From November, non-priority customers of the no-frills airline will only be allowed to take one “small personal bag”, such as a handbag or laptop case, into the plane's cabin as long as it can fit under the seat in front. They will be charged if they want to take on a 10kg holdall or suitcase.
Hand luggage is “an essential element of transport” so Ryanair, and all other carriers, should include the price in the cost of a plane ticket, Antitrust said in a statement cited by the Italian press.
The new Ryanair policy could amount to unfair commercial practice in that it distorts the final price of the ticket and does not allow a true comparison with other airlines' prices, according to Antitrust.
Ryanair announced last month that customers who want to bring more than a small bag into the cabin will have to pay extra charges ranging up to €9.
Italian consumer associations had complained to Antitrust about the Ryanair decision.
“If its unfair commercial practice on hand luggage is confirmed, Ryanair … should reimburse all its customers who suffer unfair additional costs,” the association Codacons said in a statement, promising to take the matter to court if necessary.
The Italian inquiry heaps even more negative publicity on Ryanair whose shareholders on Thursday delivered a blow to the airline's chairman amid widespread strike action by European staff that has rattled confidence in the company.
Chairman David Bonderman was re-elected but only with 70.5 percent of the vote at the annual general meeting — a drop from last year's assembly where he garnered a 89.1 percent endorsement.
“Questions about the company's business model and governance now pose a threat to shareholder value,” said the chairman of one of the shareholders, the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum.