Why is Ryanair Becoming Nice? It’s Scaring Me…
People’s opinion to Europe’s “favourite” (it’s in quotations in this case, because it’s generally far from true) low-cost airline has generally been split between those who absolutely loathe the carrier, and those who say something to the effect that it could be worse and then take them anyway. There’s always been a sub-group of business travellers who’ve also always taken them purely based on their unbeatable (I mean that) punctuality, but that’s been about as far as it goes.
I must admit, openly and honestly, I absolutely despise Ryanair and have kept good on my promise – in spite of thousands of miles of travelling – not to use them ever since the Oslo-gate incident in 2008. Effectively, their website crashed, I couldn’t check in online before the stupid 4 hour cut-off, and then was forced to pay a ridiculous charge per person for the luxurious benefit of them printing off the boarding card in Dublin Airport. I swore during the flight to Oslo that they’d never receive a cent of my money again and unlike, I suspect, countless others, have actually kept good on this promise right up to the present day.
Last year at some point, due to dwindling passenger figures and revenue, they announced that they were going to start trying to aim for a more ‘softer’ image, more appealing to varying passenger segments, etc. I actually laughed out loud and thought to myself, ‘no, you’ll have to do better than that’. Since Oslo-gate, Aer Lingus has long been my European airline of choice and they have my loyalty to the point that I’d almost rather lie in front of one of their planes wheels’ before allowing Michael O’Leary take it under his control.
Aer Lingus have had their fair share of trouble – see my blog on the topic of Aer Lingus throughout the years and you’ll see that I’ve been more than critical of them too, but always with a good heart and some practical suggestions. They’ve always provided a reasonably polite and mannerly service, food and extra options that haven’t cost a total king’s ransom, clean and comfortable service, and most importantly – personal, attentive service. You see, sometimes leaving on the dot of punctuality, for me at least, takes less precedence than not feeling like a prisoner of war for the duration of the flight. I have always, no matter what, felt welcome on an Aer Lingus flight.
Disclaimer (out loud), they gave me a Gold Circle membership a year or two back when I transferred from the now-defunct BMI and I do enjoy and very much like their Gold Circle benefits like lounge, airport security pass (which in Dublin Airport is quite important given the apparent inability to roster staff properly at peak), etc.
However – I opened up the Ryanair website the other day, and all I can say honestly, is Aer Lingus have a run for their money on their hands. Actually, they don’t – the new Ryanair website looks a lot better I’m actually sorry to say. That really is something considering their previous website was essentially unusable without the patience of a saint. This worried me significantly.
Also, they have now implemented a second piece of free cabin baggage. On my last flight with Aer Lingus, the one piece of baggage became a bone of contention as the plane was full and they absolutely and resolutely insisted on putting it in the hold, even though this made transferring in Heathrow a total nightmare as I then had to exit Terminal 1 as normal to claim back my bag, go to Terminal 3 and start all over.
Topped off with the 48-hours complimentary ability to make minor changes to your booking and seat allocation, and Ryanair, in my opinion are seriously onto something. Their prices are still good (not as good as the glory days but sure, you can’t have it all) and these services – real, free proper services we all like, topped off with a website that I find very easy to use and graphically, very attractive – is sure to give our national mainstay a serious run for their money.
You never know, I may even have to give Ryanair a second chance at some point in the near future, just for the sport…short of the lounge access, they’ve nearly reinvented themselves to meet me full-on. Lounge access though, that will be the day…
Has anyone tried ‘new’ Ryanair – do the staff seem anymore content than before and how is the on-board service?