Ryanair = Southwest Airlines (not)

21 June, 2011

I had the dubious pleasure  of flying Ryanair again recently.  I repeat all my previous comments (here) about how they manage to make travel annoying.

This one is a particular bugbear:

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.

The Economist had a piece recently about Southwest Airlines:

Southwest’s main advantage is that its rivals often treat passengers like cargo. Not only do they squeeze them into seats that make dentists’ chairs seem comfortable, but they do so with an air of ill-concealed resentment. …….It is the small things that make the difference. Southwest still gives out free peanuts, an oddly emotive subject among travellers. It lets passengers switch their flights often, for no extra charge. Most importantly, perhaps, it does not charge for checked-in luggage. Bob Jordan, Southwest’s vice president for strategy, reckons that charging for bags would have given the airline an additional $300m a year. But bag fees are so irritating that Southwest decided to go without.

And to think that Southwest Airlines was supposedly the model that Ryanair originally followed!  Michael O’Leary has obviously cherry-picked the bits that suit his unusual worldview, and discarded the bits that involve being courteous to passengers (even where it costs nothing).


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