Browsing Tag: Ryanair

Ryanair Boeing 737

Ryanair Boeing 737

On Friday I posted an email I received from Ryanair. I very much enjoyed the email and the interaction with Stephen McNamara, Head of Communications with Ryanair.

In the comments of the blog, I was asked how I replied to his email. I thought about a long reply, but settled on just thanking him for connecting with me and that I have corrected my blog. I was kind of hoping he would read the post I made and oh boy did he!

Here is his (unedited) email I received on Friday morning:

Hi David

While I  contacted the Seattle pi I will not be keeping a line of communication open with your blog – no disrespect but I simply don’t have the time (or resources) to correct the errors most bloggers come up with – but as you said, you have never flown with Ryanair so perhaps you are unaware that:

1.      They provide sub-par customer service (and are almost proud of it) – Wrong. Ryanair has the best on-time record, the least lost bags and the fewest cancelations of any major European airline.

2.      charge for everything – Wrong.  Ryanair allows passenger to avoid paying for any of the services that are factored into the cost of high fare tickets, the average fare with Ryanair (which includes a 25KG baggage allowance) is just €32 – compared to the next cheapest airline at €60.

3.      fly to smaller airports.  Wrong.  In some cases we do, but we also fly to many main airports (e.g. Berlin, Edinburgh, London and Madrid etc) and passengers, especially those who travel frequently realise that it is more comfortable and quicker to travel through smaller airports – while it also allows for cheaper fares which passengers would walk over hot coals to get to.

4.      but are one of the most popular airlines in the world – Wrong (but almost correct).  We are the world’s favourite airline per IATA statistics which show that Ryanair carried more international scheduled passengers than any other airline last year.

5.      They charge customers to call their customer service hotline – Wrong.  We don’t have a customer service hotline; passengers can contact customer service in writing only.

6.      and are well known for almost never giving refunds. Wrong.  While our fights are non-refundable we do provide refunds in rare cases of weather related cancelation (per EU 261 legislation) and in cases where they are entitled to a refund of government taxes and charges.  However, if a passenger is looking for a refund because their cat/dog/grandmother is sick they are not entitled to one, and won’t get one – per the Terms and Conditions they agreed to.

7.      Yet, they provide super low fares and passengers keep flying them. Correct – almost, it should really say and an increasing number of passengers fly them – Ryanair continues to grow thanks to our low fares while other airlines’ passenger numbers continue to collapse.

But I guess I can let you have that one – one out of seven ain’t bad – for a blogger!

Ryanair does ‘understand’ social media and that blogs are generally based on opinion (which is why we generally ignore them – unless they appear somewhere like the Seattle PI).  Far be it from me to preach on new media but like good journalists good blogs should be balanced and at least factual – if a blogger wants to blog about something by all means go ahead but if people are going to take the time to read a blog they should be confident that the blogger at least knows the facts and matches those facts with the entertainment value a blog provides.

Finally, re “I have updated my blog, but in my defense, major news organizations were covering this, like the BBC for example.”  Ryanair was contacted by the BBC and provided a statement which was carried in the piece and explained the situation – this however did not make it into your blog – which is why we contacted the Seattle PI – bloggers can not just take a story that entertains them and omit the facts – as you clearly did in this case.  Major news organisations provided balance, when you picked up the story from their sites you ignored that balance.

Regards

Stephen McNamara
Head of Communications

Ha! 1 out of 7 or about 14% right (according to Ryanair). Surprised I got the “Ryanair is one of the most popular airlines in the world” wrong.  How about the most famous Irish airline in the US or at least on my blog? Now most of the rebuttals are questionable and I know McNamara is doing his PR job to put the positive spin on his airline.

Like I have said, I have never flown them before, so not sure how to respond to these. For those of you who have flown them, care to add your opinion on his email?

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Image: skippyscage
Ryanair out does themselves this time!

Ryanair out does themselves this time!

I love Ryanair. Personally I have never flown them, but I have absolute respect for what they are able to accomplish. They provide sub-par customer service (and are almost proud of it), charge for everything, fly to smaller airports, but are one of the most popular airlines in the world. They charge customers to call their customer service hotline and are well known for almost never giving refunds. Yet, they provide super low fares and passengers keep flying them. I talk over and over again how powerful this business model is and how someday it might come to the United States. Passengers complain about bad service and fees, but they keep dealing with it, as long as they get the cheapest fare. How can we hold Ryanair responsible if people are willing to pay? I can’t, but I sure can blog about their shenanigans.

Ryanair will announce crazy things and sit around while the world media talks about it and gives them free press. I know I am guilty of this as well, but they provide such great material. Trying to get a comment from them, especially as a blogger, is nearly impossible. I have tried to make contact with Ryanair on multiple occasions with no luck.

This is why I was so giddy to see an email from Stephen McNamara, Head of Communications for Ryanair, in my inbox this morning. Yes, it goes to insult my integrity as a blogger, but man oh man, it was a welcomed surprise. Ryanair was actually talking to me…something not many bloggers can say!

So where to start?

A while back I blogged about Ryanair ditching passengers at a wrong destination with no help. Looks like I might have been wrong and I for that. I stated that due to weather, the Ryanair flight was diverted to Fuerteventura and then took off leaving the passengers stranded. McNamara corrects me:

“Ryanair flight FR 6766 Bournemouth – Lanzarote (17 Feb) diverted to Fuerteventura due to bad weather in Lanzarote. Ferries between the islands, which are used for the onward transportation of passengers in such cases, were also affected by high winds so passengers were provided with EU261 information which outlines their entitlement to provide receipted hotel expenses to Ryanair, for refund. Ryanair arranged ferries to carry affected Ryanair passengers to Lanzarote free of charge when ferries recommenced the following morning. Ryanair apologises to passengers for any inconvenience caused but can never put passenger convenience before passenger safety.”

No problem! I have recently heard from other sources that it seems there was one very unhappy passenger that turned this small story into Ryanair bashing. I have updated my blog, but in my defense, major news organizations were covering this, like the BBC for example.

Ok enough of the background information, let’s get to the fun parts of the blog. McNamara actually didn’t email me directly at first, but wrote to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, where my blog is syndicated. The syndication just pulls my RSS feed and they have no responsibility for my content, so passed the message on to me. In his first email McNamara states, “This blogger clearly likes to express his opinion without undertaking any research (to the detriment of professional bloggers who research their pieces and do not simply type the first stupid idea that comes into their head) I ask that this blog be removed.” Haha, that’s right, he said, “stupid idea,” man I love Ryanair. You know, writing about stupid and crazy ideas like charging for bathrooms, talking about “BJ’s” on flights, letting passengers smoke, making passengers stand to fly, and many more.

If I got this email from any other airline I would be horrified. I always try to keep positive when talking about airlines and have a professional relationships with the airlines I work with. Getting this from Ryanair is a total compliment in my mind. They are the elusive airline, that any blogger would love to have communication with. They are well known for brushing off bloggers as a waste of time. To know that McNamara is actually reading my blog and enough to write two emails responding to it… all I can say is, how awesome.

The Seattle PI, very professionally let McNamara know that they have no control over my content and since I am an independent blogger, he needs to write me directly. McNamara’s didn’t like that so much and wrote to both of us. His reply is so priceless, I just have to post the whole thing:

“Your answer is less than satisfactory and it is a damming indictment of the Seattlepi.com that you would allow clearly incorrect and biased information appear and remain on your site – brushing this off as an issue for the publisher is simply rubbish – it is on your site, you are the publisher.

If you were contacted by a reader over an article which contained racist or foul language for example, I am sure you would have the power to remove or edit the piece. Far from this simply being an issue for the independent publisher it is also your responsibility, as the site hosting the information. You are responsible for what appears on you site – David simply writes his opinions, as he is entitled to do – your site allows that opinion to be broadcast to the world.

I have cc’d this to David as instructed – however this underlines how irresponsible blogging and irresponsible hosting of such blogs, which fail to look at facts but simply provide biased opinion, undermines the worth of all blogs – to the detriment of those bloggers who display journalistic integrity and provide balance.

Regards

Stephen McNamara
Head of Communications”

Classic :). What is great is there is no comment about any of my other Ryanair posts or my Crazier Than Ryanair Medal, which I have plenty. I am hoping this means McNamara is open for me emailing him directly to “research” any future blogs I write about Ryanair — I am good with that.

Orig Image: Gerry Hill

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easyJet gets down and dirty, but Ryanair started it!

easyJet gets down and dirty, but Ryanair started it!

I can’t figure out if Ryanair and easyJet really hate each other or love the fact they can constantly fight. Recently they have been going at it over their advertisements. Ryanair struck first by asking why easyJet won’t publish their on-time numbers.

The ad shows Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the Founder of easyJet, with a Pinocchio nose and asking why easyJet says, “punctuality…is a top priority,” but hasn’t published their on-time stats for 37 weeks. Ryanair claims they have “lower prices and better punctuality than easyJet,” in the ad.

EasyJet struck back with their own ad pointing out that Ryanair states they fly to certain cities, but really fly to much smaller cities up to an hour away from the city advertised. This ad got Ryanair worked up and they complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), stating that easyJet was trying to accuse Ryanair of false advertising. The ASA ruled in Ryanair’s favor and the campaigned was banned.

Seems a little bit like Ryanair can dish it out, but doesn’t like to get dirty advertising back.

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Source: AirObserver
Sunset view looking at a Ryanair winglet over the Canary Islands

Sunset view looking at a Ryanair winglet over the Canary Islands

If you read the blog often you know I have a fascination with Ryanair. Well I think most people who follow the airline industry have a fascination with Ryanair. As American travelers complain about fees, yet still pay them, I think Ryanair might show a glimpse of the future if passengers keep demanding the lowest price possible. Ryanair is known for their cheap prices, tons of fees and a total lack of customer service.

Recently Ryanair showed their customer service skills by stranding passengers at the wrong destination.

Eager passengers were on a flight from the UK to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands when it was diverted to Fuerteventura (about 30 miles away) due to weather. Even though airlines have no legal obligations to pay for costs related to weather, most make accommodations for customers in this situation due to this thing called “customer service.”

Instead, Ryanair booted off the passengers, fueled up and took off, leaving passengers on their own. Since there was no staff at the airport, there was little chance to get help. Of course, they could have tried to fight it out on the phone, but  Ryanair charges by the minute to talk to a customer service representative.

Do I feel bad for these travelers? A little bit, I mean they lost a day of their vacation, had to get a hotel room, but flying on Ryanair is always a gamble. The old saying “you get what you pay for,” is quite accurate with Ryanair.

UPDATE 3/18/10: I just received an email from Stephen McNamara, head of communications for Ryanair who states the airline did provide ferry service to the passengers destinations. More can be found here.

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Image: GanMed64
Me, in the engine of a Boeing 777 at the Future of Flight

Me, in the engine of a Boeing 777 at the Future of Flight

This year has been amazing. 2009 brought some interesting blogs, a name change, syndication with the Seattle PI, coverage from multiple media outlets, some wonderful friends in aviation, travel around the country and much more.

I started this blog about a year and a half ago just to share my passion of commercial aviation with others. I started with only a few readers and now have thousands everyday. I have enjoyed the wonderful comments on my blog, syndication, and of course Twitter.

Looking back, in January 2009 I only wrote three blogs for the whole month and now, I work very hard trying to get one up daily. The task is not easy; I work a full-time job, own a house, have a wonderful girlfriend, and try to keep a decent social life. But I love following the airline industry and it seems some of you enjoy my perspective, so it motivates me to keep it up!

Next year is already looking great. I am currently working with a few airlines on some pretty cool projects I plan to take on early next year. I will also have a close relationship with the Future of Flight which has already inspired some of my blogs and allowed me to have VIP viewing of the Boeing 787 first flight. I also ask you, my readers, to think of interesting blogs you would like to see!

Now, to my top Airline Reporter blogs of this year. It was hard to choose just five of my favorite blogs, so I changed it to my top six (hey, this is my blog, I can do what I want 🙂 ). They might not have been the most read, but they are special to me for different reasons. Here they are in no particular order and why they are my favorite:

#1 AirTran’s Big News (part 4): Every AirTran Airways plane will get Wi-Fi

Back in May 2009 I was invited by AirTran to fly from Seattle to Baltimore to go on their special Wi-Fi media flight. This was still at a time where being an aviation blogger was new, I didn’t have a solid direction my blog was going and I had never had an experience like this previously. This event really opened my eyes to the potential of my blog. I was lucky enough to meet Benet Wilson with Aviation Weekly, Ben Mutzabaugh with USA Today, Joe Sharky aviation legend, and many others who are very inspiring writers.  The trip really started me thinking big and motivated me to aspire for bigger and original blogs.

#2 Pics and Video of Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s First Flight

What can I say about this? Being there in person on the Strato Deck at the Future of Flight, seeing the Boeing 787 take flight for the first time was absolutely amazing. 10 years from now, I am certain this post will make my “Top 5 blogs in the last 10 years.” Seeing this gorgeous plane lift off, while Boeing employees cheered them on, I felt so lucky to be there. I also got to meet the famous Flight Blogger Jon Ostrower to boot!

#3 Row 13: Why some airlines have it and others do not

I have wondered about row 13 for over 15 years. When I started to think about writing a blog on it in May, it took me five months to complete the write up (and posted it on Friday the 13th). When I started the research, I had no idea where it would lead me. Some airlines had no row 13 because of luck, another because of a canceled Boeing order. It was neat to make connections with many airlines and the fine folks at SeatGuru.com during my research.

#4 Mom Tells How Flying Used To Be

It is awesome that my mom has written a few blogs for me.  This one was my favorite where she took a look back at what flying used to be like. She didn’t just blame the airlines for treating people like cattle, but realizes that airlines have just been meeting passenger demand for cheaper flying.  Her story got put on the front page of the Seattle PI and got quite a bit of attention (something I was a little jealous about). People have really enjoyed reading her blogs and she is working on a few more for 2010!

#5 Putting Alaska Airlines 25 Minute Bag Guarantee to the Test

This one was just fun. I had just bought a car that was in Phoenix and a friend and I were flying down on Alaska Airlines to drive it back to Seattle (it was a great trip). I had just read that Alaska  started charging for checked bags, but was giving passengers a guarantee — your checked bag will be at baggage claim 25min or less after the plane reaches the gate or you get a $25 discount on a future flight or 2500 bonus miles. This was a  genius idea and I knew I wanted to cover it! It was perfect timing, since I already had booked my ticket on Alaska and I could put them to the test. I started my timer right as the plane stopped at the gate. It took us 15min 18sec to get from row 26 on the plane to baggage claim and the bag was already on the carousel. Good job Alaska Airlines! When I wrote the blog, they were planning to end the promotion at the end of the year, but since it has gone so well, they are extending it until at least July 31, 2010.

#6 Blogging on Ryanair

Ok, this is kind of cheating because it is not just one blog, but I just love blogging about Ryanair. I know that Ryanair says crazy stuff to get free media attention, but heck, I see it as win-win situation. In July I also gave out my “More Crazy Than Ryanair” medal (which I have more recently changed to “Crazier Than Ryanair”). Oddly I haven’t been able to give it out much since few airlines are crazier than Ryanair. I truly hope they can keep up the good (and crazy) times in 2010.

I wish everyone a wonderful and safe New Year!

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