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How to avoid hidden airline and airline fees, from bag drop deadlines to printing boarding passes

How to avoid hidden airline and airline fees, from bag drop deadlines to printing boarding passes

Nobody wants to be caught out by an airline’s rules when they’re at the airport, tantalisingly close to flying off on holiday.

This week, the decision by Ryanair ground staff to charge Ruth and Peter Jaffe (aged 79 and 80, respectively) £110 between them to print out a couple of boarding passes at London Stansted airport has caused huge controversy.

In a social media poll on X, formerly known as Twitter, the vote was 2:1 that Ryanair’s move was unfair – with more than 10,000 people registering their views.

Yet the carrier, which is Europe’s biggest budget airline, says: “All passengers travelling with Ryanair agree to check-in online before arriving at their departure airport and all passengers are sent an email/SMS, reminding them to do so 24hrs before departure. We regret that these passengers ignored their email reminder and failed to check-in online.”

So which airlines impose such rules and penalties – and which do not?

These are the policies of major carriers flying from and within the UK, as well as the check-in/bag drop deadlines.

British Airways

Online/app check in available from 24 hours before departure.

“If you lose or forget your boarding pass, you can print it again at a check-in kiosk at the airport,” says British Airways.

No charge if you prefer to check in at the airport – either at a self-service kiosk or a check-in desk.

“All you need is your booking reference (PNR) or passport,” the airline says.

Check-in/bag drop deadlines

One hour before all long-haul flights from any airport; and all flights from London Gatwick, Amsterdam, Antalya, Berlin, Dalaman, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Lisbon, Madrid, Milan Malpensa, Palma and Paris CDG.

45 minutes before short-haul flights from all UK airports (except Gatwick and London City), including London Heathrow, and all other European airports.

20 minutes before all flights from London City.

At Heathrow, BA passengers must have their boarding passes scanned at the entrance to security no later than 35 minutes before their flight.


Online/app check in available between 30 days and 2 hours before flight departure, and easyJet recommends passengers to do this.

But if travellers are unwilling or unable to check in ahead, ground staff at airports will help and print boarding passes up to the bag drop closing time – as stipulated below.

Check-in/bag drop deadlines

One hour…

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