21 January 2011 Last updated at 15:13 GMT

Ryanair challenges Spanish court over boarding passes

Natasha Emerson BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary Ryanair has appealed against a ruling that found it is breaking international law

Ryanair has threatened to turn away passengers arriving at check in without their pre-printed boarding pass unless a ruling from a Spanish court is overturned.

Currently the airline charges £40 for a boarding pass for those who have not printed out their own.

A judge in Barcelona has ruled that the charge is illegal.

The airline said if it lost the appeal it might stop issuing boarding passes to passengers who turn up without one.

In the meantime it would continue to issue passes at check-in on payment of £40.

International lawTwo years ago, Ryanair abolished the traditional airport check-in.

At the time it announced that all passengers must check-in online and print out their own boarding passes – or face the £40 charge.

Judge Barbara Maria Cordoba Ardao ruled that the company was breaking international law by imposing the charge.

Ryanair has instructed its Spanish lawyers to appeal against the ruling, saying it is “bizarre and unlawful”.

‘Absolutely serious’Without the charge, the no frills airline said it would have to re-employ numerous handling agents to issue manual boarding cards for passengers who “forgot” to bring theirs with them.

Simon Calder, the Independent’s travel editor, told BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours that he thinks the airline means business.

“Judging from Ryanair’s previous record of robust reactions to unfavourable court decisions – abandoning airports such as Strasbourg in France and adding a “wheelchair” surcharge to fares after a case involving disabled passengers – it’s absolutely serious,” he said.

“It will dispense with the boarding card reissue fee altogether, and will turn away passengers who arrive at the airport without the agreed pre-printed boarding card.”

Ryanair says more than 99% of people do arrive with a boarding pass and the reissue charge will continue to apply pending the appeal.