Ryanair.con - The no cares airline

I was doing the unthinkable, on the brink of breaking my new year’s resolution, booking a flight home from Pisa to London, with Ryanair.  The reasons for my personal boycott of this particular no frills, no thrills airline were perfectly valid but it was a long time ago since I last flew with them.  Surely it couldn’t still be that much of an unpleasant experience?  They were still operating, after all.

So, at my computer I negotiate my way through the online booking process, lured in by the illuminated strobe candy !!€7 until midnight!! (I think that refers to the price of the snack pack on board, which doesn’t come with a drink by the way.  What kind of snack is that?).  In the extra cost field I dodged the default priority boarding tab and the automatic travel insurance, backed up the automatic text message alert truck, hurdled across the branded Ryanair luggage purchase (please!) and jumped all over the recommended hotel and car hire bookings…with the skill of the penitent Indiana Jones “kneeling” before God to claim the holy grail. 

Moment of hesitation: Number of bags to check in? Sod it, Indiana Jones only needed his leather satchel and his hat, I’m not paying to cart around two pairs of extra shoes.  I’m taking one pair of shoes, and they’ll be on my feet at check-in.  I was only going for 2 nights after all. Laptop can go in my hand luggage next to shoes, a couple of pairs of knickers and socks, a few tops, mandatory chunk of Parmesan cheese for my brother, and off I go…

As outbound flights go, this one wasn’t too bad.  No one weighed my bag at Pisa airport or seemed to mind me carrying a small handbag in addition to my carry-on case, which I was prepared to put inside the case if necessary – I was playing by the rulesCabin seatsApart from the roller coaster, get to know your neighbour, bright yellow seats and the ridiculous trumpet sounding on landing celebrating that we were all still alive and Ryanair had managed to land on time (sorry, should we be thanking them for sticking to a timetable?) I arrived at Stansted relatively unfazed.

A curry in Brick Lane, a filling of London Pride, a spring picnic in the park with the family and a Kate & William memorabilia tea towel purchase later, I was back at Stansted, and here I should have foreseen a challenging journey ahead after my first error of purchasing a jar of farmhouse pickle as a gift to my cheese loving Italian buddies BEFORE passing through security.  I checked with 3 different airport staff before accepting that chutney was indeed a liquid and therefore a clear threat to passengers, and proceeded to offer the freshly purchased product to newly arrived visitors to the UK.  A nice gesture, I thought, seeing as the alternative was to bin it.  Surprising though, how difficult it is to persuade people at airports that you offering them a jar of chutney is neither strange, nor dangerous.  In the end a happy German couple queuing for train tickets were delighted to take the English relish of my hands.

Next up: security.  My bag got sectioned and swabbed, as I’d forgotten a small pair of scissors in my bag, which they ended up letting me take on board – obviously less of a threat than chutney – but after a quick rummage through my dirty laundry and emptying the contents of my wash bag, I was on my way.  Realizing I didn’t have too long until my gate closed I whizzed through the terminal, stopping to buy a 5 litre (travel size!) bottle of water and two enormous boxes of roses chocolates from the giant duty free shop.  It had all gone far too smoothly and just as I was smugly sailing towards the gate without a care in the world, ready to embrace Ryanair back into my life…I was unwittingly snared, in a beeline straight to the lions’ den…the Ryanair post check-in, post-security, post plastic bag filling and liquid rejecting, pre-boarding team, spanning the arrival into the departure gates like defenders on the backline. The home strip of crisp royal blue, sensible shoes and hair lacquered into a second scalp, poised.  Out of nowhere, into my ear hole: “You’ve got three bags madam, you can only have one.” Ooh this guy was good…a winger in an orange bib covering the sideline.  “Excuse me?”  I said.  “Yep, going to have to throw some of that away madam”

Now the thing here is that I hadn’t even had the chance to prepare by putting my handbag into my case and rearranging the water bottles and chocolates to look like it was my on board snack. Caught, red-handed, over the limit. I had to think fast.  I moved away with a faint smile as if to say “Ok…I’ll just go over here and throw away…erm my computer” and I headed towards the ladies room.

Blocked by a blue suit with a huge weighing scale.  “Bag on here please madam”.  I was prepared now.  “I’m just going to the toilet actually!”  “We need to weigh your bag first.  On here please…and boarding pass.”  Bugger.  There was nothing for it, short of making a dash for it, but then I wasn’t in a Richard Curtis movie and I did actually want to get on the plane.  I watched the scale register 11kg and was relieved, thinking that, being only 1kg over the limit they’d be lenient, smile and say “please keep it to 10kg next time, including the roses chocolates.”  Instead my boarding pass and freedom to travel was whipped from my hand. “That’s £35, cash or card?” “I’m sorry?”  “You’ll have to check this bag in.  £35 pounds, over there.” I could have screamed. Ryanair gate bag receipt

I looked over to the other side of the desk where another passenger, an elegant Englishwoman was trying to choose between a copy of Eat Pray Love and Hello! Magazine.  Taking both would apparently take her over her weight limit.  Behind me the orange bib was darting across the crowds, currently explaining to a flustered father of three, carrying a baby in one arm and a bag of food in the other, that “he’d have to throw one of them away.”

No mercy: those that made a run for it were called back and cash was shed.  I was sure I could hear the spritely credit card machine “ping” like a cash register every five seconds after “making a sale” as the guilty passengers, oddly enough, pretty much all of them, were rounded into line to pay their penance for buying that bottle of whisky on offer in the terminal, as a present for grandpa.  I simply couldn’t resist asking the kind lady processing my credit card what she thought of all this.  Without looking up she calmly reeled off the tongue for the umpteenth time that day “Just doing my job madam, trying to make a living”.

Now this is fair enough but I, for one, was trying to protect my own hard earned living, and to give Ryanair a second chance. I was then informed, again devoid of eye contact or any ounce of compassion, that “each airline is free to operate as they wish madam and it’s all written out very clearly in the booking terms and conditions…” I decided not to point out that by the time anyone reads the terms and conditions online, and returns to the booking screen they have “missed” their window and have to start all over again.  We ended up missing our own take-off slot because it took everyone too long to squeeze their bursting cases and spare children into the overhead lockers, but once we were on our way the staff were quick to entertain us with offers of glittering scratch cards where, amongst other prizes, we could win…a Ryanair flight.  Er…no thanks.

There was no trumpet on landing this time!

How comforting to discover that websites like www.ihateryanair.org exist!

Joëlle Edwards is an English event and wedding planner, working in exclusive venues across Italy. She recently moved to Florence from London, after having lived and worked in Switzerland, Palermo and Barcelona.
You can reach her at info@joellemarie.co.uk
Visit also: www.joellemarie.co.uk

28 COMMENTS

  1. DarrenWe also book Ryanair, on there website. We find there are the foniwollg reasons are main ones customers use us for no frills airlines.1. They want the cheapest flight but not the hassle of trolling though websites looking for it(Time poor customers). See example I gave about BA and Ryanair pricing before, on some routes there can be a dozen airlines.2. They are unsure or have made a mistake in the past, and from previous posts we know how expensive that can be.3. No internet connection4. They like to book a package where all is arranged and protected in one price.5. Something’s gone wrong in the past eg hotel not being there etc.6. They will not use there cards on the web (Yes a lot of people feel this way)7. Protection. Example; all customers who booked Silverjet though a travel agent in the UK where ATOL protected and got there money back.RE. When I get a little bit of time I’d like to create a page with the different scenario’s to help consumers. Would anyone be up for helping me out with this? Or is it mission impossible? I really do think we need something to help consumers online. Of course I help you, just send the questons to my work address, not one I leave here and I will do my best to help.

  2. In Sweden the government funded Consuer advice service which is an agency resolving issues betwwen the public and companies and then check cases for laws, rules and regulations, found that Ryanair refuse to follow advice to pay compensation in 60% of all cases (which is just unheard of).

    Scandinavian Airlines Systems SAS on the other hand follow 100% of advise to rectify issues as indicated byy the Allmäna Reklamationsnämnden ARN.

    Another good reason to give “the greedy Irish” a miss

  3. ryanair is for poor people and thats it. ba gives you free check in bags/food/drinks/alcohol, and peace on board no crying kids and no non stop announcements.its worth to pay more

  4. Wow! Check out the Ryan Air PR team working over time on the last 2 comments – it’s as if you’d insulted them personally! Maybe next time ditch the chocs and get them mail ordered on the internet when you get back – be cheaper than the £35 fine. Either that or do like me and wear a coat with large pockets and if push comes to shove, which it usually does fairly promptly with Ryan Air, then just empty the contents of your bag into them and watch the twitches work their way around the face of the staff member as he realises that he’s on the wrong end of his own rules for a change.

  5. Wow – what an incredibly inflated ego you have! What makes you think the rules don’t apply to you? Ryanair provide an amazing service for those people who have prioritised cheap travel over luxurious. It is utter stupidity not to adhere to their rigorously implemented policies – especially as you had personal experience flying with them. Check in online. Only bring one bag. What is it that people find so difficult? I suppose I should actually thank you – the income garnered through extra charges from morons like yourself no doubt contribute to the low fares for people like me!

    • Dear Jayloord,

      Thank you for your comments.  I just wanted to clarify that I am not someone who looks to breaks the rules and is consequently annoyed at being caught.  On the contrary, as a traditional Brit, I find it hard to jump a queue or a red light and I am very respectful of appropriate rules.  My point is that, in my opinion, Ryanair’s marketing is misleading and the rules are not made easy to follow.  I am happy that you are a satisfied Ryanair customer and are fully up to speed with all their rules and regulations.   I too am now happy to be a BA customer, where I am treated like a person instead of a number, and where the baggage allowance of 23kg plus an item of hand luggage, included in the advertised ticket price, allows me plenty of space to carry around my incredibly inflated ego!  I hope that my not paying any further Ryanair charges doesn’t affect the low fares too much!

      P.S. Keep your Ryanhair on!!

      • Great – you should fly the way you desire. Im glad that you have found a carrier that does not operate with such shady, misleading hidden charges (that are clearly displayed before paying for). Personally, id rather spend the extra money at a restaurant in Talinn than stretch my legs out for an hour with a glass of warm pinot grigio and a plastic ready meal.

    • Uh, exactly Jayloord. You admit your fare is subsidized by people like the person who wrote this article. It’s factored into their cost of doing business and done so purposely. Let me explain to you why this is an unethical business practice. You say “Well you should of read the rules.” Yes! You are right. Nobody is disputing that. But Ryanair KNOWS many people don’t know how Ryanair works or just buy a ticket in a hurry. People expect bad service, but nobody would expect the kind of fees Ryanair charges. If Ryanair could legally they wouldn’t even write a warning or disclaimer on their website. You can’t deny that. The rules are there for no other reason than to be used as the vehicle to extract more money from people. Case in point, rules are written with the goal of making things safer, faster, more convenient for everyone involved, the company and other customers. Many of these rules serve no other purpose other than to be a hurtle to ignorant people with the ultimate goal of extracting fares BA and others charge with unimaginably worse amenities, service, and convenience that BA would charge. Thus the “rules” are written, by their very definition, in bad faith.

      Anyways couple “A” are used to travelling on airlines such as BA, Swiss, Lufthansa and other flag carrier airlines.They book a flight with Ryanair with little knowledge that this airline is very, very different. Even compared to traditional budget airlines. They are happy they only pay a fare that is less than half a normal carrier would cost. They arrive at the airport and they are held hostage until they pay all the ridiculous fees Ryanair charges (boarding pass fee, unusual luggage fee, weight fee, extra bag fee, customer service fee, and so on).

      If they refuse or don’t have enough money Ryanair keeps their money and resells their ticket for vastly higher prices. If they do pay they end up paying what BA or others would charge, and they get VASTLY worse service than BA and others charge while paying BA prices, all to subsidize you. IE no meals, no drinks, awful cramped seats, being harassed every 5 mins to buy something, and most importantly being flown to an inconvenient or budget airport.

      This is an ethical business practice to you, because you are “in on it”. Most people are not “in on it”. It’s almost like a pyramid scheme or some type of racket.

      • (sighs)…

        Ummm…. Pyramid scheme? Thats gold – really.
        Are you seriously arguing that Ryanair has a responsibility to match the business models of their competitors, or risk being labelled unethical? Where does that logic end? Ill say it again – print your boarding pass, just take one piece of hand luggage. If you screw up, and it costs you money, lesson learned. They still got you where you needed to go. If you want to pay extra to have somebody invoke within you a sense of importance – to massage your ego and whatever else –  top up your drinks and tell you everything is just great – then pay extra to fly with a carrier who does that. Me? I just want to see the world…

        Would couple A as you have described them – not wonder why their fare is considerably cheaper than their usual flag carriers? Any diligent consumer surely knows that a drop in price is usually accompanied by a drop in quality – in this case the “quality” being the unnecessary comforts.

        It is YOU who is making the decision to travel. When the time comes, and all the charges are displayed, it is YOU who enters into the contract. Saying you did it in a rush, or you didnt read the rules is an argument that has absolutely no merit – none whatsoever.

        I should feel bad about benefitting from the ignorance of others? I am “in on it” – this “secret society” of European travel (actually – watch out for the subtle winks we exchange with the staff on embarkation)? Well, I think that people who are caught out by Ryanair are forced to become more discerning consumers. If you’ve been caught out through your own ignorance, then you can use that knowledge to protect yourself – in any walk of life. “Read the fine print”. Its a valuable lesson, i feel – and if the price to pay to learn that lesson is £40 at a boarding gate, then its a cheap one in my opinion – and should act as a catalyst to becoming a more disciplined and empowered consumer.

        The people who are angry at the business practices of Ryanair, are ultimately, only embarrassed at their own failure to properly understand the terms of their contracts. Its always easier to blame someone else. Grow up, read up, and take responsibility for any interaction that you have – financial or otherwise.

        • Yes, with the era of e-boarding tickets which are indisputably cheaper and quicker than printing out a ticket at home, it is absolutely understandable to pay 60 pounds should you forget a boarding pass. That makes perfect sense. It is not at all to get money out of people in bad faith so they can legally advertise they have fairs to Cyprus for 10 pounds and at the same time get people like you to rave about them for their cheap fairs. Also understandable there are third party kiosks who will print out boarding passes for Ryanair at a literal fraction of the cost at the airports Ryanair operates from instead of Ryanair adding a few pennies to each ticket so they could provide those kiosks themselves.

          Listen nobody is saying what they are doing is illegal and you are right everyone should read all the fine print before agreeing. But when is the last time you bought a piece of software and skipped over the EULA and found out you bought only a chance to win that piece of software? Again both legal, but both absolutely morally bankrupt.

  6. I love Ryanair, unlike you. Their cheapest fares are so cheap, at least if you travel only with hand luggage, pay with a prepaid Mastercard, dont forget to print out the boarding pass and make sure your hand luggage isn’t heaver or bigger than it’s supposed to. In other words: Follow their stupid rules ;-). I was in London last year, attending a concert, and the flight cost just 60 cent (euros). 60 cent! And that’s what I paid; I didn’t pay any of their effing fees.

    • I agree that when it works out you can get a very cheap flight, as you did in this case.  I used to fly with them all the time for this reason, the rules were clearer and you knew what you were getting.  My point is that now the rules are simply not made easy to follow.

      • The rules are very easy to follow. I have flown with Ryanair more than one hundred times, and knew what was required from the first flight. The airline is efficient, the staff polite and I get to exactly where I want to go without any fuss and incredibly cheaply. I have to say my only complaint is as to some of the passengers who are a total embarrassment with their their inability to stick to a simple requirement to not exceed a handbaggage allowance of ten kilos (ten kilos !!!!!!!!!!!!! that;s an awful lot). Some of the moronic – and I have to say – mostly English passengers – who tend to flout the rules are cringeworthy especially the onees who attempt to test out the size of their clearly oversized handbaggage in the Ryanair framed and they are so big that they get stuck – hilarious really.
        Do what Mr O’Leary suggests and you won’t go far wrong. Ryanair is a bus with wings – ti get people where they want to go cheaply. I am absolutely delighted with the service and to all the moaners (some of whom have probably never been on a Ryanair Flight) go the hell somewhere else and pay ten times as much

  7. What is wrong with people saying deal with it? Traveling should be enjoyable, you should pay for it. There should be a set standard for airline travel. We are dealing with metal objects flying through the sky with hundreds of lives on them. No hoax of a company should run a business like this. It would be like putting Paris Hilton in charge of the NHS.

  8. Same happened to me, except they wanted £40 this time, and the staff was just unbelievably rude. I say, there is no excuse.

  9. I empathise with you the whole way – a poor excuse for an airline, in fact so poor that the company I work for has banned our using them due to the sharp cost increase over and above the advertised fare price.

    Like you I got caught out by the scales at Stansted, but when confronted asked to see a valid calibration certificate for the device.  After many threats and so on they permitted me to board without paying any penalty.  You see, I weighed my bag before I left the office and the supposedly overweight luggage (11.5 kgs) had previously been proven to weigh only 9.23 kgs on some properly calibrated scales.  Strange that….

  10. What are you complaining about? You admitted in your report that you broke the rule’s with your hand baggage and that you didn’t read your terms and conditions. You also mentioned that you tried to scarper away, with the excuse of going to the ladies toilets and were stopped by a member of staff who had seen that trick done a million times by ignorant people that think everyone should bend the rules for them. People need to get used to the fact that ryanair is one of the few airlines that make a rule and sticks to it. Follow the rules to the letter and you’ll have a cheap flight. Rant over

  11. The ONLY answer is simply not to fly with them, EVER. I for one will dance a merry little jig the day that nasty operation folds….

    • Fair enough! But that’s the point…people can end up pretty much paying £200 after all the hidden costs on a Ryanair flight and if they knew this price from the outset then I’m sure they’d choose BA any day…

    • Also as addon to what JE said, this is a latest thing from Ryanair and still doing it today, and without going into details for legal reasons the scales are faulty.. ie its a way to make £35 which in most cases you wont avoid unless you take no hand luggage. So like what JE said once you add the costs some are added only afterwards (this £35 is the latest one.), one before is fares increase if book as a return / book in your currency or a disabled passenger, etc.. I myself are now thinking of different options for future, and might even just forget my outward flight and just write it off.

      Anyway for a more cheerful note 🙂
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSJwzYiB_Pc
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Idd32nyf1pc
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAg0lUYHHFc
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_nqwAKCq-Q

      • Ciao Iceburn, thank you for the comment and for the videos…they are amazing (especially the 3rd (Fascinating Aida) and the 4th (the Ryanair comedy song)..clever and funny! ;))

  12. Genius.

    The trumpet fanfare is now ringing in my head though now, so thanks for that.

    Do they still have those Bullseye Baggies, buy one get one free! Vodka, Gin…RUM! Ahahah happy days!!!

  13. Great article, thank you Joelle!!!
    I hope that the Ryanair management will read it! I recently paid to Ryanair 40 pounds extra because I forgot to do the check in online…(and I’m happy to announce that the European Court said that this practice is against the European Laws!)..
    Next time train! 😉

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