Flying by the seat of his pants

FOR the first time since its rapid growth in the early 1990s, Ryanair’s passenger numbers have FALLEN – by 8 per cent – after grounding up to 80 aircraft due to high fuel costs and the struggling economy.

Knowing Ryanair, though, I’m sure it’ll soon recover. In fact, I’ve heard it already has a plan to restore its fortunes. After all, you’ve only got to look for clues at CEO, Michael O’Leary’s own pronouncements:

1. ON UPRIGHT SEATING: “I’d love to operate aircraft where we take out the back 10 rows and put in hand rails. We’d say if you want to stand, it’s €5. People say: ‘Oh, but the people standing may get killed if there’s a crash’.

Well, with respect, the people sitting down might get killed as well.” But why have any seats in the first place, Mr O’Leary? Provided efficient packing techniques were used, you could probably get 600 passengers into a small jet airliner – standing up, upside down or stowed in the overhead bins – with no need for safety belts because the bodies would be so firmly pressed together movement would be impossible.

Or, how about tranquillising passengers and loading them on with fork lift trucks – “sardine class”? Or, simply strap us all to the wings – “wing class”. Next year’s Ryanair initiatives, perhaps?

2. ON LOW FARES: “I don’t see why in 10 years’ time you wouldn’t fly people for free. Why don’t airports pay us for delivering the passengers to their shops?”

Now, Ryanair might already have advertised “free” flights but once you’ve added on the “optional” extras – administration fees, baggage check-in, online check-in – you really shouldn’t have to get to the payment page before discovering your “free” flight now costs €300, should you?

3. ON THE IN-FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: “Anyone who thinks Ryanair flights are some sort of bastion of sanctity where you can contemplate your navel is wrong.

We already bombard you with as many in-flight announcements and trolleys as we can. Anyone who looks like sleeping, we wake them up to sell them things.”

So, perhaps best to bring forward that late-night pub crawl just before your flight home for Christmas, eh?

4. ON TURBULENCE: “If drink sales are falling off we get the pilots to engineer a bit of turbulence.

That usually spikes up the drink sales.” Oops! Expect a bit more turbulence on that flight too! Bon voyage and happy landing!

Nora Johnson’s novels, Soul Stealer & The De Clerambault Code ( now also available at in paperback and as eBook. Profits to Cudeca

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