Dear Ryanair: A real apology would be a start


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The Independent Online

Dear Mr O'Leary

I know you don't like sob stories, so I will get straight to the point. I've read about your recent attempts to overhaul Ryanair's image – and boost finances – and I am surprised. It took you a bit longer to catch on than I would have guessed, but hey, it's great that you've finally realised that it's not a good idea to be "unnecessarily p**sing people off."

You see, I'm writing as one of the 0.1 per cent of customers who you recently claimed had failed to print their boarding passes. Not a small number to fall foul of your terms and conditions, If you do fly 81 million passengers a year, this makes me one of about 81,000 people each year who are charged an extra €70 to use your printer. As a group, we are more than twice as large as the population of Monaco. We must have given you more than €5.6m on top of our air fares in the past year alone. We don't mind, though: you gave us printed pieces of paper in return.

In my case, I shelled out €140 extra to board a flight I had already paid for (€70 for me and €70 for my partner, a trainee tutor for children with autism, who had saved £253 to fly during half term to Seville and back from Jerez). It was not that we'd forgotten our passes; we had simply failed to find a printer in the mountains of Andalucia.

A couple of days after you started feeding the British press tales of "service improvements", I was being forced to type my pin number into your credit card machine by a threatening member of staff who told me I had one choice: "pay or don't fly". But coughing up wasn't enough. When I tried to pass security, the same man caught up with me, accusing me and my partner of having called his colleague "stupid". (My partner speaks no Spanish and I would never say this to anyone.) Just as quickly as he arrived, the man U-turned and let us pass. By now, for the record, I was crying.

On board, an old woman travelling by herself asked if she could take a seat in the fifth row; her feet were sore. Of course, she couldn't; it was "reserved". After walking anxiously up and down the aisle twice, she was finally told to return to the same seat. I'm not sure why I'm telling you this, I know you understand how Ryanair works. After all, it has you written all over it. When a member of your staff walked up and down selling a calendar plastered with pictures of your half-naked female hostesses, parents joked about covering their children's eyes. I was offended, but what else could I expect from a man who believes "women have the babies" while fathers "provide"?

I know you'll think I'm just another angry customer, but aren't I the sort of person you want on your side? I can't afford British Airways and comfort isn't a concern. You seem to be betting on the odds that people like me will grumble and then return, tails between our legs, for another €80 charmless flight. But, be warned, we won't be treated like dirt indefinitely.

Show us you mean change by apologising to your aggrieved customers and retraining your staff. You might be the cheapest airline around, but the cost of flying with you is still too high.


Sarah Morrison