The BBC's documentary 'Why Hate Ryanair?' came under a lot of criticism for failing to highlight the real reasons behind a lot of people's dislike of the Irish airline. Here are my ten answers to the question 'Why Hate Ryanair?'
Usually, when you buy a product, you get it for the price listed. But not only do Ryanair omit taxes and fees from their advertised prices (breaking fair trade guidelines), they have also found more ways to charge you after you've paid than any other airline. For example: Ryanair is the only airline in Europe with a 'boarding card reprint fee', it has the highest 'name change' fee (even to correct a typo) and the highest excess luggage fee in Europe. (More airport-levied fees listed below.)
Yes, these costs are all avoidable - but the mere fact they exist (plus the many complaint emails I receive) suggests that many people are falling for them. If you flew for 1c - well done, but someone else paid for your flight with their mistakes.
Ryanair has the best punctuality record in Europe. Says who? Says Ryanair. Every other airline relies on the IATA for its punctuality record, Ryanair (who has not joined the IATA) provides its own data for you. That, along with inflated flight times that give them a lot of leeway - a flight that is half an hour late in departing will still land on time - and you've got yourself that amazing punctuality record. Clever, eh? Luckily, I've found an independent site that provides its own Ryanair punctuality figures. You can see those figures by clicking below:
Ryanair and Wizzair are the only airlines in Europe with hand luggage dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm. It is the awkward 20cm that might catch you out - a bag with a shortest length of 22cm that you could take with you on most other airlines won't be allowed on Ryanair or easyJet. If so, you have to check your bag in, costing you more. If you've reached your baggage allowance already, checking in this bag will cost you up to 200€ (20€ per kilo).
And even when you have stuck to Ryanair's unusual dimensions, sometimes they may still charge you.
Would it normally be legal for the sole earner of a family of four to have to pay 40 euros for something that cost a business man just 10 euros for the exact same service? Normally, no, but Ryanair have got away with it. Ryanair's per-person-per-flight credit card fee affects families with a single income more than a wealthy business man.
And then there's the constantly changing means that Ryanair offers to allow you to avoid the fees. First they said you could use a Visa Electron card, so a lot of people went out and got that. Then they changed that and said we should get Prepaid Mastercards to avoid the fee. So we did. And now they've dropped that and said we have to get Ryanair-branded Prepaid Mastercards if we want to avoid the charges. What next?
A court in Germany has already deemed this charge to be illegal, we shall see if Ryanair ever retracts the fee.
With its exceptionally high baggage charges, Ryanair again subsidizes the better-off weekend trippers and business travelers (who can more easily travel with just hand luggage) at the expense of poorer families on their annual two-week vacation (try going away for two weeks on hand luggage alone!).
Ryanair likes to portray itself as the champion of the working-class vacation, but these last two points show how it is actually the rich middle classes that gain most from Ryanair.
Taking an internal flight in the UK? British citizens need a passport to fly with Ryanair (but with no other airline). Are you not from the EU? You need to have a 'visa stamp' from Ryanair officials (requiring you to queue up at a different desk), a requirement no other airline in Europe has. A slight tear on your passport? Ryanair will deem this an 'incorrect travel document' (even when customs say there is nothing wrong with it). None of these are legal requirements, just Ryanair decrees.
Is there any justification for these measures other than to make your life more difficult and, just maybe, cause you to miss your flight and pay a flight change fee? I'm waiting for Ryanair to give me a justification for these requirements.
These small airports skew the figures in favor of Ryanair. When they do fly to big airports, their record will slip. And if your bag does get lost, how much will Ryanair pay you?: 15€.
If Ryanair really was Europe's favorite airline, as the company claims, why do they need to make these wild claims?
Barcelona is listed as a Ryanair destination on the airline's booking system. But Ryanair doesn't fly to Barcelona! Ryanair has taken the unilateral step of listing two airports 100km away from Barcelona as 'Girona (Barcelona)' and 'Reus (Barcelona)'. No other airline does this, and not even the airports themselves, who obviously also want more passengers, dare do this.
With these last three points, is it not right to hate a company - especially one you trust with your life - that you can't trust to be straight with you on simple facts like luggage loss, how long your flight is going to take and where exactly they're flying you to?
How many companies are allowed to sell you a service and then not actually provide it? At 19 airports in Europe, Ryanair sells you priority boarding and doesn't actual give you what you've paid for. Ryanair's head of communications described this non-provision of services to me as 'a trivial, non-issue'. Nice to see how much they care, isn't it?
When I asked Ryanair to name these 19 airports, they refused to answer, instead questioning my professional credentials.
Read more about how you might not get Ryanair's priority boarding even though you've paid for it, and the simple way easyJet has got around the exact same issue:
With so many ways in which a charge could be levied by mistake, you would think Ryanair would make it easy to contact them, wouldn't you? But Ryanair breaks British Electronic Commerce Regulations by failing to provide an email address on their site - you must write to them by post instead.
This reliance on the postal service makes it easier for Ryanair to misplace your complaints. Stephen McNamara, Ryanair's head of communications, told me Ryanair had received 'no complaints' about the priority boarding problem highlighted above, despite the fact that I was in possession of a letter sent by a dissatisfied customer to Ryanair ten days previously.