Review of "Ryanair - RYR"
It's difficult to do a review when actual people are involved, especially when your views are very negative. Usually, here on Ciao!, we're reviewing - or chatting about - inanimate objects that might not take it personally if we slag them off, but when it comes to reviewing an airline and talking about the attitude of their crew, you can hurt people's feelings; but here goes nothing.When it comes to flying, I've had the good fortune to travel round the planet on both major airlines and budget carriers.
On both business and leisure journeys, I've enjoyed the imperious first class cabins of transcontinental globe trotters such as Cathay Pacific, the exceptional service of Virgin Atlantic's business and economy class stewards and stewardesses and the gaudy orange of Stelios's budget dominator, EasyJet.On more than one occasion, though, I've had the misfortune of using RyanAir. You'd think that after one bad flight, or two, as a customer I'd be reluctant to use them again, and you'd be right to think that. The trouble is, RyanAir fly from my local airport - Stansted - offer exceptionally low prices - £1.54 per person plus taxes on our last trip to Spain - and have good links to most European destinations that I've needed to travel to for fun and income. Often, the decision to use this airline has not been mine, but a financial decision by former employers.
But if the above was all I needed then this review would be over already, with a big fat five stars for a job well done; but there's less to RyanAir than meets the eye.Marketing themselves as the "On-Time Airline", RyanAir do indeed have an excellent reputation for punctuality, and the good news carries on with the aircraft themselves. They're modern, often fitted with plush looking leather seats and the crew are always well dressed, giving the look and feel of much larger, more expensive airline.
The no-frills side of RyanAir comes in once you sit down. The cabins themselves are always sparse with no entertainment facilities at all; this is not unusual, however, on a short-haul flight, regardless of who you fly with. You are allowed to use MP3 players and other electrical devices once the aircraft is in flight, compllying with the aviation authorities, but nothing beats a good book to while away the airbourne hours.It's when you start to look around and figure out just how RyanAir make their punctuality targets that you notice the litter, the uncleaned floors, the discarded plastic cups that have fallen under the chairs. The crews are on such a tight turn-around schedule, often barely half an hour, that they only have a few minutes between one compliment of passengers disembarking before the next lot are boarding. It is not enough time for the staff to take a break, clean the loos, tidy up the aisles and keep a smile fixed firmly on their faces - it results in crews with short tempers and painful mouth muscles.
Then the plush looking leather seats start to reveal themselves as harder and less comfortable than the stripped out Recarros in a Porsche 911 GT3, with a very upright position and no recline facility. There's no magazine pouch in the seat in front of you on the more modern of RyanAir's fleet, though I will concede that on some of their older aircraft that have not yet been through a refit, the pouches and reclining chairs are still there.This is forgivable, of course, considering you've only paid a quid for your trip, but it's the staff that really let the airline down. Being under the stress and time constraints that they are, it's not surprising that both ground crew and plane crew can be a little less than polite. They carry around the impression of resenting the passengers for wanting such a budget aircraft and more often than not it shows through.
In flight, staff paint a smile on their faces are you board, but it seems to have waned by the time the front wheels part company with terrafirma and they spend the rest of the journey painstakingly trying to sell you food and drink at exhorbitant prices, duty-free that often seems cheaper on the high street and phone or lottery cards at premium prices. This is understandable from a business perspective - an airline has to make its money somewhere and it can't be coming from selling seats at 50p.Once the plane lands, service deteriorates further. Airlines have to pay ground rent for the time their aircraft are stationed at terminals and so quick turnarounds are paramount to keeping these costs down. The staff are therefore not keen to answer questions, offer guidance or assist with getting disabled or hindered passengers safely to the terminal. On our last flight, they even forgot to remove our child's buggy from the hold, so eager were they to get the passengers off and the next load on board. One member of staff even stated that it "is not my job" and therefore wasn't prepared to help find out what had happened to the buggy. Ground crew are eager to pass responsibility to air crew, and vice versa.
Being a budget airline, you get no pre-booked seating, which both RyanAir and EasyJet insist saves time and money, a concept I find difficult to understand. All you end up with is a scrum to board the plane as it becomes every passenger for themselves in an attempt to find a seat, often meaning the customers are in a bad mood before their holiday has even started and, on a busy flight, it often means that family are separated from each other.As with all airlines, disabled passengers and families with young children are allowed to board the aircraft first, but I have yet to board a RyanAir flight with my kids where passengers not entitled to this benefit have been allowed on the plane because the staff member couldn't be bothered to argue or enforce the rule. It defeats the object of allowing the less-abled people easy access to the aircraft and even EasyJet are strict on this policy, often putting queue-jumpers to the back of the queue.
It all goes to give a feeling that the airline and its staff can't really give a monkey's about their paying passengers and, despite the cheap prices already mentioned, some passengers do pay a lot for their tickets. To get the best prices you need to book early; as the date of the flight draws nearer, or as the flight becomes more full, the price goes up. £1.54 flights quickly become £154 flights and I even heard one passenger ended up paying over £300 to catch the same flight as the rest of his family, who had paid substantially less. He would have saved money paying for a charter flight with a bigger airline. Despite this, he was subjected to the same budget attitude.Changing flights can be equally expensive. A colleague once needed to fly back from Italy a day earlier than planned. Her ticket had originally cost £30; the adjustment to the ticket would have cost my company £150, on a flight they admitted had plenty of seats available. I left the ticket and bought her a one-way ticket from the same airport on EasyJet, paying just £44 instead. When I mentioned this to the telephone operator at RyanAir, she simply said "use them then".
If this wasn't bad enough, this year RyanAir have introduced a new policy on baggage - it no longer constitutes part of your ticket price. If you wish to carry your luggage in the hold, as you would with a suitcase, it now costs you at least £2.50 per item up to 20kg. Unlike other airlines, baggage allowance is not shared. For example, if it is 20kg per person as an allowance, other airlines would allow a couple to have one suitcase between them that weighed, say, 30kg. Not RyanAir. This causes great problems when travelling with young children, especially for long holidays when baggage loads would normally be heavier for a family.This latest policy shows that they are focusing on the single or couple travellers who are backpacking and therefore travelling 'light', so their luggage will go in the overhead locker, or the businessman on a daytrip who has little else than his laptop bag.
To accommodate these passengers, RyanAir's handluggage is a class-leading 10kgs allowance while the norm is 5kg, continuing to show a shift away from families.After this latest trip it's fair to say I've had my fill of RyanAir. For the stress and harrassment of coping with their policies and staff rudeness these days i'd rather pay the extra for an airline that will dedicate me a seat, share my luggage load with my family and offer me guidance or assistance when I need it.
There's no denying that you get what you pay for, but if you want a cheap, low-cost budget airline I'd heartily suggest EasyJet any day.It's worth remembering, however, that in today's competitive charter airline world and with the internet at your disposal as a shopping assistant, many of the big names now offer flights competitive with the budget airlines, and for that you'll get a pre-booked seat that reclines, better luggage allowance and, in some cases, in-flight entertainment.
If I have to use RyanAir again, it'll be with begrudgement and a lot of sleeping pills.
Product Information : Ryanair - RYR
Manufacturer's product description
Country: Ireland; United Kingdom
Listed on Ciao since: 23/06/2000