Browsing Tag: Ryanair

Ryanair Boeing 737-800 (EI-DHK)

Ryanair Boeing 737-800 (EI-DHK)

It has been quite some time since I last talked about one of my favorite airlines: Ryanair. Last time I pointed out how Ryanair was actually talking about becoming a more mature airline. Their CEO, Michael O’Leary was  touting what they can offer passengers versus being the lowest cost airline possible. Although they aren’t getting attention over a crazy new fee idea, they are in some hot water for an old fee.

If you think the fees of airlines in the United States are crazy, you might be a little shocked to see how Ryanair does business. Having to pay $45 for a checked in bag on Spirit Airlines? Ha… That is amateur night. The fee in question is the ability to print your boarding pass at the airport. If you do not manage to print it at home, you are looking at a €40 (about $54.00) fee.

Do not get me wrong, that is a lot of money for a very simple process, but it is a part of the process — this is how Ryanair works. You get super dirt cheap tickets and then fees for pretty much everything else outside of moving your bottom from one part of the world to another. This is their business model and it is very successful for them. The more people check in at home, the less kiosks and employees they need at the airport, reducing costs and reducing ticket fares. Although fees can be annoying, Ryanair is quite clear of their policies and they pass down the savings to the customers. If you do not like the policies of the airline, don’t fly the airline.

Anyhow, a Spanish judge has now ruled that this fee is “unfair.” This all started with a passenger named Dan Miro,  took a Ryanair flight back in May 2009. He missed the part where he should print his boarding pass at home and was quite upset when he found out how much he had to pay at the airport. It just so happened that Miro is a Spanish lawyer and instead of taking the blame for not realizing his mistake, he decided to take Ryanair to court.

Ryanair argued they are a low cost carrier and do things differently than other airlines. However, the judge wouldn’t hear it and decided that the airline is responsible for printing boarding passes, since that is the way it works. Ryanair sees the boarding pass just like an ID. You need an ID to fly and if you forget it at home, you just don’t get to fly. Instead of leaving a passenger high and dry if they forget their boarding pass, the airline will allow passengers to print it out at the airport… for a fee. Although a very different procedure from most airlines, this really isn’t all that crazy. An airline is not allowed to try to do things differently without fear of being taken to court?

Ryanair states that if they have to stop charging a fee for printing boarding passes, they might just not offer to print them at the airport at all. How lame would that be? I might start sounding like a broken record here, but if you do not like the fees of one airline, do not fly it. Use your cash to give your vote. So many people talk about hating fees, yet they they see that super low price, they cannot help themselves. Always reminds me of the quote, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

What are your thoughts? Is this a fee that has come too far? Do you think a US carrier might try this fee someday? Should US carriers be sued for the fees they already have?

Source: Irish Times via Air Observer Image: wico

Ryanair Boeing 737-800 (EI-EKK) at Boeing Field before being delivered to Ryanair

Ryanair Boeing 737-800 (EI-EKK) at Boeing Field before being delivered to Ryanair

Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary is known for saying crazy things. Standing seats, paid toilets and more recently flying with only one pilot. This bizarre approach gets him and Ryanair a lot of free publicity. It is a genius way to do things, because it works.

Well O’Leary recently said some very interesting things that was reported by The Guardian and he isn’t getting much attention. It is odd because this is some of O’Leary’s craziest stuff ever: he wants Ryanair to improve in quality.

He told the Guardian that he feels Ryanair is maturing and with  growth, they need a new strategy and a new leader. O’Leary feels that the airline needs to talk more about what they can offer versus being the cheapest airline at all costs.

Whoa! What? Does that mean no more crazy rants? Well don’t get too excited, because even though he says he should leave, he also says he won’t leave until the airline doubles in size.

O’Leary stated, “When we are twice the size we are now, at around 400 aircraft, then the growth rate slows down to 2% or 3% per year. The shareholders will want a return. You will need a different management then. We won’t need my dog and pony show, which is about generating publicity. Every company has to move from being the high-growth Robin Hood.”

Well, at least he knows his shenanigans is just a show.

Ryanair has already been moving into larger airports and away from their small airport game plan. They say they want to bring up their image, but I am almost thinking they just want to bring up the price of a ticket and increase their profit.

Love Ryanair or hate them, they have a model that works. They can do almost whatever they want because they charge so little? Why change something that works? If they move out of the crazy realm, I am sure other airlines would be more than happy to step up.

Image: Drewski2112
I doubt these yellow RyanAir seats will be taken out for stand up seats anytime soon

I doubt these yellow Ryanair seats will be taken out for stand up seats anytime soon

I debated if I should even blog about this, but figured why not?

Ryanair is out there running its (genius) PR machine again. It doesn’t matter how many times Ryanair says something the media will pick it up and treat it like fact. I love Ryanair’s ability to consistently do this and especially with a topic that has already been picked up previously. They will talk about some radical money-saving scheme (ie paid toilets) and then it never happens. Yet passengers get the idea that Ryanair is willing to do almost anything to save passengers money and look to them for the cheapest ticket possible, while Ryanair gets tons of free publicity. Like their PR strategy or hate it, at least it works (and I know I am guilty of helping them out).

Anyhow, Ryanair is at it again saying they are looking to provide uber low fares on stand up seats, but Boeing is saying no way. Aubrey Cohen with the Seattle PI quotes Boeing as saying, “We are not considering standing-only accommodations, nor do we have any plans to do so. Among other things, stringent regulatory requirements — including seats capable of withstanding a force of 16 Gs — pretty much preclude such an arrangement.”

Even though I don’t think it is that crazy of an idea to offer stand-seating in the future, I doubt we will be seeing them anytime soon. Many short-hop flights from 30-90 minutes could be done standing up. Think of riding a full bus or train and seeing people having to stand for longer periods of time. Unlike a bus or train, an airplane under-goes much more force with take off and landing.

Even if standing seats did exist, would they make economical sense? Ryanair is saying they would charge as little as $6 for a standing seat. Adding extra seats, but reducing fares while having to haul around more weight doesn’t seem to make business sense. It would most likely be more cost effective just to keep the sitting seats and charge more.

Image: GetDown

When I was a young kid I remember seeing this commercial on TV. With all the talk about all these extra fees and maybe having to pay for bathrooms, I couldn’t help but think of this classic commercial. Thanks to YouTube, I was able to track it down and wanted to share. Little did the ad agency know how real this might become.

This also shows that is Ryanair will really do this (I don’t think they will), they need to make sure the doors take credit cards!

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Amy's family took this photo when flying from Shannon to Paris. When sending the photo, Dorothy (Amy's mom) points out the Aerlingas plane in the background, which was going to the same destination and cost 3-4 times.

Amy's family took this photo when flying from Shannon to Paris in 2008. Dorothy (Amy's mom) points out the Aer Lingus plane in the background going to the same airport and charging three times more than Ryanair.

Don’t worry folks. The blog is not going to turn just into talking about Ryanair, but recently I have received not just one, but two emails from Stephen McNamara with Ryanair and they have caused a lot of discussion on Twitter and the blogsphere [check out the opinion on the letters]. A lot of people have contacted me and commented about how crazy Ryanair can be, but I think they just would take it as a compliment. I haven’t had the opportunity to fly Ryanair, but my girlfriend Amy has been able to fly them quite a few times and I wanted to share her viewpoint:

Due to a study abroad experience, and later a work relocation for a family member, I’ve had the opportunity to travel a bit in Europe, flying on Ryanair about 15 times.

Ryanair has cheap tickets to various cities in Europe.  They have a great business model – no question about that.  I think that anyone who is duly warned about the downsides of flying Ryanair and then complains about it is getting exactly what they deserve.  It’s a low-cost airline, and they don’t owe you anything.  If you want a first-class experience, go ahead and pay three times as much to fly another airline.  If your main concern is fast and cheap Point A to Point B service to another European city, then low-cost airlines like Ryanair or Wizz Air or easyJet or whoever is the cheapest that week will do just fine.

You should do your research whenever you plan a trip, that’s a given.  There a few things to consider if you’re deciding whether or not to fly a low-cost airline on your trip.  For ease of comparison, I’ll refer to the points that David and Stephen McNamara were debating about Ryanair.

#1: Customer service – Low-cost airline staff are primarily concerned with efficiency.  You may be trading above-and-beyond friendliness for getting the plane off the ground in time.  I don’t exactly equate on-time arrivals with “customer service” but it’s important to recognize that Ryanair has a good on-time arrivals record.  Ryanair doesn’t do connections, so being on-time is pretty critical if you’re hopping around.  I was only on two late flights, and only one was a little catastrophic for my vacation plans.  Did I go complain to Ryanair?  No way.  Did I expect them to pay for my 200 Euro cab ride because I missed my train?  No – I knew exactly what I was getting into when I bought that cheap ticket.

#2: Charging for the little things – Yeah, there are lots of fees that make that cheap fare go up (though probably still cheaper than a larger airline).  Here’s a list of Ryanair’s fees.  However, if you have no checked luggage, can find a promo fare with no check-in fee, don’t need snacks or drinks, don’t need priority boarding (which most families do) and have no sports equipment, musical instruments or baby stuff (including actual babies – 20 Euros), you can avoid a lot of fees.  Think 22 year old backpackers.  This is their heaven.

#3: Flying to small airports – Ever heard of Reus, Spain?  How about Beauvais, France?  That’s “Barcelona” and “Paris” in low-cost airline speak.  Many (but not all) of the airports that low-cost airlines fly to are outside of the major city where your hotel probably is.  In this case, you’ll probably pay about 15 Euros to take a bus for 1-2 hours.  In Weeze, Germany, I believe the bus we took into Dusseldorf was also owned by Ryanair, which is pretty genius.  When flying from London to Dublin, I booked a flight from Stansted and it required a one-hour train ride from London, adding another 30 BPs to the overall cost of the flight.  It makes sense that flying to smaller airports keeps costs low – and it’s usually not a big deal.  Just know how to get to the main city.

#4: Ryanair is popular – Well, yeah – Ryanair was kind of the pioneer in this market and their route coverage has just grown and grown.  After awhile I would just assume that Ryanair had a better/cheaper flight than its competitors.

#5: Charging to make reservations over the phone – I never called to book flights (I’d go to internet cafes), so I didn’t experience that first-hand.  I guess their argument is that people who use the online booking shouldn’t absorb the cost of paying customer service representatives that answer the phones.  Use the internet, it’s 2010.

#6: Almost never giving refunds – I would never have expected a refund from Ryanair.  They are pretty upfront about being a bare-bones airline, and I’m sure the other low-cost airlines are the same.  Also, if you don’t get a refund, you’re really not out that much money.

#7: People fly, in spite of their complaints – For me, the positives (cheap, good schedule) outweighed the negatives (slight inconveniences, occasional fees, minimal customer service).  There is certainly something to be said for the “if you don’t like it, go somewhere else” approach.  There were a couple of times I felt frustrated and declared that I would never fly a low-cost airline again, but that feeling only lasted until I got to a computer to try to book my next trip.

Low-cost airlines in Europe really are in a class of their own.  For most routes, it seems like they compete more with ground and sea travel than they really do with large, long-haul airlines.  I came to view the small airports like train stations – lines aren’t too long and you don’t need to be there very early.

Basically, if any other airline could offer better customer service, fly to bigger airports, and still be cheap – they’d run Ryanair out of business.  But it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, so for now low-cost airlines like Ryanair are your only choice and they know it.  Consider yourself warned and make sure to do your research.

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