This is an email that a friend of mine recently sent me after he flew from London to Berlin on Ryanair. He’s letting me publish his story… enjoy!
Flight to Berlin for 50 euro? Bargain! Surely taxes and fees can’t be much. A 35 euro tax fee, 6 euro web-check-in fee, 30 euro checked baggage fee, 6 euro admin fee, and 2 euro screw-you-just-because-we-can fee later I grudgingly parted with 130 euro. Thinking 3 hours should be plenty of time to get there, I ended up getting held up by an accident on the motorway, and arriving exactly at the cut-off for checking in baggage, and despite it being a full 45 minutes before the flight departed, ‘rules are rules’ and I had to fork out another 100 euro for a flight a few hours later. Upon protesting, all I got was an emotionless stare, followed by, and I quote – “well don’t fly Ryanair then, I never would”. Somewhat worryingly, I then made it through security with a foot long sandwich wrapped in tinfoil. Who needs shoes, I could have easily been the next sandwich bomber.
The concept of lining up was clearly beyond this mass of swindled travelers, heading from all directions towards a tiny exit, ignoring the occasional ‘excuse me I paid for priority boarding’. Entering the cabin, I was greeted by a blindingly bright yellow ceiling that would be more at home on the back of a poisonous tree frog or gay banana. Below stretched a farm of sterile blue plastic seats that looked like they were taken straight out of a smurf porno. As if plastering the overhead lockers in tacky advertising wasn’t enough – we’re talking ‘buy buy buy, free free free, super extra premium gin rum vodka’ – they had actually glued the safety information cards to the back of the seats, completing a scene that had all the ambience of a south auckland brothel.
Not having been afforded the luxury of an allocated seat, I began the free-for-all squeeze down the aisle, desperate to avoid the almost inevitable fat-sweaty-guy, woman-with-baby or annoying-kid-kicking-back-of-seat. Soon giving up, I sat down next to two asian teenagers excitedly debating the relative powers of their Pokemon cards. Devoid of so much as an inflight magazine for entertainment, an excited announcement soon came over the PA ‘We invite you to buy Hello magazine – packed with the best in royalty, entertainment and celebrity for only 2 pounds 50′. Thanks but I think I’d rather poke my eyes out with chopsticks.
The seats themselves were packed so close as to make a baby leprechaun feel claustrophobic. Not surprisingly they didn’t recline, so I settled into a contorted lean that would make most battery hens look comfy. A while later, almost feeling the sweet tugs of sleep I awoke suddenly to feel a warm wet sensation on my shoulder. Clearly the Pokemon cards hadn’t been as exciting as they looked, as I now had a fresh sample of asian dribble on my shoulder. I usually like Japanese but normally the meat is served with rice and doesn’t move. Leaning over so far as to render the right half of my seat and armrest unusable, the next hour was punctuated by her following the usual sleeping-while-seated-upright pattern – head dropping forwards, then half-waking and jerking back upright again. Fun times.
As tempting as it was to spend 4 euro on a 150ml coke, I politely declined an inflight snack, only for it to followed up by another sales pitch. Clearly having missed her sales target on food, a disturbingly enthusiastic flight attendant then marches down the aisle promoting Ryanair scratchcards!! By now I half expected them to roll out an inflight pokie machine. So I wasn’t exactly surprised when this was followed by an announcement that they would shortly be selling cigarettes if anyone wanted to smoke them. What the hell? And then the duty-free sales pitch – ‘if you haven’t yet purchased anything, why not treat yourself to something special’. By this stage something special on this flight would have come in the form of a surface to air missile.
Clearly timed so that the wheels hitting the tarmac disguised the noise, some heffalump a few seats back let out a fart packing a punch that would rival Hiroshima. This was followed by a triumphant fanfare over the PA announcing that we’d arrived on time – not difficult when you allow 3 hours for a 2 hour flight. After a long taxi and painfully removing my hair stuck in the window blind, we came to a stop, and quickly stood to the synchronized slurp of sweaty asses peeling off the sterile plastic seats. Banging my head as usual on the overhead locker, I picked up my hand luggage and what was left of my dignity, and walked out like a POW seeing the sun for the first time in 10 years. I left the airport that day partly impressed by how they’ve managed to swindle their customers in nearly every conceivable way, and partly considering a career as a martyr.
The most frustrating part of all is having to travel again with Ryanair – the cattletrucks of the sky – 2 weeks later, this time forgetting to print my boarding pass and having to shell out 40 euro just to print another. Looks like a booking reference number isn’t enough, I should have remembered to pack my travel-printer…
Tips for Ryanair to generate more revenue:
- Design a toilet that weighs excrement, and does not allow the excretee to leave until it is paid.
- Separate fees into take-off & landing fees. Advertise the takeoff fee but don’t mention the landing fee until passengers board.
- A toilet paper vending system, 10 cents per piece. If you have insufficient change you have to improvise.
- In the event of a crash, let those that paid for priority boarding escape first…