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"Ryanair requires that all non-EU citizens report to the check-in counter to verify their immigration status" (quote). Let's leave discussion about "why" aside for a moment. This question is about "how".

In my recent experience, they do it twice. The first time is at the "Check-in/bag drop/visa check" desks (sometimes these are separate). The second time is at the gate during boarding. As far as I recall, they have done it twice on all of my recent flights. However, why do they do it a second time?

It is reasonable to match your identity, passport, and boarding pass at the gate, and there are no questions about this. But for whatever reason, they always recheck the visa as well. Why? The visa check stamp is already there, and it is mandatory to perform the visa check at the check-in desk. So what is the point of spending additional time verifying the visa again?

Alternatively, if this happens to be the new way that the company operates, does it mean that the visa check at check-in desks is no longer required?

Note that if you are flying out of Schengen, you also have to go through immigration passport control, and those officers can also verify that you hold a visa to your destination. This is fine and not the subject of this question. The question is specifically about the additional visa check that Ryanair performs at the boarding gate.

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    Realistically, only a manager at Ryanair can answer this. Speculation, they consider the cost or repatriation higher than the cost of double checking.
    – DTRT
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 17:32
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    Ryanair isn't the only one doing it. My last two international departures from the US involved visa checks at both check-in and upon boarding the international flight. I don't know if it's related but this happened after an incident where a guy was refused at the originating airport, he managed to get to the connecting airport in time and boarded that flight. Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 20:34
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    Is this question about why they do it, or how they do it? You seem to contradict yourself. Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 20:40
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    @user2357112, not quite. This is a question about "how is the procedure conducted, specifically why is it done 2 times", and not "why they do visa check in general". Agreed, not the best wording, sorry
    – Andrei
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 23:21
  • @Johns-305, let's say I am looking for realistic theories
    – Andrei
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 23:22

2 Answers 2

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Airlines face heavy fines if they bring someone into a country without valid entry documents. Ryanair, a budget airline, operates with low profit margins as it is, and even a single fine can be really detrimental to their bottom line. On the other hand, doing an additional check costs them almost nothing. It also has the following benefits:

  • You can have 2 separate people perform the 2 checks, so even if one person gets some obscure visa rule wrong, the other person has a chance to correct the mistake
  • The check before checking in luggage prevents them from handling luggage of people without a valid visa (if they only had the boarding check, and someone was discovered without a valid visa there, they would have to incur the delay and cost of unloading the person's luggage from the plane)
  • The check right before boarding ensures that valid travel documents will physically be on the plane (and not, for example, lost somewhere in the airport - a lot can happen between check-in time and boarding time)
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    @mts if the percentage of their customers traveling without checked luggage is small, it's easier to just say "your visa will be checked at the counter and at the gate", rather than attach conditions e.g. "your visa will be checked at the gate; if you are checking luggage it will be checked at the luggage counter as well"
    – Doktor J
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 20:50
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    Idea of "luggage visa check" and "physical visa check" somehow has never occurred to me before, but it seems very logical, especially taking into account simplification that @DoktorJ mentioned. And double-check also makes sense. Thanks for your answer!
    – Andrei
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 23:28
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    I don't buy it. The fines are real but not that high (a few thousands euro) and for within-Schengen flights, the risk is low (most people with a right to be at the departure point also have a right to be at the destination and the lack of systematic check means that even those who aren't have a low chance to be caught and get Ryanair in trouble). Because of all this, other airlines, even low-cost airlines with low fares and short turnaround times, don't bother at all, not even once (not that legacy airlines have huge margins, their financial results tell a different story).
    – Relaxed
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 9:26
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    Also: Checking visa does cost money, more time spent looking at documents per passenger more personnel costs, everything else being equal. It can quickly exceed the costs of a few fines. And checking the visa a second time (as opposed to matching a person and their – already “validated” – travel document) isn't needed to address your third point. Again, other airlines (instruct their personnel to) look at the passport ID page and that's it. So why does Ryanair – and only Ryanair – feel the need to check twice?
    – Relaxed
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 9:28
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    @Relaxed or Eugene, can you reference the claim that airlines may be fined for carrying people out of visa status on intra-Schengen flights? (I would expect any member state having such a rule on the books would count as a Schengen convention violation by proxy). Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 14:56
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Because it is better for them (and for you) to do it twice.

The physical check-in is optional, now many people check-in online or at various electronic kiosks, so a check should be done at gate, there is no other place that company staff have all passengers.

But what happens if on check-in they give you a ticket and later you will be refused to board and all done by people of the same company? So it is good to have the visa checked also earlier, so that nobody could complain. And it reduce costs of retrieve an already sent baggage. (the first check is usually not only on check-in but also on baggage drop-in for automatic check-ins).

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