UK and Spanish consumer groups claim that Ryanair is using an algorithm to separate passengers travelling together who refuse to pay extra

The European parliament opened an investigation in June after a Spanish mother was allegedly made to pay 4 euros to sit next to her three year old daughter.

In a survey of more than 4,200 people conducted by CAA, travelers most frequently cited being split from their party while traveling on Ryanair, but the airline insists that it doesn’t employ a family-splitting algorithm.

Ryanair says if a person doesn’t pay for their seat assignment, they are “randomly” assigned, which may result in them not sitting with their party. But the CAA found that when a passenger flies Ryanair, as compared to other airlines, the likelihood of being separated from their party doubled.

According to its study, 18% of all flyers surveyed were separated from their traveling companions if they chose to not pay to sit together. For Ryanair, that percentage jumped to 35%.

Preliminary research by the CAA found that six in 10 passengers paid extra to sit together on a flight because they believed they would be split up otherwise.

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