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Ryanair requires that all non-EU citizens report to the check-in counter to verify their immigration status, even on intra-Schengen and domestic flights. According to Ryanair's official website the rationale is that:

Non EU/EEA passengers must do this in order to ensure compliance with immigration authorities. We reserve the right to refuse travel, if there is a failure to comply with this requirement.

However most other airlines don't care about visas or residency permits on intra-Schengen flights and sometimes even let you fly without showing ID.

So the question is: why does Ryanair conduct those checks?

Note that the linked question is about how to fly as a non-EU passenger, not why Ryanair conducts the visa checks.

EDIT FROM 2017: Apparently Ryanair realized how dumb their policies were and they no longer require you to go through visa checks on intra-Schengen flights

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    To save them a lot of trouble if a passenger should be refused entry in the destination country? Even if you are legally in one Schengen country, you are not necessarily (albeit in most cases) entitled to enter other Schengen countries. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Aug 31 '15 at 23:31
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo what about domestic flights in Germany, Poland and the UK? – JonathanReez Supports Monica Aug 31 '15 at 23:35
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    Because it creates an opportunity for more fees (rebooking when sent back at gate, etc.) – Andrew Lazarus Sep 1 '15 at 1:00
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    @jwenting - I'm the author of the question you linked. It was about how to fly RyanAir as a non-EU, and this question is about why those requirements are there. – Ayesh K Sep 1 '15 at 8:29
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    The first/last time I took them, they charged a fee for the privilege of having to queue at the extra desk. That's plausibly a reason. Since it seemed like a scam on Americans, I stopped using them. – Louis Sep 1 '15 at 12:25
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+50

You have answered your own question by providing the official reason Ryan Air do this: to ensure compliance with immigration authorities

When Ryan Air first introduced this policy in 2009, they claimed:

A Ryanair spokesman said it had introduced the rule early this summer to allow non-EU and -EEA passengers to use web check-in. Previously, the airline did not allow non-EU and -EEA passengers to check in online; instead, it offered a refund of the extra cost of checking in at the airport.

Aer Lingus says it does not have such a requirement. “For those passengers who check in online, passports are checked either at the bag-tag desk or bag-drop machine or at the boarding gate,” a spokeswoman said.

The Ryanair spokesman said: “Other airlines don’t offer passengers the convenience of 100 per cent web check-in, so they don’t need to do this yet. They check visas at their long-queue check-in desks, which Ryanair passengers now avoid.”

Most of the time an airline is responsible for the return flight when you are refused entry at the destination port. All other airlines do some form of basic visa checks in the background. Ryan Air either have not updated to procedures, or are choosing to do it this way.

Another thing to note is that Ryan Air only checks that your Passport is OK to travel, or that you have a valid visa. They don't check for example whether you are overstaying your visa (e.g. the 90/180 rule).

But what about Domestic flights or flights between Schengen countries?

This is where their official reasoning breaks down. They have a blanket policy for all Non-EU Nationals regardless of the flight they are taking. Obviously there is no immigration requirements for domestic flight, nor is there one between two schengen countries. They might say it is easier to have one policy for all their flights, but its hard to believe this when they are the only ones to do this in the first place.

Why don't they just perform the check at the boarding gate? Actually I have witnessed some positive experiences with other passengers forgetting their visa check, and the staff being nice enough to check it and stamp it at the boarding gate. However this has been far less than the experiences of seeing people rejected.

inserted:

From Easy Jet (another budget airline)

Will my travel documents be checked at the airport?

You need to provide photographic ID at check-in on all flights, including domestic services.

On domestic flights (excluding Italy) an ID check at the boarding gate is NOT required for passengers travelling with cabin baggage only. It is only mandatory that ID checks are conducted for passengers travelling with hold luggage. If you check-in online you will still need to provide your photographic ID when you go through security and again when you board the plane.

What are the travel documents that I need?

You need to provide photographic ID at check-in on all flights, including domestic services but the types required vary.

For clarification please see the table below:

Easy Jet Travel Requirements

  • not every country issues a national identity card. Please note: a driving licence does not represent a valid photographic ID, with the exception of UK domestic flights.

Money Making Scheme?

Many people actually (as @Andrew Lazarus has already mentioned) believe this is another one of their money making schemes. Many passengers are denied boarding due to this clause and by that time they do not have enough time to go back to the check-in counter and come back through security to board the flight. Thus requiring them to purchase another ticket.

I would tend to agree with this idea, they also are very strict with the check-in bag sizes and their idea to charge for using restrooms

Update:

I asked them on Twitter about Domestic and Schengen flights:

twitter conversation

I was unable to get them to give me a reason for why they do the visa check for Schengen flights

  • Excellent answer! I'm glad sanity prevails on domestic flights. – JonathanReez Supports Monica Sep 10 '15 at 21:42
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    @JonathanReez agreed, but if they can differentiate on domestic flights why not also on Schengen flights? and why not do the check at the boarding gate? sighs – EdmundYeung99 Sep 10 '15 at 21:50
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    As of today, flying from CGN to SXF requires a visa check for Americans. The information from Ryanair's twitter must be out of date. – Louis Dec 2 '15 at 9:38
  • I have read many places on T.SE that airlines are not on hook for bringing unauthorized passengers intra Schengen. – DavChana Nov 19 '16 at 4:13
  • My girlfriend always has her passport checked, they usually have a separate counter doing it so its not much of an extra wait in the airport, they just take a glance at her passport and off we go. – BritishSam Dec 15 '17 at 13:22
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I was flown domestic flight with Ryanair in Athens in July 2017 as non-EU citizen. The guy on Ryanair check in desk has told me that the visa check is not required for domestic flights. This means that Ryanair has changed their policy, or this is just less strict policy in single airport.

Update: please note that this flight was Greece to Greece. Intra-Schengen flights may have other policies.

  • I flew from Ibiza, Span to Pisa, Italy last week, and did not require the stamp. The man at the check-in desk seemed a little confused, and when I showed him the Ryanair website that said I needed the stamp, he said that was only if I was flying to the UK (which you could possibly interpret as meaning Shengen to non-Shengen). I was skeptical and called Ryanair in Ireland, and was told I only needed a valid passport. – Jer Jul 10 '17 at 18:07
  • On my flight back from Chania the guy on check in told me that the visa check is required only if it is stated on the boarding pass. – Seagull Jul 11 '17 at 16:40

protected by Community Nov 19 '16 at 16:39

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