Ruinair

Ryanair, recently voted by Which? magazine as Europe’s least favourite brand, has now promised to be “nicer” to customers. Or perhaps the word they are looking for not quite as nasty towards customers and only treat them as scum rather than like sh!te :)).

Such as not throwing disabled people off the plane and leaving them stranded for them daring to show up in a wheelchair, or not charging a grieving widower a pile of cash for wanting to change his flight plans and fly home early so he could bury his family.

I purposely avoid flying Ryanair and would only use them when I can because to be honest, its just not worth saving a few quid to be treated like self-loading cargo for several hours. And furthermore, Ruinair’s policy when a flight is cancelled, which is basically to refund you’re your ticket cost and then leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere. Ultimately means any savings made by taking a Ryanair flight regularly will likely get wiped out by having to pay for an expensive regular flight/train fare at short notice or take a long taxi ride, etc.

Also, it’s annoying for me, as I have the name “Ryan” and my family is from the same Midlands town (Mullingar) as Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, many assume I have some link to Ryanair…I don’t! So no whinging please about the time they stomped on you’re luggage and sent it to wrong airport (I mean you have my sympathies, but there’s not a lot I can do about it other than suggest flying in future with a different airline).

Ryanair claim to following the business model of US “no-frills” airlines such as Southwest. However, while the business model of other no frills airlines (such as Easyjet) is similar to Southwest, Ryanair have gone well beyond this. The US airline they resemble the most to me is a number of the smaller Airtran clones.

Now the problem there is that many of these airlines tend to have relatively short shelf life’s, largely because they tend to make lots of enemies and the instant anything goes wrong their compeditors and the regulators pretty much throw the book at them. This is exactly the problem for Ryanair, indeed O’Leary seems to positively delight in yanking the chain of BA, Aer Lingus or the various regulators.

Normally for example when an airline loses a plane (an inevitability for any airline, everyone major one save Qantas has had to deal with at least one major air accident eventually), there is some “circling of the wagons” with the regulators in the airlines country of registry, anxious not to see job loses or get egg on their face (given that it’s their job to regulate airlines registered in that country and the international community will hold them to account if the airline is found to be at fault).

However very likely the Irish regulator and media in such a scenario, far from fighting Ryanair’s corner, will be screaming for heads to roll (as after all the Irish government wants to protect Aer Lingus!). Similarly they’ve made enemies in the States (and as Ryanair fly US made planes this means the NTSB and FAA will play a role in any investigation involving a Ryanair plane), where the last thing the authorities want is Ryanair bringing there ubra-brand of market capitalism to Trans-Atlantic flights and upsetting the cosy little cartel their two US main airlines profit from.

A good example of the end result would be shown by the crash of Valuejet 592 in 1996. Personally, I would argue those most at fault for the loss of flight 592 were Sabretech, its maintenance contractors (who put faulty oxygen generators, which they had failed to handle properly in a cargo hold, where they later started a fire). Valuejet’s principle failings were more at not monitoring what this contractor were doing and then raising hell when they realised how unsafe these procedures were. But the authorities and the media, rounded on Valuejet and the airline went under.

As the saying goes, be nice to people on the way up as you’ll meet them again on the way down. And Ryanair needs to rediscover the meaning of the phrase “the customer is always right”…not “and what they feck do you want now?”

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