Well, they’ve finally done it. They’ve enforced the algorithm. The party’s over.

Let me explain. With Ryanair you pay a base price and then you can pay for optional extras like priority boarding ahead of the plebs, choose your seat, insurance, car hire, extra bags, that kind of thing. You can check in early if you pay to choose your seat, or you wait til 5 days before departure and take pot luck on seat choice for no extra bucks.

If you were travelling with someone, however, and had booked your flight in the same transaction, although Ryanair always said that there was no guarantee you could sit next to that person for free, you always did. Until now. Well, until a few weeks ago, when they obviously tweaked the seat allocation algorithm.

When I checked in, those few weeks ago – 5 days before my flight with my daughter, who’s under 14, I went straight to the boarding pass stage, eschewing the pay-for-your-seat option and – lo and behold – she’s at the back of the plane and I’m at the front. What’s more, both of us got middle seats. Ryanair and sitting together no longer applies unless you pay. There is no more base price if you want to sit next to your friend or family member.

I wonder if the algorithm would still apply and they would split us up, were my daughter 3 rather than 13…either way, it’s a case of Ryanair further squeezing the rag to get another couple of drops out of it. Bearing in mind a few years ago they were making about €11 profit per traveller, another €4 for a chosen seat is a tidy uplift. I wonder how much customer goodwill will leak as a consequence.

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