Now Ryanair wants to charge you a pound to spend a penny

Toilet tariff looms as budget airline threatens to axe the final 'freebie'

Go before you go: that is the message from the bog-standard budget airline, Ryanair. Michael O'Leary, the carrier's controversial chief executive, has incensed consumer groups by proposing a £1 charge for the last free on-board "frill": the lavatory.

Mr O'Leary leaked the plan to breakfast news yesterday, warning that "people might have to spend a pound to spend a penny in future", with the airline planning to fit "a coin-slot on the toilet door".

Opponents queued up to pooh-pooh the wheeze. Rochelle Turner of Which? Holiday said: "It seems Ryanair is prepared to plumb any depth to make a fast buck." Frances Tuke, of Abta, the Travel Association, said: "This is in the realms of 'You couldn't make it up.' We think it's outrageous. It's underhand to charge for something which should be part of the deal."

A spokesman for Ryanair, Stephen McNamara, had apparently not been privy to the new policy. He issued a statement saying: "Michael makes a lot of this stuff up as he goes along and while this has been discussed internally there are no immediate plans to introduce it." He added, though: "Not everyone uses the toilet on board one of our flights but those that do could help to reduce airfares for all passengers."

While Ryanair is flush with cash and, therefore, better placed than many airlines, it has been hit by the free-falling pound. As an Irish company many of its costs are in euros, while fuel and aircraft leasing costs are in US dollars. But its main base is the UK, with earnings in sterling – these days worth little more than toilet paper.

In addition, inopportune hedging has seen the airline paying well above the spot rate for aviation fuel. So the carrier is seeking every opportunity to boost "ancillary" revenues. Last week, the airline announced plans to axe check-in desks, forcing every passenger to check in online. A move to charge for using the on-board lavatories is the logical conclusion of the no-frills revolution that began in Britain in 1995. That was the year a young entrepreneur, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, launched easyJet. He redefined air travel by abolishing travel agency commission, minimum-stay restrictions and complimentary in-flight catering.

Ryanair has since taken the lead as the most hardcore of the no-frills carriers, charging £9.50 for using a check-in desk and the same for a suitcase checked into the bowels of the aircraft.

Several problems will need to be addressed before a charge is introduced. A coin-in-the-slot mechanism that accepts, say, £1 and €1 coins would be of little use to Swiss and Swedish passengers aboard a flight from Basel to Stockholm, both outside the euro area. Some female passengers will feel aggrieved at having to pay to deal with the onset of a period while on a Ryanair flight.

Parents who decide to change their baby's nappy in the cabin rather than in a washroom could anger other passengers. And charging for toilets is likely to dampen demand for inflight drinks. But Mr O'Leary rejected a suggestion that some passengers may be too poor to pee: "I don't think anybody in history has got on board a Ryanair flight with less than a pound."

Other airlines, such British Airways, dismissed Ryanair's latest plan as potty. "We've got no plans to do that," said a spokesman for BA. Andrew McConnell, of easyJet, said the idea did not hold water: "Inflation appears to have gone crazy if it now costs £1 to spend a penny."

Groups representing the elderly and the incontinent also attacked the plan.

Strangely, the loos ruse was presaged in a post on the website ihateryanair.co.uk, in which an anonymous traveller wrote: "So Mr O'Leary, in your bid to charge us for every sodding thing you can, how long will it be before you charge your passengers to go to the toilet?"

Ryanair rules: How you can fight back

Pay for your flights with a Visa Electron card – otherwise you can add £9.50 to every return flight for paying with a debit card. If your bank does not issue Electron cards, you can pay with someone else's card (with their permission).

*Check all details before you click "buy"; entering a wrong name (eg, "Bob" when the passport says "Robert", or a woman's married name when the passport bears the maiden name), can cost up to £145 to change on each flight.

*Be aware that carrying more than one piece of cabin baggage – even duty-free purchases – could result in you being sent back to check-in to pay a £30 "fine".

Don't pay the extra fee for "priority boarding". On the average Ryanair flight there are 36 empty seats.

*Know your rights when things go wrong. If a flight is cancelled and it is not the airline's fault you have few rights under EU legislation – the airline only has to give you your money back. But if a short flight is delayed, not cancelled, then, after two hours, the airline has to offer refreshments and phone calls, regardless of the cause of the delay.

*Take an empty bottle through security and fill it at the water fountain "airside" to avoid the £3 onboard water; in extremis a container could save a toilet trip.

Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace