Ryanair boss tells passengers to 'stop whinging' about its seating policy

Michael O'Leary told listeners, 'If you have chosen a random seat, you're getting a random seat'

Julia Buckley
Monday 24 July 2017 10:42
Ryanair's Michael O'Leary tells customers who don't pay for reserved seat to stop whingeing

Michael O’Leary has told people to “stop whinging” about Ryanair’s seating policy – or pay for a seat.

Speaking on Irish radio, he told angry listeners: “Frankly if you’re not happy to pay the €2 to sit beside somebody else, stop complaining.

“If you have chosen a random seat, you’re getting a random seat, so stop whinging.”

The Ryanair CEO was speaking on RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke programme. He made similar comments on Joe Duffy’s Liveline programme.

O’Leary was booked to talk about a proposed second runway for Dublin Airport, but talk swiftly moved to the infamous seating policy.

Ryanair has repeatedly insisted that its policy has not changed, and that passengers who do not pay for specific seats are allocated random seats. But scores of passengers – including The Independent’s travel correspondent, Simon Calder – have seen their groups scattered about the plane, although the seatmap shows plenty of seats available.

O’Leary told a listener on O’Rourke’s programme:

“We have a free seating policy. If you don’t want to pay a fare of €2 and you choose a random seat, you get it free of charge.

”If you want to sit beside somebody, you buy a reserved seat. You can do that from €2 and frankly if you’re not happy to pay the €2 to sit beside somebody else, stop complaining.

“Pay the €2 like more than 50 per cent or 65 million of our customers do and sit wherever you like.”

He also dismissed as “rubbish” another listener’s experience of sitting next to a 13-year-old girl who cried throughout the flight after being separated from her family. “That didn’t happen,” he said.

Speaking on Duffy's programme, he admitted that groups without reserved seats will never be seated together. "The system won't do that," he said. "But the system also isn't told, 'Do your best to split them up as far as you possibly can.'"

He added: “People are not being deliberately dispersed but they are highly likely to be dispersed if they choose a random seat.”

A Ryanair spokesperson told The Independent that their position had not changed.

“We haven’t changed the random seat allocation policy,” they said. “The reason for more middle seats being allocated is that more and more passengers are taking our reserved seats (from just €2) and these passengers overwhelmingly prefer aisle and window seats, which is why people who choose random (free of charge) seats are more likely to be allocated middle seats.

“Some random seat passengers are confused by the appearance of empty seats beside them when they check-in up to four days prior to departure. The reason they can’t have these window or aisle seats is that these are more likely to be selected by reserved seat passengers many of whom only check-in 24 hours prior to departure. Since our current load factor is 96%, we have to keep these window and aisle seats free to facilitate those customers who are willing to pay (from €2) for them.

“This is entirely a matter of customer choice. We are not trying to force people to pay for reserved seats. We are very happy to facilitate any customer who wants a free of charge random seat but we are also going to do our best to facilitate customers who are willing to pay for a reserved seat (usually window or aisle) which start from €2.”

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