We All Thought United Was Bad. Be Happy You’re Not Flying on Ryanair

I cast a bit of shade at Ryanair when they were the only airline who didn’t respond to my Tweet about How I Could Make Sure I Would Sit With My Kids if I flew with them. I did find it quite funny that while the airline didn’t respond, one of their parody accounts tweeted back to me with this response.

Ryanair Parody

It turns out the CEO of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, was saving his response for a larger audience. While on RTE Radio 1 this Tuesday, he responded to claims about his airline splitting up couples who purchased random seating assignments.

So if you want to sit where you want on a Ryanair plane, pay the €2 fee and sit wherever you want.  I mean, it’s kind of refreshing to hear a CEO say that we’re gonna charge you for everything and it’s up to you if you pay it or not. If you don’t pay, then don’t complain, or whinge, about it.

Ryanair CEO

Mr. O’Leary went on to say “The algorithm changes as demand for reserved seats changes. Are you likely to be split up if you have selected a random seat? Yes you are, because that’s what random means.”

If this was the only thing that Ryanair charged for I’d be in agreement with him. That’s not a huge amount to pay for a seat assignment. It also means you need to pay €4 if traveling with a child to make sure you’re both seated together but I still think that most parents would feel that is a small price for the peace of mind it affords. However, it’s the other “penalties” that Ryanair charges that are really contemptible.

  • Do you need to check in at the airport? – €50
  • Checked in but forgot or damaged your boarding pass? Reprinting fee – €15
  • Spelled your name differently on your reservation from your ID? – €160
  • Checked bag fee – paid in advance for 15kg – €10 – €50
  • Is that bag over 15kg? Excess fee paid at airport – €10 / £10 PER KILO

That’s not to mention if your bag doesn’t fit into the smaller than industry standard sizers to make it on the plane. If you need to check the bag that’s an additional €60 to check it plus any extra weight charges. These fees makes the €2 they charge for a seat assignment seem small. However it has earned Ryanair the title as the airline people love to hate. So much that they’ll print a boarding pass 16 times normal size to make sure the gate agent will be able to read it.

If only United would be this honest about their Basic Economy fares. Just this week, the President of United Airlines, Scott Kirby, said this to the stock market community on the quarterly earnings call. (bold type for emphasis)

 We’ve been willing to be uncompetitive on price in the short term as we try to get this sorted out what it’s going to look like for the next 20 years instead of worrying about the next 2 months. I think by the end of the year we’ll have a position where everyone all the big network carriers will have rolled out Basic Economy throughout their whole system. And at that point I think Basic Economy will be more of a tailwind. It’s less of a tailwind right now because you can get our standard product on our competitors for the same price you can get Basic Economy on United. We get benefits from selling up more customers but I’m sure we lose some share as a result of that as well.

So United is willing to say they are offering an inferior product at the same price as their competitor’s superior offerings in the hope that EVENTUALLY the other airlines will revert down to the level United has lowered the bar to and then United will be OK. In the mean time, United can still make money from the people who are not willing to pay for the lousy Basic Economy tickets and pay the extra to “sell up.”

Get ready everyone, it’s a race to the bottom and United is willing to take the lead. I hope you brought your quarters to pay for the toilets on the plane (This never actually happened).

I’m curious if anyone has flown on Ryanair? We could have flown it on our trip to Salzburg but Sharon strictly refused solely on principle. I’m wondering if it is as bad as the rumors we hear about it. It really can’t be much different than Spirit or Frontier, can it?

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1 thought on “We All Thought United Was Bad. Be Happy You’re Not Flying on Ryanair”

  1. I’ve flown Ryanair from the UK to Ireland, Italy, Germany and several more European countries. Yes it’s basic but it’s a budget airline that doesn’t pretend to be anything else. The random seat allocation is not going down well over here but O’Leary is well known for his take it or leave it attitude and he still has full planes. Many of the additional costs you identify above can be avoided with a bit of planning. Not sure about US sizes for hand luggage but the budget airlines over here all have more or less the same size and all publish the figures, so people just need to get a tape measure out. I don’t like the lack of space (too many seats) or the repeated attempts to sell you lottery tickets on board but if I can fly Liverpool to Dublin for £40 return that will do me.

    PS If you want a very funny take on the budget airline business, search for the song “Cheap Flights” by Fascinating Aida on YouTube (5 million+ hits)

    Like

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