Stop flying RyanAir, it only encourages them!

June 25, 2009

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the low-cost airline model itself. Indeed I regularly fly on easyJet and Denmark’s equivalent Cimber (formerly Sterling, and before that Maersk). But RyanAir, and in particular Michael O’Leary, have taken it too far.

This post is prompted by their recent announcement that following the removal of check-in desks, so you have to check in online, print your boarding card and take any checked baggage to bag drop, they are then going to do away with the bag drop. So if you really want to take checked baggage then you’re going to have to take it through airport security and carry it to the ‘plane yourself – and pay for the privilege.

But my relationship, or lack of it, goes back much further than that.

My first ever flight with RyanAir was from Stansted (probably my least favourite airport in Europe – there are worse elsewhere but that’s for another post) to Dublin. I got stuck in the mother of all traffic jams on the M25 and the journey that should normally take about an hour took three. So I was more than two hours late for check in. Didn’t matter though, ’cause the flight was more than three hours late and check in was still open! I still caught the flight, and got to Dublin airport in the middle of the night when all the public transport had stopped running and virtually all the taxi drivers were all enjoying a pint of the black stuff in their local bar.

After that I had a few unremarkable flights to and from Esbjerg in Denmark (I have family in Denmark) but I couldn’t help noticing how unfriendly and grumpy the staff were. I have since come to the conclusion that either O’Leary sends them on customer unfriendliness training or that RyanAir is such an awful employer that they really don’t give a sh*t about customers. Probably the latter since the former would involve spending money.

I did once look at flying with RyanAir to Copenhagen. Well they advertised it as Copenhagen (they’ve now changed it). When you looked harder though it was actually to Malmo. For those of you who don’t know, Malmo isn’t just an airport outside Copenhagen. It’s not actually in the same country! Malmo’s in Sweden. Yes I know there’s a train from Malmo to Copenhagen main railway station, but that’s like advertising flights to London, landing in Paris and saying “well, there’s a train”.

Recently an Irish friend of mine was flying RyanAir to somewhere in Europe, and the return flight was very very late. When they finally boarded the crew announced that due to some problem there were no refreshments loaded on the aircraft. He’d bought some cans of beer in duty free, so once the seat-belt signs were out he got a can out of his bag and opened it. The cabin crew immediately confiscated it! Drinking your own is against the conditions of carriage – even though they hadn’t got anything they could offer in its place.

I’m reasonably certain now that RyanAir would rather you booked a flight (online of course), pay for it and then not show up. That way they’d make all the money but not have to employ baggage handlers, cabin crew or even pilots!

The final straw for me came in 2006 when my brother was seriously ill with oesophagal cancer. The family had previously organised holidays over the summer which involved flights to and from both Denmark and Portugal with three airlines: easyJet, BMI (for flights on SAS) and RyanAir.

Sadly my brother passed away. Clearly we cancelled all our holiday plans and started to book flights for a lot of people to the funeral in Denmark. BMI were brilliant, just brilliant. I rang and explained the situation – they couldn’t have been more helpful, they cancelled the flights, refunded the cost to my card and set about finding me flights on SAS for the funeral.

easyJet were pretty good too. They wanted to see a copy of the death certificate and charged a small handling fee to cancel the flights but they set up an account for me, credited all the flights (less the handling charges) to it and said I could use the funds anytime in the following six months. They were pleasant, sympathetic and helpful.

RyanAir were insensitive, rude and unpleasant. Their only response was “If you don’t turn up you lose the flight.” When my wife asked to speak to a supervisor the response was, “And what would be the point of that?” (You’ll have to imagine the Irish accent.) Fortunately the flights in question, for my two Danish nieces, were covered by their travel insurance so we got the money refunded. No thanks to RyanAir.

After that I determined that I’d never fly RyanAir again. And I haven’t. I doubt they’ve missed my custom since they have recently been identified as the most profitable (and most disliked) airline in Europe.

But my question is why, when they’re so money-grubbing, unpleasant, rude and unreliable, do people keep flying with them? Are we all now so hard up that we’ll put up with all that cr*p just to get an advertised 44p single fare to an airport so far from where we want to go it may not even be in the same country?

While people keep paying and flying with them, and putting up with the sh*t they dish out, they’ll keep doing it. Stop flying RyanAir people. Stop now. When they realise that they’ve pushed us all too far maybe, just maybe, they’ll improve. In the meantime Michael O’Leary is laughing all the way to the bank.

Fly RyanAir? I’d rather walk.


  1. I would be grumpy myself too if I had to pay for my 7week training course and at the same time work on board, and buy my own uniform! Another save costing plan!

  2. Ryanair’s existence means I can fly to see my girlfriend in Poland for the price of a UK coach fare. Treat it as a cattle truck and only pay attention to the bottom line and you realise that actually it’s an incredible service. I agree that advertising charges in the form of payment fees seems a little underhand, but look at what the actual bottom line is – for the solo traveller they represent great value.

  3. Ryanair are an extremely dangerous airline. They constantly infringe requirements and ignore air traffic control restrictions and directions all in an attempt to minimise cost and maximise profits at the expense of safety and human lives. <…comment removed to avoid potential legal liability – ed> The only thing they care about is to turn their aeroplane around for the next flight all but ignoring directives.


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