger bag through airport security

The carrier is at pains to state that the changes are not about making more money, but rather about reducing delays.