UPDATE 1-Ryanair, softening image, cuts fees and allows extra bag
* CEO O'Leary pushes customer service overhaul
* Part of bid to grow by 40 pct in 5 years
By Conor Humphries
DUBLIN, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Ryanair promised on Friday to slash its charges for extra baggage and reprinting boarding passes, the boldest move yet by chief executive Michael O'Leary to shake off the low-cost giant's reputation for bad customer service.
The measures aim to address some of the most frequent complaints against Europe's largest airline, which was voted the worst of the 100 biggest brands serving the British market by readers of consumer magazine Which?
Ryanair will also let passengers to bring a second small carry-on bag on board at no extra charge and correct minor booking errors within 24 hours, it said in a statement.
"When they say they are going to do something, they don't do it in half measures," said Davy Research analyst Stephen Furlong. "There are a lot of non-believers that they need to convert."
O'Leary was due to host a chat on Twitter to explain the changes, only the second time he has used the social network, long a mainstay of corporate communications at rival airlines.
The company's share price was down 2.2 percent after the news, underperforming an Irish stock exchange that was down 0.4 percent.
Management have admitted Ryanair must improve to meet a goal of boosting passengers to 110 million from 80 million over the next five years after the order of 175 Boeing 737s.
It is targetting the large number of customers who fly with rival low cost carriers like easyJet and Norwegian , but who refuse to fly with Ryanair because of its perceived poor service.
O'Leary promised a customer service revolution at the company's annual general meeting last month and has already promised to revamp the company's web site, scrapping a time-consuming security code, a pet peeve of many users.
That announcement came after the airline's battered reputation hit a new low when it charged a Dublin surgeon 188 euros to reschedule a flight after his entire family was killed in a fire in England.
Addressing a rule that has led to numerous newspaper stories about unfortunate families forced to pay hundreds of euros at the check-in desk, Ryanair said they would cut the fee for reprinting boarding passes of passengers who have checked in online to 15 euros from 70.
The standard baggage fee will be cut to 30 euros from 60 euros, which Ryanair said would bring it into line with competitor airlines.
The company will also introduce quiet flights between 9 pm and 8am, scrapping the loud alert when a plane arrives on time.
The moves will remove irritants for passengers without hitting any key revenue streams, said Davy analyst Furlong.
"They won't do anything that will affect the cost base," he said.
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