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You might be thinking of getting some sun in the half-term break or maybe you’re starting to plan your summer holiday for next year. If so, there's a new change in policy for Ryanair that you should be aware of.

The budget airline is changing the length of time you have to check in for free before you fly. From 1 November, you'll have to pay a fee if you want to check in more than four days before travel. This means travellers returning to the UK after an extended break will need to access internet while away to check in online or face a charge.

To help you avoid this additional fee, we're going to take you through what you should know about this rule change.

What is changing?

There are two options available to Ryanair customers when it comes to seating – they can either pay for a set seat or be randomly allocated one.

If you usually pay for a seat – you might do this if you're travelling as part of a family and want to be seated together – then the terms of this are not changing. Reserved seats cost from £4-£15 per person and this means you can check in for free up to 30 days before you fly.

But if you don’t pay for a seat, you can check in for free between two hours and seven days before departure until the new rules come into place. This is changing to between two hours and four days before departure from 1 November.

If you can't check in before you get to the airport, you'll have to pay a fee of £45 per person. 

Why is this happening?

The airline is saying that it's cutting the amount of time customers have to check in for free as a result of "extensive customer feedback". It also says that this move is intended "to increase the choice available to customers who wish to reserve their seat onboard."

The change will apply to all Ryanair passengers including those who've already booked from 1 November. So if you’re due to fly, you should receive an email from Ryanair giving more detail about these changes.

What does this mean for me?

If you're travelling with Ryanair and will be returning to the UK more than four days after departure, you'll need to access the internet while abroad to check in. On top of this, you'll need to find a computer to print out your boarding passes or download them to the Ryanair app.

This is likely to be inconvenient for customers who do not wish to interrupt their holiday for this reason. Even if you do download the information to the Ryanair app, some airports in Greece and Morocco can't facilitate smartphones – meaning that you might not be able to board.

Unless you're willing to check in while away, your options are to pay for reserved seating (at a rate of £6 per person for a standard seat) or go with a different airline. Ryanair has said affected customers who do not wish to accept this policy change, can cancel within five days.

See whether you'll be able to get a better deal elsewhere before you consider cancelling your flights.

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