Thursday, 14 May 2009

Is Ryan Air In Dreamworld?

Low cost airlines like Ryan Air have done a lot to broaden our travel habits - and that's a good thing. But, boy, can they be bad, bad people when they want to be.

Although my first experience of what Ryan Air loosely called 'Stockholm Airport' was irksome - we landed at an old Air Force base some 100km from the outskirts of Stockholm and the lady picking me up was furious as she had travelled for ages to get there. The way back was even better - a bus from Central Station was the only way to get there. It cost a fair bit and there was only one bus, so passengers, luggage and whatever clogged all the seats and the aisle to bursting point and still left stranded passengers at the Station who never made it to the flight. Incredibly, not one of them got their money back.

We all know about the madcap plans to charge a) for using the toilet and b) by weight of passenger, but here is something even more loony and irrational.

We are flying to Valencia with some friends in a short time. They are a couple with a small child under 2. They booked their flights via Ryan Air today and got the adult seats for £17.99 each one way and £7.99 on the way back - sounds great. In a bizarre twist, the price for the small child, under 2, weighing little more than a feather, is £20 each way - more expensive than any of the adult seats.

Here's the rub - when on board, the air staff will insist that the child is seated on an adult's lap and strapped in. The more expensive fair for a young child does not even buy a seat - it actually subsidises one for another adult.

Micheal O'Leary says it's all about choice. That has little to do with choice, that is deliberate prejudice and discrimination against passengers with a young child. Ryan Air has form on picking on specific groups as we know if you are disabled or need assistance in anyway. They see disability and young kids as profit opportunities. That the child fare does not even buy a seat despite being more expensive than an adult seat is just outrageous.

Blinding With Science

Stelios and O'Leary always answer any criticism with elaborate mumbo-jumbo about load capacities and demand but the reality is that every seat on the flight is equal and there are no compartments for other classes. Getting on is largely on a first come, first served basis. So there is absolutely NO EXCUSE for charging more on the same flight for a child under 2 who does not even get a seat.

Let me run that by you one more time - NO EXCUSE. Some fancy lawyer will no doubt select the right part of law that governs the rights of the consumer, the individual, the human even if they are under the age of 2, but in my book it is outright discrimination and profiteering.

'Ryan Air, the low cost airline' should be replaced by 'Ryan Air, the high profit airline'.

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