The government of the Balearic Islands has called an urgent meeting with Ryanair and the local pastry-makers’ association after the airline tried to charge passengers to bring cakes onboard, claiming it exceeded their cabin baggage limit.
The row erupted after two passengers at Palma de Mallorca airport tried to each carry an ensaïmada, a traditional Mallorcan pastry, along with their hand baggage. The airline demanded an additional €45 (£39) each to bring the pastries onboard, at which point the passengers abandoned them rather than paying.
Iago Negueruela, the Balearics’ tourism minister, said the meeting was called “in order to defend local produce and avoid any kind of discrimination”. Negueruela said he hoped the meeting would be held this week and that the issue would soon be resolved.
Pep Magraner, the president of the Balearic Islands pastry-makers association, pointed out that passengers may take onboard ensaïmadas bought at the airport’s duty free shop, and that this discriminated against other suppliers.
“All the other airlines allow passengers to take two ensaïmadas on board,” Magraner said. “It’s only a problem with Ryanair, but we’re talking about a lot of flights, especially to the Spanish mainland, which is the destination of most of the ensaïmadas.”
The issue is part of a wider dispute over the loose interpretation of what comprises hand luggage. Last year, the Balearic Islands’ consumer affairs office filed cases against easyJet, Eurowings and Volotea, demanding fines of €20,000 for charging large fees for hand luggage.
The consumers’ association Facua levelled similar charges at Vueling and Ryanair. The cases are being considered by the consumers’ affairs ministry in Madrid while there is pressure on Aena, the Spanish airports company, to devise a formula.
Ryanair has been contacted for comment.
Ensaïmada is a spiral-shaped pastry made from flour, sugar, eggs, water and pork fat. It allegedly takes its name from saïm, the Arabic for pig fat.
There are records of an identical pastry called a bulema that was made by Mallorcan Arabs and Jews. There is a story that a Jewish baker offered a bulema to James I of Aragón when he took Mallorca from the Moors in 1229.
Pig fat was not an ingredient in the bulema, which was added to “Christianise” the pastry. The Catalan poet and painter Santiago Rusiñol wrote in 1922 that with the addition of pig fat, “the Moorish ensaïmada became Christian, then it became Mallorcan and then was transformed into a food for all of humanity”.