Ryanair pushing ahead with $6 standing room only seats and paid bathrooms

Last year, Ryanair first mentioned their concept for several rows of standing only seats. The idea back then was to install special standing seats and offer them for a reduced fee.

The new seating innovation has not been implemented yet, but Michael O’Leary wants everyone to know that he is still very serious about it, and hopes to pay for the new seats with proceeds from the paid bathrooms he also hopes to install soon.

If there is one thing I’ve learned about Ryanair, it is that even though most of their ideas sound like crackpot ways to generate some free PR, they take their silly ideas quite seriously.

Ryanair knows that there is virtually no limit to the inconveniences passengers will put up with in exchange for crazy low airfares. When your flight is just a few hours out of a one week vacation, the savings on airfare leave you with more money for food, booze and tacky souvenirs.

With the new seats, between 40 and 50 extra passengers can be loaded on the planes, pushing things to the absolute maximum the plane is approved to carry. Still, the big question is whether you’d be willing to pay an insanely low fare in exchange for a standing seat on a flight of several hours.


[Image from AFP/Getty Images]

Ryanair paid bathrooms are really going to happen – perhaps

The story behind the Ryanair paid bathroom concept is a really weird one. The idea was first mentioned by their slightly insane CEO, Michael O’Leary. Then the story was debunked by their own spokesperson.

And now, in a not so surprising twist, the airline has confirmed that paid bathrooms will indeed be coming to their planes -albeit in a phased introduction.

The “pay to pee” facilities will cost one pound or one euro – so international passengers on Ryanair better make sure they carry correct change.

According to Ryanair, they are working with Boeing to redesign the cabin, and develop the coin operated doors. The whole idea behind paid bathrooms is designed to force passengers to use the bathroom before or after the flight – and the final objective is to remove one or two bathrooms from all Ryanair planes, creating more space for seats. And more seats means (even) lower prices. You can’t really argue with their logic.

There is a spot of good news though – the paid bathrooms won’t be introduced until after the busy summer season.

Ryanair still serious about transatlantic plans — but stays realistic

In a recent interview with a Dutch newspaper, Ryanair founder Michael O’Leary sat down to discuss the future of his airline. The fastest growing airline in the world still operates out of a tiny office complex in Dublin, with no intention of moving to the kind of slick all-glass towers his competitors fill.

When asked about the crisis in the aviation world, he laughs – “what crisis”. In 2009, the Irish low cost carrier transported 66 million passengers, up from 58 million in 2008. But better yet – they managed to double their profits. In just under 6000 square feet, the airline takes care of their sales, marketing, HR and web site management. Nobody uses email to discuss anything – they believe that getting up out of your chair and walking to the person in question is far more efficient.

In 2009, the average price of a Ryanair ticket was just 28 euros (about $40). Even with those low prices, the airline can make a profit. The key to their success, according to O’Leary, is to use smaller regional airports and to stick to a very simple principle – your ticket get you a seat and nothing else.

Ryanair has often been the source of jokes, mostly started by the airline itself. When they say they’ll add a coin slot to airplane bathrooms, people laugh, but O’Leary is dead serious. In 2010, they plan to remove some of the bathrooms on their planes, giving them room to add more seats. With just one bathroom and a coin slot, ticket prices can once again go down a little.

O’Leary also revealed that he’ll hand over control of his airline to someone else in two or three years. Despite his success, he dislikes the aviation world claiming “profit margins are slimmer than at the local grocery store”.

When asked about his transatlantic plans, he still insists that the airline is serious – it won’t be part of the current Ryanair, but flying a plane full of people from Europe to the US should be possible for around $15 per ticket. Like in Europe, a transatlantic Ryanair would most likely make use of smaller regional airports. If he ever pulls this off, he admits that he’d need to do it in one big blow – lots of planes, lots of destinations. Given how successful O’Leary has proven to be, I don’t think anyone in the aviation world should ever doubt he can succeed.

Ryanair passengers denied water in a five hour delay

Ryanair passengers stuck for five hours on the tarmac at London Stansted last Monday were given ice cubes to fight the stuffy, hot conditions. Just the cubes. Suck on that.

Six inches of snow fell tauntingly outside as passengers cooked, free of air conditioning, and flight attendants claimed that it was against regulations for them to hand out water.

“A Ryanair spokesman claimed that cabin staff could not open the bar while the aircraft was on the ground due to ‘Inland Revenue laws’. The Air Transport Users’ Council, the aviation watchdog, disputes this, adding that there is no law to prevent staff from handing out a few free cups of water,” reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Irish airline is famous for cutting every corner to ensure low prices, including Michael O’Leary‘s pay-to-pee plan, charging for infants who sit on your lap, and hidden fees which make your total price a lot higher than you had anticipated when you clicked on that low fare.

Refusing to serve water to anyone for five hours on a hot, grounded airplane, when the water was certainly available, in this blogger’s opinion, ought to be treated as a crime. Imagine sitting for five hours in a stifling plane, asking for water, and the flight attendant telling you “no.” Imagine them saying “no” to your grandmother and your kids. I can’t believe there wasn’t a mutiny.%Gallery-51515%


Ryanair threaten to drop Italy

Ryanair is saying it might ditch Italy … and it’s not just a publicity stunt. The low-cost airline says that new rules on which forms of identification are acceptable for boarding compromise security. The new reg, from Italy’s civil aviation authority, ENAC, makes licenses for driving, fishing and hunting fine for use at the gate, along with government badges and other documents.

This isn’t good enough for Ryanair. Michael O’Leary, the company’s CEO, said in a statement, “We are really sorry for the inconveniences that this decision will cause.” He continued, “It’s completely inappropriate for ENAC to introduce measures that reduce security on Italian domestic flights, compared with the security measures successfully used on all Ryanair flights in the EU and all Ryanair domestic flights in every other EU country.”

In protest – and, ostensibly, for security concerns – Ryanair is keeping its domestic flights among 10 Italian airports grounded from January 23, 2010 until the issue is fixed to O’Leary’s satisfaction.
Meanwhile, ENAC claims that the change is based on a 2000 law and that the other airlines are playing ball. In a statement, the agency said, “No carrier can operate on the national domestic market without respecting the rules.” It added, “Ryanair is the only EU and international operator that demands to fly in Italy without respecting Italian law.”

I feel strange writing this, but I agree with Michael O’Leary. Fully. A hunting license doesn’t strike me as sufficient identification to board a plane. I’m not an alarmist, but a bit of diligence is a good idea.