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Airline Review: Reasons I’ll never fly Ryanair again

From:     Jakkals
Category: Consumer
Date:     02 February 2010
Time:     05:17 AM


Airline Review:   Reasons I’ll never fly Ryanair again

1.	Price: Just for fun I just tried to book a bargain £5 flight from London to Dublin. By the time I
got to the payment section, the total round trip cost for one passenger, on the cheapest flights
listed was £69.98. That was including the only truly optional extra, one checked bag each way (£15
each way if booked online, £35 each way otherwise). The other “optional fees/charges” aren’t
optional at all – you have to check in (£5 each way online, £10 otherwise) and there’s only one way
of paying that avoids the £5 each way “administrative” charge , regarding which the Office of Fair
Trading accused Ryanair of being "puerile and childish").

2.	“Optional Costs:” Are the added costs “optional”? The only “extra” I asked for was a checked bag
– how many people can carry enough clothes to get everything in the one free carry-on bag (10 kg
allowed, including toiletries, a book or two, a second pair of shoes)? I’ve seen people quoted as
saying that it is cheaper to buy the clothes you want at your destination than to pay the check-in
charge, but assuming you want to bring your new clothes back, you have £15 to spare to buy new
clothes. Must be really low clothes prices somewhere that nobody has told me about! 

This is the financial reality of Ryanair’s claim that they can keep prices low by not including
costs of items not everyone wants – like boarding cards?
Beware the ubiquitous “prices from…” phrase, and not just when you see them in airline ads.

3.	Check in: Want to get a seat assigned? No way. Get priority boarding?  £4 per person per leg to
get on among the first passengers. Want to take sports equipment? No problem, just £40 per item each
way. Second check-in bag? Only for Bill Gates – £35 each way (or £70 each way if you don’t do it

4.	On Board joys: No seat pockets! Never seen this before on any airline. Put your newspaper or book
on the floor, then. Does this keep your fare down? (Let’s not even talk about legroom). And of
course we all know better than to buy food or drink on a plane, those luxuries – like water – that
used to be included in the price of a ticket. On Ryanair a half-litre bottle of water, for example,
will cost you about five times the cost of petrol and 30 times what it would in your local
supermarket. Buy it in a boarding area shop – not cheap compared to outside the airport but not £6 a

5.	“Customer service” – an oxymoron: Perhaps someone will start a FawltyAir company sometime and
take the prize from Ryanair, but they’ll have to work very hard to do that.

 A few months ago I booked a return flight (London-Tenerife) on Ryanair. (The £16.45 per person for
each leg in the ad came to a total of £175.53, and that is before we added a single check-in bag for
another £30).

Aha! I noticed a charge of £12.59 for insurance. I thought I’d declined this, but apparently you
have to do this for each passenger and I’d only done it once. No problem. The flight was three
months off and I’d just cancel the insurance. One quick phone call – oh, how naive can I be?  The
10p per minute customer service phone number had me holding a while; I could have tried the
“priority assistance” number, but at £1 per minute didn’t seem a cost effective option. 

Simple alternative -- e-mail them! No e-mail addresses on their website, so I turned to Google.
Found five e-mail addresses of various managers and wrote to each requesting cancellation of the
insurance and a refund of my 12 quid. Not a single reply (except an automated “out of office”
message from two of the addresses – evidence that the addresses were getting the message to people
at Ryanair). OK, back to the 10p telephone number; eventually got through the telephone tree to a
human, to whom I explained what I wanted. “No,” he said, “no refund.” Why, I asked? “Policy,” he
replied irrefutably.

Stymied, I disputed the charge through my credit card company and after numerous e-mails, telephone
calls, and forms sent to them by regular mail I got my 12 quid back. Probably cost me more than that
in calls and postage, not to mention several hours of my time, but a moral victory nevertheless.

But Ryanair still had one more trick up their sleeve to take money from me and help them keep their
fares “the lowest in Europe.” They ripped me off on the dollar-sterling exchange rate!  I used an
American credit card to pay for the tickets. On the date I paid the exchange rate was $1.64 to the
pound, so the charge of £175.53 should have been billed as $287.87. I was billed $305.71 (Exchange
rate of $1.74/£), for an overcharge of $17.84. That’s about 6 percent more than I should have paid.

I disputed this too with my credit card company but eventually gave up and accepted the defeat.
Sometimes moral victories are too exhausting to pursue to the end.

And the headlines? “Ryanair shrinks losses and raises profits forecast.” “Ryanair charges fail to
put off travelers.” Not much hope for change while they thrive and prosper regardless of passenger
comfort and convenience (and real cost), but at least I can promise them one passenger less!! 

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