Consuming Issues: Ryanair: it's cheap, not cheerful
Saturday 05 September 2009
Hidden credit card charges, extra payments for "fees/taxes", frequent delays, poor customer service, airports that turn out to be miles from the destination – not many people have a good word to say about Ryanair. Which is odd, given that it is now Europe's biggest, and therefore most popular, airline.
Perhaps the reason for the reticence is that air passengers have become blasé at the prospect of flying at 30,000ft for less than the cost of a DVD box set. Perhaps it's because they don't like admitting the reason they are flying Ryanair is money (a topic the airline has no embarrassment shouting about).
Some 58.5 million people flew with Ryanair in the 12 months to March, paying a total of £2.9bn for tickets, charges, on-board lotto cards and over-priced snacks and drinks – €50 per flight. But regardless of its other drawbacks, Ryanair's cheapness is not something to be sniffed at by anyone who remembers the expense and indifferent service of the old state monopolies. Flights that cost dozens of pounds on Ryanair cost hundreds of pounds on those lazy national carriers in the 1990s before the skies were liberalised.
Admittedly, there are plenty of reasons to dislike Ryanair. The service is undeniably basic; there are lots of irritating booking extras; the £100 charge for amending a passenger name is particularly egregious.
Then there's the charmlessness of Michael O'Leary, the chief executive, and his arrogant disdain of decent organisations such as the Advertising Standards Authority and bullying of municipal airports seeking to upgrade facilities. Needless to say, Ryanair air stewards aren't paid much.
And then there's the overwhelming environmental case against mass air travel. Planes emit vast amounts of greenhouse gases, so much so that the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research forecasts that air travel will take up the UK's entire "sustainable" carbon quota by 2050 unless something changes.
But let's assume you fly infrequently, generally holidaying at home more rather than weekending in Barcelona or jetting to Venice for a drink at Harry's Bar – and that you need to fly somewhere, for business, a wedding or keyhole surgery. Despite all the carping, there are two good reasons why you should choose Ryanair.
The first is that its early reputation for delays is no longer deserved – its flights are usually punctual. According to flightontime.info, in the first three months of this year, Ryanair was 18th out of 35 airlines flying from British airport for delays: 80 per cent of flights landed within 15 minutes of schedule.
The second – and far the most important – is price. Despite the addition of the £5 credit card charge and the extra charge for "fees/taxes", Ryanair's fares are astonishingly good value. You can't accuse it of complacency. Last week it was advertising flights, tomorrow, from Stansted to Turin for £42 and from Manchester to Marseille for £64.
And this is where it's been clever; stripping down the unnecessary costs of flying to a cheap core. It recently introduced online check-in, requiring customers to confirm attendance on the flight and print out tickets at home (beware, you'll be hit for £10 each way if you bowl up to the airport expecting to check-in).
If you want anything above this minimum, you'll have to pay – often handsomely. The charge for stowing luggage in the hold is £10 a bag. A can of Kopparberg pear cider onboard is £5.40. A 500ml bottle of water £2.70.
The reason why Ryanair decants passengers miles from city centres is because regional hub airports are cheap; that's why the fares are so low. That's why Ryanair doesn't want to pay baggage handlers, why its staff are low-paid and why it has introduced online check-in.
For its last full financial year, largely because of fuel costs, the penny-pinching "Low Fares Airline" made €105m after tax – a profit margin of 3 per cent.
If you have to fly, you can hardly get better value than that. And that means you have more money to spend at your destination.
Heroes & Villains
Which?, the consumer campaign group, scored the computer giant's products highly for reliability. According to the number of repairs needed by customers, Apple came top of the league for desktops, and equal second for laptops, behind Toshiba.
Which? readers also gave Apple the highest overall customer score, 94 per cent for desktops and 93 per cent for laptops, well above ratings for competitors.
Only one other company scored above the 70s, Sony, which scored 80. But such quality comes at a cost. "Apple tops the reliability chart, but you'll pay £900 for a full-featured Mac and £2,500 for a top-of-the-range one," says Which? Computer.
Villain: Shoe Zone, Isle of Wight
Hundreds of pairs of shoes but no shoelaces. Most of the big shoe chains don't stock shoelaces, presumably because they would rather sell new shoes than make good old ones.
In this new age of thrift, are these shops missing a trick? How many customers seeking new laces would spot a gleaming new pair of shoes and buy them? The rest of us would be spared the increasingly difficult task of hunting laces, an endangered species on the high street.
- 1 Kim Jong-un shows off airport designed by architect he likely had executed
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
- 5 Facebook rainbow profile pictures likely being tracked by social network
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
Tunisia beach attack: How can British Muslims respond to the latest outrages?
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...
£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This extremely successful and well-established...
Competitive with monthly bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced FX...
Day In a Page
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B or countryside retreat, subject to change of use permissions.
This Grade II-listed three-bedroom home is situated on a private road, just a short walk from the sandy beaches of Frinton-on-Sea.
Less than five miles from Malmesbury, this four-bedroom cottage comes with equestrian facilities and gardens that extend to approximately three acres.
Spanning three storeys, this late-Victorian five-bedroom farmhouse is a spacious family home with a modern interior and B&B potential.
With an original church arch, this triplex one-bedroom church conversion has a light, spacious, feel and comes with a secure off-street parking space.
This recently-refurbished three-bedroom home has bi-folding doors that lead out to a decked seating area - ideal for alfresco dining this summer.
Well-located for coastal walks and popular restaurants, this detached four-bedroom home offers views over farmland, to the Solent, the Purbecks and Bournemouth.
If you love high ceilings, school conversions like this one are bang on the money. This two-bedroom flat is minutes from Burgess Park and the foodie haven at Borough Market.
Set within a church conversion in Bermondsey, this two-bedroom maisonette combines existing features, such as original arches and brickwork, with a contemporary finish.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This four-bedroom Edwardian home offers a combination of original features and contemporary design after a renovation by the current owners.
This four-bedroom home offers a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining with doors that open to the patio and garden.
On the market for the first time in more than 50 years, this six-bedroom home is a project with vast potential - spread over three floors of living space.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Surrounded by rolling countryside, this four-bedroom barn conversion comes with a self-contained, one-bedroom annexe that could serve as an office or a holiday let.
Located near Harrogate town centre, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is arranged over three storeys while a current study serves as an optional sixth bedroom.
A ground-floor flat in a country house, located a mile from Sway; this two-bedroom home would make an ideal weekend retreat on the edge of the New Forest.
On a popular residential lane in Caterham on the Hill, this four-bedroom family home offers a secluded garden and a convenient location for local schools and public transport.
Just a short walk from Westerham green, this three-bedroom cottage has a light kitchen with exposed brickwork and double doors that lead to a south-facing garden.
In a prime spot opposite the River Thames, this one-bedroom flat has an 18sq ft reception room with glass doors that open out to a private terrace.
Set in the hills above Llanwrda Village, west Wales, this 18th-century three-bedroom farmhouse has holiday-let potential from a separate barn conversion and annexe.
This charming end-of-terrace townhouse is arranged over three floors, with two double bedrooms and a private courtyard garden located at the rear of the property.
Located in the University area, this semi-detached five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors - there's even a rear garden and off-road parking too.
Only a few minutes' drive from the charming town of Marlow, this two-bedroom home sits on the private riverside estate of Harleyford.
This detached four-bedroom home in Middleyard is arranged over two floors, with features that include a wood-burning stove and bespoke oak staircase.
In a row of eight detached Georgian residences, this five-bedroom home offers views of The Sound, Mount Edgcumbe and Cornwall from its impressive veranda and full-length balcony.
If you love cooking for friends this two-bedroom flat - complete with views of the iconic Battersea Power Station and an open-plan kitchen/dining area - will go down a treat.
Located above Grasmere village, this five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors and offers countryside views across Grasmere Lake towards Silver Howe.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with a double carport, useful workshop, garden and two walkways that offer views of the adjacent countryside.
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.