Ryanair has vowed to stand firm after a Spanish court last month called its policy of charging a fee for hand luggage “abusive.”  The ruling said it contravenes both Spanish and European law.

A Commercial Court in Madrid said the policy, “curtailed the rights that the passenger has recognised by law,” and declared the policy to be invalid in Spain.  The case was brought after a passenger complained after being forced to pay €20 to bring a 10 kilo bag into the cabin on a flight from Madrid to Brussels.

In its ruling, the court ruled that the woman should be refunded with interest, with the judge remarking that the bag could easily have fitted in the cabin.   It ruled the policy to be null and void, stating it should no longer be charged in Spain, and ordered Ryanair to “remove it” from its terms and conditions.  However, the court rejected a claim for compensation as it did not deem the case to have caused sufficient stress to the complainant.

Ryanair operates a policy allowing one small bag per passenger into the cabin without charge, but only if it can be stowed under the seat in front. The size limit for such bags is 40 by 20 by 25 cemtimetres.  Larger bags of up to 10 kilo are usually allowed into the cabin if the passenger pays an extra advance fee for “priority” boarding, which can cost up to €14 per journey.  Without priority boarding, this can rise to €20.

The airline issued a statement confirming that it does not intend to change its policy following the ruling.  It described the incident as, “an isolated case” which “misquoted the European Court of Justice,” as well as denying the airlines’ commercial freedom to determine the size of cabin baggage.