Since 2016, the carrier has required families wishing to sit together to purchase seat reservations. However, passengers claim that the airline is splitting up families who opt not to purchase a seat in order to make money. Ryanair says that it does its best to keep families together.
Low-cost carrier Ryanair is being formally investigated by the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) following claims by travelers that it is intentionally separating children and parents on its flights in order to make money, reports Get.com.
Since 2016, Ryanair’s booking policy has required at least one adult in a group including children aged 12 or under to reserve a seat next to that child. On its website FAQs regarding reserved family seating, the carrier says that this policy ensures that “adults can choose where to seat their children.”
However, this required reservation policy comes at a cost; in order to get a guaranteed seat, passengers must pay a fee. Should passengers opt not to stump up extra for an assigned seat, Ryanair then assigns seats at random via a computer-generated algorithm.
The outlet reports that this random allocation policy is not waived for family groups or for those traveling with children but that “the computer program that is used to assign seats does supposedly do its best to try to keep families together on flights whenever possible.”
Indeed, it’s not just families with children, but any passengers who wish to sit together – regardless of their relationship – who are required to pay a fee. In the case of those adults traveling with children, this is a flat rate of £4 ($5.51).
The outlet also reports that, when taken collectively, these fees “now total around £400 ($551) million per year.” A timeline for the CAA’s investigation into the carrier’s seating policy has not yet been formalized.