Everyone in Ireland has a Bono story and everyone in Ireland has a Ryanair horror story. My own tale of woe occurred early in April 2011. After partying it up with friends in London I was on my way back to Cork. Having arrived in the airport with plenty of time to spare I made my way to the front desk where, horror of horrors, I was informed that my boarding pass was too tattered and thus unacceptable. If I wished to get home I would have to pay fifty pounds sterling to reprint a new one. Disaster! I was a poor student and that money was all I had to live off for the next week. After several attempts to appeal to the more humane side of the Ryanair staff failed dismally, I burst into tears. Seeing my distress, every single person in the queue came over to reassure me, each one stating that they had at some stage been driven to tears by one or another of the Ryanair policies. And yet they all came back to fly Ryanair again.
Why did they all come back? Are all Ryanair customers gluttons for punishment?
I can’t answer for everyone but I do know that for me and my friends it is a question of money. We are all at a stage in our lives where we do everything as cheaply as possible. We simply can’t afford luxury when we have social lives to fund and the fact of the matter is that nine times out of ten Ryanair offers the cheapest flights to our favoured destinations. My flights to and from London cost me twenty euro including tax. To put that into perspective that’s the price of a cinema ticket and two pints of beer in Cork, a very tame night out.
So when will we decide that enough is enough? There have been stories floating around for the past few years that Michael O’Leary hopes to charge customers to use the toilets on Ryanair flights. Is this enough to send us flocking towards other, more expensive, airlines? Apparently not. Talking to friends at a recent party we came to the consensus that rather than paying the extra money to fly another airline we would simply make sure to not drink before the flight and thus avoid the need to use the facilities on board.
As for O’Leary’s other alleged plan to get rid of regular seating all together – and leaving aside the certification questions that surround such a plan – again, provided we would be travelling at rock bottom prices we are willing to “put up and shut up” at least for the short-haul flights. For us, it is no different to travelling on the Parisian metro during rush hour and as long as the prices remain comparable who are we to complain? We are young, living in a recession, and we like to travel. As long as Ryanair helps us to go visit our friends abroad without breaking the bank we are going to put up with whatever they throw at us. That is, at least, until we get real jobs and can afford to fly with any other airline.
(Graphic above shows Aviointerior’s ‘saddle seat’ concept for stand-up seating)