Wednesday, 2 September 2009


Recently, and for the first time in my life, I booked some flights with Ryanair.

I appreciate this is a budget airline, and you pays your money and takes your chance, but I think the pricing strategy sucks. To put it bluntly, Ryanair are thieving pikey arseholes.

Three return flghts from Bristol to Montpellier in the South of France were billed on the website at £10.98 per person (£9.99 in one direction and 99p in the other), giving a combined cost of £32.94 which appears to be quite a bargain.

But no, no, no, I additionally had to pay luggage charges for 2 checked in bags, a total of 40 quid (for a measly allowance of 15 kilos per bag – 5 kilos less than most other airlines). And heaven forbid if you go over – you will find yourself forking out a mighty £15.00 per kilo excess weight.

Airport taxes added £56.50 per person (£169.50 for the three of us), and I really believe that above all, this charge should be included in the initially displayed flight cost.

On top of this there was the mandatory charge for checking-in online of £5.00 per person per flight (a further 20 quid) to in effect do most of Ryanair's job for them, as alongside paying the fee there was the additional hassle of going on-line nearer the time of departure, to fill in all the necessary documentation: names/ages/passport numbers etc. and then having to print off 6 boarding cards. If I didn’t bother with online check-in, or lost my print-out it would have cost me a whopping 40 quid per person per flight (£240 for the three of us!) at the airport.
And finally I was charged five quid per person per flight just for the privilege of actually paying them with a credit or debit card. Apparently there is currently no charge if you pay using a Visa Electron card, but I don’t have an Electron card, nor do I know anyone else who has,or even how to go about acquiring one.

So for our seemingly bargain flights of £32.94, we in fact paid £302.44.

And if I was foolish or careless enough, there were plenty of other opportunities to find myself being screwed:

Excess baggage charges of £15.00 per kilo per flight could soon mount up, as would a £30.00 fine for being unable to cram my duty free purchases into my hand luggage.

Priority boarding is another scam as it doesn't actually guarantee you a better seat for the £3.00 per person per flight charge, although in fairness gives you a slightly better chance of your preferred seats. Luckily, I love to board as late as possible and leave it until the very last minute, so that I can have a few extra pints in the airport lounge, and then joyfully watch the look of sheer disappointment on the face of the victim I elect to plonk myself down next too before farting, belching, scratching my balls and then falling asleep and snoring loudly. There's no point in being the first on the plane and send extra minutes crammed in like sardines, when save a crash, everyone will reach their destination at the same time.

Should I be of a musical persuasion I would be charged £30.00 per flight to bring on board a musical instrument - so next time I fly with Ryanair I might actually consider taking along a grand piano just to see how the bastards deal with it.

Rumour has it that Ryanair is contemplating installing coin operated toilets in their aircraft, which will force you to spend a pound to spend a penny or maybe a euro to euronate. Rather than pay-per-view it will be pay-per-poo. Just where will it end?

I am just waiting to find out when Ryanair will start charging to use the oxygen masks and inflatable jackets in case of emergency.

In reality I wouldn’t mind paying 300 quid for 3 flights if there was a bit more transparency up front. The Ryanair way simply causes ill feeling and smacks of poor customer satisfaction and deception.

So, I hear you ask, for my 300 quid, how was the Ryanair experience?

Well, checking-in was straightforward enough at both ends and getting on and off of the aircraft was quick and efficient. The planes themselves seemed well maintained although the interiors have a very cheap plastic appearance and feel, and are garish yellow and blue in colour; the seats are extremely uncomfortable and there is little in the way of legroom, ok for a wee little Irish leprechaun I suppose, but not for an average person. In fact it feels more like a service bus for midgets than an airline.

The cabin crew on the way over were friendly, polite and helpful and I could find no fault in their attitude, but unfortunately those on the return flight were downright bloody miserable, unhelpful, and it was obvious for all to see that there was a personality clash between two of them. Amusingly, the chief stewardess at one point even swore in front of one female passenger who proceeded to then argue with her and was heard to utter “you are the worst aircrew I’ve ever had the misfortune to fly with”! So that encounter was at least priceless from my POV.

Although I didn't indulge in any of the delightful food (don't think there wa a vegan option) and drink on board. This was a further example of Ryanair's extortionate pricing system with a coffee costing £2.80, a chicken Caesar wrap a fiver, and a 25ml shot of spirits £4.00.

Both flights left on time and arrived early, so there can be no complaint there, and upon disembarking they swiftly got the checked-in luggage to us.

A cheap and cheerful experience it certainly wasn't, expensive and miserable more like, and with less frills than a pair of Ena Sharples' wartime knickers.