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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. First time on a "Check in/bag drop/visa check" desks (sometimes those are separate). Second time is on the gate as the boarding happens. AFAIR on all of my recent flights they did it twice. Why do they do it second time?

It is very reasonable to match your identity, your passport and your boarding pass at the gate, no questions here. But for whatever reason they always recheck the visa as well. Why? The visa check stamp is already there, you get it on the desk, and doing visa check at the check-in desk is mandatory, so what's the point of spending additional time verifying the visa again?

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

Note that if your are flying out of Schengen, you also have to go through immigrations passport control, and those officers can also verify that you hold visa to your destination. That is fine, and not a subject of this question. The question is specifically about additional visa check 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. – Johns-305 Apr 4 '17 at 17:32
  • 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. – Loren Pechtel Apr 4 '17 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. – user2357112 Apr 4 '17 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 Apr 4 '17 at 23:21
  • @Johns-305, let's say I am looking for realistic theories – Andrei Apr 4 '17 at 23:22
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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)
  • Agree but note that the first check is also necessary even if you do not check in any luggage. – mts Apr 4 '17 at 20:26
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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 Apr 4 '17 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 Apr 4 '17 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 Apr 5 '17 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 Apr 5 '17 at 9:28
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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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