Friday, December 04, 2009

Ryanair - Daylight Robbery!

bad choice sign

Now I know how Ryanair, one of the leading low-cost airlines in Europe, makes such huge profits even in these tough times.

I can understand that you have to pay for extra weight, luggage that is, not your own.

In principle I accept that you can pay extra for a priority ticket, to board among the first passengers, although it doesn’t always work very well.

I understand the underlying principle to limit check-in luggage to 15 kg and allow 10 kg as carry-on luggage.

I can also see the practical reason for only allowing one carry-on item, so that handbags, camera bags and airport shopping all go into the one piece of luggage

The Ryanair strategy is obviously to minimise staff through putting the onus and responsibility on the passenger, ideally having just a single item to carry on board.

When you buy a ticket online you start off with a very low, basic price, just like when you buy for instance a Volvo; any add-ons or extras will cost you, soon making it less cheap.

With Ryanair you pay for getting on board among the first, checking in luggage, paying with a normal credit card … and there have even been rumours of plans to introduce a fee for using on-board toilets, which brought down ridicule on the arrogant boss of the company.

Before you have checked in online, you can change your ticket at a cost. Fair enough, not too bad. And when you do check in they give you very detailed instructions about travel ID, best use your passport. I have no problem with that.

Then it is time to print out your boarding pass, using your own printer, again saving the airline money. Very clever, smart move.

They tell you to make sure that the information on the ID matches the details you enter for the boarding pass. Out comes your travel document with a dotted line and a picture of some scissors to indicate where and how far to cut what will become the slip the Ryanair staff will tear off at the boarding gate. I even trimmed mine so the slip would be of perfect size and shape.

When I got to the airport in the morning to travel to Stockholm to visit my grandchildren I felt absolutely confident I had done all they asked of me, weighed my luggage, printed and trimmed my boarding pass and so on.

- You can’t travel on this boarding pass, said the check-in guy.

- Sorry?

- The information on the boarding pass doesn’t match your passport.

I had checked the passport number and dates etc. many times, as one does.

- On the boarding pass you have two initials for your first names.

- Yeah? It’s still me, nothing wrong, just shortened to the initials.

- It has to be exact.

I produced two more ID:s and put them on the counter; my UK driving licence and my British military ID, which I am obliged to carry as a civilian attached to the British Forces in Germany.

This military photo ID has my name, with initials just like my boarding pass, AND shows my passport number! He didn’t even bother to look at them.

- It has to match in every detail, he informed me.

- Is it possible to change it then?

- Yes, over there, he said pointing over my shoulder.

I realised they would charge me for that since everything extra costs you. Obviously carrying extra weight costs fuel, baggage handlers need to be paid, so I thought there would be a small fee for somebody to spend a few minutes accessing the computer booking system to change this small detail.

Keep in mind that my ticket cost € 175. Are you ready for this? To change my initials to my two full first names (8 added letters) cost € 150, one-hundred-and-fifty euros. ONE – FIVE – ZERO euros! What could ever justify a fee like that? It is not a fee, it is a fine. As if I had committed a crime, done it deliberately, in cold blood, just to annoy them.

rob warn

First time in my life I have been robbed. It would have been cheaper not to see my grandchildren. What would you have done? Where can I complain?

On the out-journey Ryanair lost the little padlock on my case. Maybe I should invoice them € 150 for this precious little padlock of extremely strong emotional value to me. Yeah, that would have been as ridiculous as their “fee” for next to nothing.

I do not think you find it hard to understand that I promised the Ryanair staff never ever to fly with them again, and to recommend people to fly any other airline but them!


oreneta said...


My experiences have never been that bad, but they haven't been great.....

I will bear this in mind next time I have to fly somewhere.

Veronica said...

Here in Oz we have a web site called notgoodenough but only really applies to Australia ... there is probably a similar one ...THAT IS DAYLIGHT BLINKY ROBBERY!

Protege said...

Oh, I am so sorry! That is just criminal. Too bad, as my boyfriend loves Ryanair. He travels with them every time he visits and Ryanair makes it possible for us to see each other without it costing a fortune. He is their preferred customer as he travels usually without a luggage.
I honestly think you were just unlucky and in a way you should complain as this just shows bad service.

swenglishexpat said...

Oreneta - Yeah, sophisticated card fraud.

Veronica - I'll look for something similar to that Aussie website. There must be some watchdog in the UK I suppose, although this happened in Germany with an Irish airline.

Protege - With Ryanair, as with many others, you get what you pay for. With Ryanair you get very little service. But what I am upset about is not the charge as such, although they followed the rules to the letter, but the totally unjustified amount. I need to find a clever way of complaining, no point talking to Ryanair itself I guess.

matthew_in_ham said...

Yes it is robbery, the fee you have been charged bears no relationship to the costs incurred by the airline or the value delivered to you. It's nasty tricks like this that let them provide cheap seats for everybody else. If this was the UK you could complain to the Office of Fair Trading or even something like BBC Watchdog.

swenglishexpat said...

Matthew - Thanks for your comment and suggestions. I could perhaps approach BBC Watchdog, as a member of a large military expat community. They might be interested in the story, who knows. Otherwise I have to find out about a German equivalent.

CanadianSwiss said...

I can fully understand your frustration. Of course, I would have also expected them to charge a fee of maybe 10 Euro or so, but 150??? That is unbelievable!! There MUST be a German equivalent to the watchdog.

swenglishexpat said...

CanadianSwiss - I have to find out when I am back in the new year. Too much going on just now. Take care!

Lynda said...

That is shocking! How horrid. I know they are all trying to save a penny, but that is nuts.
Not sure I would have been able to hold my temper.

swenglishexpat said...

Lynda - I did everything BUT hit him!

Rositta said...

I'd send them an email with a link to your blog. That's what I did when I had a battle with the National Bank of Greece and it worked. I wish you luck, that's highway robbery. I used to think Olympic was bad but this is worse...ciao and Merry Christmas

swenglishexpat said...

Rositta - Thanks, that's a very good suggestion. Just need to find a suitable email address to send it to.