Booking with Ryanair is like playing Russian Roulette…

Today we tried to check in for our Ryanair flights to Dublin on Wednesday. This used to be how you got you around their check in charges at the airport, but those girls who used to unashamedly impose that unforeseen charge of £/€20 are now redundant. It’s been compulsory since 21st May. All was fine until the site asked us for the details of our kids’ passports. Neither of them have had cause before, so neither of them have them. So now we have to get them passports in two working days or say goodbye to what had been well priced air tickets and buy new ones at a higher price (though Ryanair prices are no longer competitive), or lose the holiday. We’re not the only ones who’ve been stung… They can actually offer good value, but you need a lawyerly friend to check the TOCs with a fine tooth comb every time you book. I almost always end up forking out more than I thought I had bargained with them. If you want to book them but want to minimise the risk, you can keep up with with their latest passenger crunching techniques at the I Hate Ryanair blog. Or try OMG’s suggestion below for avoiding their card sting…

  • Oh my God!

    If the “I hate Ryanair” website despises Ryanair as much as it claims to, then why is it proactively making it easier for potential passengers to use the airline’s website – thereby further lining O’Leary’s pockets – by alerting us on how overcome the many dangerous hurdles involved in booking with the company? Black propaganda, I suspect.

    The Visa Electron idea on the front page is a load of crap – this is a much more straightforward (and relatively safe) way of winning your own personal victory over the 5ft 6in human-turd hybrid that is Michael O’Leary:

    http://bargainsireland.wordpress.com/2008/11/21/avoid-the-credit-card-charge-when-booking-with-ryanair/

  • Frank Sinistra

    Slap it up you. Don’t see you complaining or concerned when the regular issue of denying staff the right to a Union or protection arises.

  • CW

    I’m not a fan of Ryanair or O’Leary either, but I do fly with them regularly because despite all their faults they are good value. I can’t see these cheap flights with Ryanair and Easyjet lasting much longer in the age of the carbon footprint, so make the most of them while they last!

    http://thelonglane.blogspot.com/search?q=ryanair

    On an unrelated note (apologies for going off topic), but could I request one of the regular bloggers on this site to post a piece on the great Larne-born actor, Harry Towb who passed away recently? His name may not be familiar to many, but his face was a regular feature on stage and screen from “Dr Who” to “The Bill” and the occasional NI “troubles dramas” which were fashionable for a time in the 80s.
    His rich mellow voice was much in demand, and being in the rare position of belonging to the Northern Irish Jewish community, he must have had an interesting perspective on things.

    Link to obituary:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article6730710.ece

  • Oh my God!

    [i]I can’t see these cheap flights with Ryanair and Easyjet lasting much longer in the age of the carbon footprint[/i]

    I’ll begin to worry about my carbon footprint as soon as China ceases to open two new coal power stations per week

  • I look forward to a Ryanair representative popping up and complaining as usually happens on such threads.

  • percy

    Mick,
    There was a time when the kids ( as minors ) could be named on the parent passports,
    does that not apply anymore?

  • sj1

    It’s possible to get a passport in the two days if you have all the documentation. You will have a lot of hair pulling and pleading to do etc but it can be done. I know someone who did it, on the other hand I know people who couldn’t get the passport within one week for their holiday, so its all in the way you go about it.

  • Kids, even babies, have needed their own passports for some time if they are UK passports haven’t they? Don’t know about Irish ones.

  • Different Drummer

    Phew a Shift worker signs in…..

    Yes Mick very important

    The solution: we must nationalize Easy jet and force RA out of business they are disgrace.

  • Mick Fealty

    Gari, yes. But not for travel between B&I. This is a commercial regulation, not something imposed by government.

  • Big Maggie

    Mick,

    Headline a bit OTT? Ryanair are bad, but…

    Also a touch insensitive to those of us who’ve lost close ones in air crashes recently.

  • exile

    I also live abroad and come home about 8 times a year. And I’ll tell you something, I used Ryanair once in all the years I’ve been here and I would rather walk it than use them again!

  • Cheers for that Mick. Way over the top.

  • Shocked regular flyer

    AIRLINE DEMAND TO SEE PASSENGER PASSPORTS!!!

    That’s just about the last thing I’d have expected, no wonder Mick is so hacked off. None of the mainland airlines would do such a thing so why do Ryan Air insist on following the rules? Oh yeah…it’s to annoy their customers.

  • Gav

    “Ryanair are bunch of thieving gits” shocker

    I hate Ryanair. So I don’t travel with them.

    The combination of Ryanair’s awfulness and the Ulster love of complaining is too irresistible for many here.

  • Big Maggie

    Gav,

    “The combination of Ryanair’s awfulness and the Ulster love of complaining is too irresistible for many here.”

    The problem is that Ulster people don’t complain to the people they should. I’ve sat through so many meals in restaurants when after the food is eaten and the bill paid one of our number complained to us that his/her meal was shite.

    “Why didn’t you send it back?” I’d ask. But that wouldn’t have occurred to them. No wonder you can’t eat good grub here except when you pay through the nose for it.

    Same in hotels, shops, banks and airports. Nordies are like sheep. Ryanair treats them the way they do because no one complains when it happens.

  • 6countyprod

    I have flown Ryanair a number of times: so far, so good.

    But these folks seemed to have got a raw deal yesterday.

  • LabourNIman

    They are awful, but simple fact is when flying from belfast with them there is always another airline or two that does the same route so it’s easy to dodge.

    The electron card is brilliant for booking flights but as a number of UK banks are getting rid of them it’s going to be come harder to dodge the fees

  • cynic

    They are truely dire.

    Their entire system is designed to be complex and inefficient so it can catch out as many punters as possible and maximise the income.

    Be sure with Ryanair all they want is to fleece you for as much as possible. That means a low headline fare to hook you then onerous conditions to empty your wallet

  • Davros

    I fly home once a month, often with Ryanair. If you book far enough in advance they’re not often beaten but if you’re late/have to change names/change flights/awkward baggage etc you’re usually better with someone else. Ideal for single commuter, no checked baggage, weekend away with online checkin. Wouldn’t risk them for direct family weddings, job interviews, operations etc.

  • Alternative route to Visa Electron goodness:
    http://www.postoffice.co.uk/portal/po/jump2?catId=19300207&mediaId=26800661

    Or the Halifax “Easycash” basic current account.

  • Guest

    Another way of getting round credit card charges is to buy a “gift voucher”.You will instantly receive a voucher number/code that can be used to book flights, and avoid the charges.

  • DoctorWho

    In all this year I have taken eight Ryan Air flights at a total cost including taxes of 20 euros, half of which was two 5euro online check-in charges.

    I check on their web-site for tax free flights, cheapest options, carry hand luggage only, use an electron card and check-in on line. I do not find any of these things inconvenient and have never experienced unsatisfactory customer service. In fact if Ryan Air didn´t exist I would not be able to do half the travelling I do, most of which is essential and work related.
    Maybe my attitude will change when I experience my first taste of poor customer service, but given that Mick has been whinging about them for the last three years but quite clearly keeps using them, shows that the “airline of shame” is doing something right.

    Like one other poster I am more concerned about the air line´s attitude towards the rights and working conditions of it´s staff, and that is more likely to deter me from using them than having to provide ID for my kids.

    Incidentally if you want to hear an anti Ryan air song, check out “Fly Me to the Moon” by Sweedish singer/songwriter Pelle Carlberg, from his 2008 album “The Lilac Time”.

    Here´s a youtube link to a live version of the song.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1SKldiiWm4

  • Mick Fealty

    Agree with Davros. A £2 return (no taxes) to Dublin is almost irresistible. But I would not put the family through this particular wringer again.

    Further to the saga at the weekend, it transpires we cannot get UK passports for the kids at such short notice. When I spoke to the Irish passport office this morning, the response was ‘Ryanair strikes again’. They could issue them in a day, but it would be judged in terms of the priority of need of those turning up at the office on that day.

    As it happens, since I only have my own short form birth certificate, I cannot pass citizenship on to my English-born kids since only the long form certificate ‘proves’ I was born in Belfast.

    So instead of flying home we’re driving to Scotland and then taking the ferry to Belfast. We’ll keep costs down by leaving the car in Scotland and travelling as foot passengers.

    Big Maggie,

    There is little point in complaining since the TOCs governing the transaction put us in the wrong. The only thing you can do is to not travel with them, or only do so when you are sure you are getting what you’re (not really) paying for.

    That’s the key. To offer bargain prices, you need ‘suckers’ to pay for it. That’s the business model.

    SRF,

    What rules would these be? Kids can fly to Spain and France with EasyJet without photo ID, so why do we need them for all Ryanair flights?

    I do agree it is not to annoy the customers, that’s just an inevitable outcome of their ‘caveat emptor’ business model.

    So what’s the big deal with telling customers up front that the rules have changed when they book their tickets. Why don’t they do it? Simply because it would seriously affect the company’s bottom-line.

    I will continue to use RA, but only when I can be certain it damages their own rather than my bottom line.

  • Mick Fealty

    Oh, you tease DoctorWho:

    “I am more concerned about the air line´s attitude towards the rights and working conditions of it´s staff.”

    Yeah, but not really.

  • alex b

    Mick, shower of sh%ts. I used to regularly fly with them when i was in Brussels. I swore that i will never use them again. Rude staff, rip off add ons, no come backs if the flights are delayed etc. My advice is to avoid them like the plague no matter how enticing the offer. I would rather pay the extra 50 quid knowing that i’m flying to a proper airport on a proper carrier that at least treats mw with a modicum of respect.

    O’Leary is a shyster anyway, charging for bogs, luggage and who know what else.

  • DoctorWho

    Mick

    “Yeah, but not really.”

    Er, yes really actually and not just Ryanair, there is widespread exploitation of British and Irish workers by travel agencies and airlines. I do have considerable experience of this. Try working a 24 hour shift at a busy airport, being spat on by angry customers on delays, then be told by your boss that you´re expected back in work eight hours later. A very common occurance.

    Ryanair seem to put unreasonable time demands on it´s fulltime staff, they also employ a high percentage of underpaid agency staff. The recent debacle at Stanstead was a result of unrealistic demands of their baggage and ground handlers Swiss Port, who in the last two years have won many Ryanair airport contracts by simply offering the cheapest service.

    The fact is regards prices, the customer travelling with a family with a piece of luggage each and no access to an electron card is effectively paying for my flights and if that happens to be you, I thank you for it. Of course the alternative is don´t be one of the “suckers” and fly with someone else.

    BTW did you enjoy the Pelle Carlberg link.

  • Mick Fealty

    DW,

    Just pointing out the glaring disjunction between your concern for workers rights and the delight you take in getting and consuming your ‘free lunches’.

    I highlighted what happened to us in the hope that others don’t fall into the same particular hole. Not for anyone’s faux sympathy.

    This Dispatches programme is more informative than Pelle’s skit:

    Or this comedy skit, which is on the US model ‘dumb suckers will pay for your free lunches’ O’Leary based his business model upon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3so6AJe4UQ.

  • sinless

    There are several issues here. If your kids need passports, that is not Ryanair ripping you off. They are cost cutters so you do have to approach them in a niggardly way with no baggage etc.

    Personally I found Aer Lingus the worst of the lot. As for British Airways, putting in extra seats to steal your leg room, or Lufthansa gouging on the Latin American runs….

    I recently flew Be.com and the french lady beside me was gouged on luggage; she was getting a connecting BE flight, so had to pay twice for one piece of luggage.

    Why the great unwashed need holidays anyway is beyond me.

    I flew Ryanair once and had no complaints. Flew Aer Lingus many times and had lots.

    Consumption obsessed, I guess.

  • DoctorWho

    Mick,

    I was just wondering why after so much dis-satisfaction with ryanair, you even bothered to plan to use them again.

    I see a clear distinction between being satisfied in obtaining an air seat for next to nothing and having concerns for workers within the travel industry. Where is the “glaring disjunction”?

    I have previously watched the Dispatches programme and it did give me cause for concern, particularly in it´s treatment of it´s staff. This of course is a luxury that most companies enjoy these days and if I where to boycott firms for exploting their work force, I probably wouldn´t be able to leave the house.

    I would prefer to use easyjet whenever I travel, but there is an old saying about beggars and choosers. Furthermore in relation to complaints, too many people immediately accuse staff of rudeness, without first looking at their own behaviour. It´s unfortunate that people think it´s ok to abuse travel staff in a way that other professions in the customer service industry wouldn´t stand for. The staff at airports dealing with Ryanair would most likely be their handling agents, whose hands are generally tied, I have heard such staff being racially abused and physically threatened over trivial matters such as having to pay for a boarding pass for failling to check-in online. The level of abuse is a way out of perspective.

    Anyway I hope you and the family enjoy your trip.

  • Mick Fealty

    sinless,

    I don’t mind that the kids need passports. It’s that I find out only when I ‘check in’ on line days before the flight; and not two months previously when we booked the tickets (and when we could have actually done something about it).

    Only flown Aer Lingus once (literally, one way), and had no complaints. Did last class BA to Ngeria once, and that came with minus leg room.

    Some of this comes down to customer expectation. But mine has never been high where Ryanair is concerned. As they say in the training session on the Dispatches programme, ‘the customer does not matter’.

    As I said above, it is worth highlighting the pitfalls, so others don’t fall into them.

  • Mick Fealty

    DW,

    I’ve never complained about the way RA staff deal with the public. As related to Big Maggie, there is no point, since their hands are tied by the way the company conducts its business. IMHO there is only point in sharing negative experiences in order to pass it on.

    I’m not for boycotting them, just for dealing with them at every turn as though they were out to get you, even if they’re not. The more people get and eat the free lunches the greater the pressure for them to deal with people in a more honest and decent way.

    BTW, you either care about the way they treat their staff, or you don’t. If you don’t, that’s fine by me. But in that case, don’t try ‘buzzing’ me with false arguments.

  • Big Maggie

    Mick,

    “There is little point in complaining since the TOCs governing the transaction put us in the wrong.”

    Please don’t say that! Morally you are not “in the wrong”. It wouldn’t be the first time that such examples of el fino printo were challenged and found to be unacceptable to decent society.

    Slugger would be an excellent launching pad for any campaign you wish to initiate. You can count on my total support for a start.

  • Guest

    Russian roulette or Lativian roulette?
    just to be clear.
    These people go for interviews in Latvia and are then flown to Ireland where they undergo 6 weeks of training that they pay for by way of a Bank of Ireland loan of roughly 3 thousand euros, arranged on arrival.They then start their unemployment under a subcontracter who Ryanair pays and who take the loan repayments from their wage meaning they earn about 900 euros a month.They are a lovely people but half of them don’t speak decent english and in some cases such as Charleroi are set up apartments that are owned by people who work for Ryanair.A large percentage of them do not know the difference between an oxygen bottle and a fire extinguisher.In the event of an accident involving the necessity to activate the slides they’d be more likely to turn the oven;

  • I wonder if Ryanair ever crosschecks the letters they get saying “I WILL NEVER FLY WITH YOU AGAIN!” with their passenger lists and chuckle when said correspondent books a new flight.

    Apple are like Ryanair with a smiley face – and I say that having owned three iPods and about to fork for a Touch.