Ryanair, rip-offs and reason: Micky is taking the Mickey

28 Aug

MY opinion of Ryanair has always been consistent. I wouldn’t touch them with an air bridge.

Michael O’Leary’s methods of making money do work – but at the expense of rubbing an awful lot of people up the wrong way. Including me.

What some people don’t realise is that Ripoff-air’s seemingly low prices are heavily subsidised by those poor people who HAVE to make emergency late bookings for unforeseen emergencies like family bereavements.

And by the millions of families who cannot take vacations off-peak and are forced to pay silly prices to travel during school holiday periods.

Counting the Costa: Talia, boarding card and mum Lisa

My daughter Lisa has just been lumbered with just such a situation – and ended up paying a fortune for a ONE-WAY Ryanair ticket from Alicante to Liverpool for her 15-year-old daughter Talia. Plus heaven knows how much more in £1-per-minute Premium Rate phone calls to verify details with arguably the most elusive customer call centre on the planet.

Talia was away with her school in Holland when Lisa and the rest of the family flew out to my place in Spain last week. So she travelled with me on my return from the UK on Monday – on a single Monarch ticket which cost a total of £54.48, including all taxes plus a suitcase. That reservation was made on July 29 – just three weeks before the date of travel.

A very fair price in the peak season, by anyone’s standards.

However, since Talia is 15, she is not allowed to travel alone, so the only way of getting her back to the UK in time for the new school term was to add her to her mother’s party. And they are booked on Ryanair’s Alicante to Liverpool run next Monday.

I had tried to make Talia’s reservation while I was in England, but Ryanair’s online booking service, unaware that she would be on the same flight as her mother, predictably rejected the booking with a message that under-16s cannot travel alone.

The only option remaining was for Lisa to add Talia to her travelling party herself, which she eventually managed to do – but by now it was only10 days before the date of travel.

Enter Michael Skybandit O’Leary and his rip-off boys, rubbing their hands with glee.

What would be a fair price to pay for a one-way ticket from Alicante to Liverpool in late August? The £54.48 charged by Monarch? No, that would be incredibly cheap. Say100 euros, then – 120 top whack?

No chance. For the pleasure of travelling one way from Alicante to Liverpool, with absolutely no frills, Lisa was fleeced for 228.99 euros – or £212.84 sterling at Ryanair’s. A predictably miserable exchange rate.

And still the expense was not over, because Talia had to be booked as an Adult to circumvent the system – and Lisa then had to call the Rip-offair office to switch the documentation to Child.

That in itself took three days, which won’t surprise most of you.

Ripoff-air even managed to include a €6 administration fee – presumably for the extra work involved in counting the money. Plus another €6 for web check-in. Does that mean Talia can check in for free at the airport…before Ripoff-airs jobsworths tell her she can’t take her hand luggage on board because the bag is 4mm too wide?

Ryanair’s sharp practices are not even clever. ‘‘Passengers who do not present a boarding pass at the airport will be charged a reissue fee of £40’’, they warn. Forty pounds! How much does it cost Ryanair to print a piece of paper, for heaven’s sake.

Oh, and each boarding pass ‘‘’must be printed and presented on an individual A4 page’’. Get it wrong and it’s gonna cost you again but then, when do O’Leary’s boys NOT take the Micky?

A Cork-based friend of mine travels to Alicante with Ryanair because has no other option. And he reckons their attitude is not one of gratitude for his business but that THEY are doing HIM a favour in providing a service.

Another friend’s experience last year suggests that Ryanair should consider adopting the expression ‘The Customer is Always Wrong’ as their official slogan.

My pal Andres Ballesteros, whose English is adequate but not perfect, paid on line for a return ticket from Liverpool to Alicante for his UK-based son – only to realise almost immediately that he had booked the flights back to front.

It was clearly a genuine mistake but Andres, who lives in El Altet, accepted he’d have to fork out another 20 euros or so to have the dates reversed. But when he phoned Ryanair’s call centre, a dismissive female operator told him haughtily: ‘‘It’s your mistake. You’ll just have to pay again’’.

Consequently, poor Andres had to rebook both flights, more than doubling the cost and adding a tasty bonus to O’Leary’s greed machine. World’s Most Popular Airline? World’s Least Caring Airline more likely.

Lisa reckons Ryanair have made a total of around £250 out of Talia’s single fare. No frills? At that price, my granddaughter should be getting all the frills of every inflated fare O’Leary has pocketed all summer.

PS: I just took a look at Monarch’s website in order to make a direct comparison with Ryanair – and guess what? A one-way ticket from Alicante to Manchester on Monday (August 29) would cost me €420.50! I stand corrected – it seems that when it comes to holiday time, the fly-boys are all as bad as each other.

Published in The Courier (www.thecourier.es) August 26, 2011

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