Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary says his company's profits have been hit nearly 30% by the economic downturn and rising fuel costs. (Down to £26 million so he's hardly going bankrupt.) When asked about the economic situation he told the BBC "We can't keep bailing ourselves out with these
artificial interest rate cuts... We need to
tighten the belt and focus on reducing costs."
It made me smile. If anyone knows about shaving costs he does. There aren't even pockets in the seatbacks on his planes these days.
There seems to be a philosophy at Ryanair that goes
along the lines of: "You paid peanuts, so we're going to treat you like
monkeys." Cabin crew are the most unhelpful, agressive people. They almost seem to delight in it, just waiting for someone to get wound up by them so they can threaten to throw them off the plane. On a recent flight to Seville a guy asked quite politely if he could sit in the emergency exit isle. (Seats are not pre-assigned with Ryanair.) The flight attendant was stood in the first seat-space as is customary for boarding the plane. She could easily have stepped aside to let him take the window seat... but no way. When he persisted she told him in a loud voice (so we could all hear) that if he continued to be difficult she would have him chucked off the plane. Remarkable.
Thing is good service doesn't really cost much. It's about teamwork and attitude. The contrast with arch rival easyJet could not be greater. I've always found their crews friendly and helpful, even genuinely witty at times. Service might not be a huge factor in determining choice of low cost airline, but it does have an impact. I know who I'd rather fly with even if it costs me a few pounds more.
(Deprived of my seatback pocket, I left my sandwich wrapper on the floor... for them to pick up.)