updated 8/24/2007 4:55:08 PM ET 2007-08-24T20:55:08

Ryanair, the no-frills airline infamous for adding a myriad of charges for "free" flights, unveiled a new front Friday in its war on luggage — a check-in charge.

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The 3 euro (U.S. $4) charge each way will be added to the cost of a one-way ticket for anybody using a check-in desk. This means anybody who has to check in luggage or, indeed, any passenger who holds a passport from outside the European Economic Area: the 27 nations of the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Ryanair said it was simultaneously dropping a 3 euro charge for people who had no check-in luggage and wanted first-priority boarding. It billed the change as designed to encourage people to check in via the airline's Web site and avoid the check-in line at the airport.

Ryanair said the changes would come into effect on all bookings made from Sept. 24 onward.

"Passengers who wish to travel with checked baggage will be subject to a small fee to reflect the cost of airport check-in desk facilities," Ryanair spokesman Peter Sherrard said.

The Ryanair statement twice claimed that the free option would be available to all passengers who do not have check-in luggage, but in a footnote referred readers to its Web site for a list of restrictions.

The Web site's list of people obliged to use check-in desks includes people with infants or baby buggies, teenagers traveling without adults, and passengers traveling from Italy to Britain.

The airline also later confirmed to The Associated Press that holders of passports from non-EEA nations would suffer the new 3 euro charge even if they have no luggage to check, because they also are barred from checking in on the Web.

The new charges regime means that, for a typical passenger checking a single piece of luggage, the round-trip cost will be 18 euro (U.S. $24.60) for the just the bag. Ryanair's weight limit on the bag is 15 kilograms (33 pounds), above which passengers are charged an extra 8 euro (U.S. $11) per kilogram.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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