You'd think there's not much that Ryanair could do which would lower their public image. But they always manage to surprise and amaze with their customer 'service'.
I should say, in the interests of fairness, that there are good things about Ryanair.
1) It is a very safe airline. Which is what ultimately matters most. The rest is details.
2) They are cheap - as long as you dodge the various bullets such as priority boarding, travel insurance, suitcases, check in luggage, checking in, getting confirmation of your purchase, paying for your ticket...
3) They fly to Bydgoszcz.
So back to the matter at hand....This morning when going through a booking on Ryanair.com, I was trapped by the travel insurance section. It's included by default and there's no obvious place to say 'no thank you'.
There is however a drop down menu asking you to select your country of residence.
"Must be in there..." I thought to myself, "..but how have they phrased it?"
The hunt through the alphabetical list starts....and there it is...."Don't Cover Me" nestled between Latvia and Lithuania.
Come off it. How stupid do Ryanair think that we are? It's just insulting. With what justification can you defend putting an opt out under this drop down list? And what earthly reason do you have for placing it randomly in an alphabetical list?!
Easyjet offer insurance and do so clearly. They don't include it by default and they certainly don't include it and then hide the opt out button.
Ryanair's apparent disregard all of the 'details' (service, cabin environment, usability, etc) stands in increasingly stark contrast to their more sophisticated rivals, Easyjet.
My last few experiences on Easyjet have been great. Very pleasant and helpful staff, new planes, sensible prices for food & drinks. An engaging, relaxing and pleasant flying experience all round. Better than many scheduled carriers in fact.
My last experiences on Ryanair have been strikingly unpleasant. For instance, fasten seatbelt signs left permanently on to allow cabin crew to sell more scratch cards, ridiculous on board pricing and the most deliberately disturbing livery in the industry. And the staff...best not even go there.
It's increasingly common that our customers refuse to consider Ryanair as an option for their holiday travel to Spain. I don't think any client has ever refused to consider Easyjet. There must be a message in there...not for now but for the future.
Revenues for the two airlines are similar. Load factors are similar. Profits at Ryanair are about 25% higher. So it's a successful business model. However, it's a model based on squeezing every last drop of patience out of the passenger.
It's hard to conceive that we won't see Easyjet winning the loyalty battle as Ryanair continues to infuriate its passengers. In the long term then, surely Easyjet will fly past Ryanair as the low cost airline of choice and we'll see the 'squeeze them until their pips squeak' attitude of Ryanair consigned to the dustbin of aviation history.
I'd miss Michael O'Leary, he makes me chuckle, but I wouldn't miss anything about Ryanair. Except perhaps weekends away in Bydgoszcz.
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