I want to be proud of Ryanair, but they make it impossible
4 March, 2010
Not in any particular order, here are the things that annoy me most about flying with Ryanair. A complete list would be too long for me to write and for you to read. Yes, I know it’s been done before ad nauseum, and it doesn’t seem to make any difference to the way they run the airline, but just let me do it anyway; I feel it may be therapeutic for me to unburden my bottled up frustration by writing about it.
Inability to pre-book seats. Every other airline seems to be able to offer the possibility of assigned seat numbers. If you are travelling with another person, there is the sweat about whether you will be able to sit together. Yes I know you can pay for priority boarding, but this doesn’t work in places where you are delivered to the airplane by bus.
That infernal queue to board. The cattle-like queuing you see at every Ryanair departure counter from about 30 minutes before boarding actually starts is a pain for everybody. Why can’t they call people to board based on the sequence number printed on the boarding card, or based on a ticket collected at time of arrival at the gate? Not difficult for Ryanair, but I suppose treating passengers with a bit of dignity might ultimately cause a bit of inconvenience to the airline if the pesky passengers get the idea that they matter in some small way. Treat them like s**t and they won’t talk back.
The baggage weight limit. For an item of checked baggage, 15kg is ridiculous and seems designed to annoy passengers – an allowance of 20kg should be the minimum, or at least 18kg. Ryanair’s policy leads to people maximising the 10kg limit on carry-on baggage, and adds to stress levels on boarding, with passengers chasing inadequate overhead locker space. This is one of the causes of the cattle-like queuing referred to above. And the thing is, 15kg is a totally arbitrary limit. What’s the difference in cost for the airline between carrying a 90kg man with a 15kg suitcase, and an 85kg man with a 20kg suitcase? They don’t charge for passengers by weight.
Seats that don’t recline.
No seat-back storage.
The hidden extra costs when booking a flight.
Arbitrary limitations. On a recent flight (internal Spain) I was loudly told to stop using my mobile phone even though it was on “flight” mode and I was only using the MP3 player function. When I tried to explain, two flight attendants berated me and loudly said “no flight mode this flight!”
Selling those bloody lottery tickets. This is cheap hucksterism at its worst. And does anybody buy them?
Incomprehensible and rushed flight announcements by cabin attendants who speak poor English.
And so on. Other people post their gripes here. It makes grim reading.
As a result of all the above, and more, I only use Ryanair if their flight is the only suitable one from a scheduling point of view, or in the increasingly unlikely event that their fare (after adding in all the hidden extras) is way below the competition’s. I am always prepared to pay a large premium to avoid their arrogance and insensitivity.
Ryanair is losing customers and making enemies needlessly. As it’s a native Irish business, I want to be proud of it, and I want to be proud of it not just because it makes a lot of money for shareholders, and not just because its chief executive is a funny, smart and ballsy guy who exposes the hypocrisy and incompetence of politicians and public servants. I also want to be proud of it because of the way it treats its customers, but that’s not remotely possible at the moment.
Come on, Ryanair, it doesn’t cost anything to treat passengers with courtesy, as the low-cost operator Southwest Airlines shows. If you could do that, then not only would I be unreservedly proud of you, but I would give you lots more of my money.