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Spain: Ryanair (aka Adventures in Flying)

Ryanair, the low-cost, low-luxury Irish airline is once again coming under fire, this time for numerous incidents that have built up over the course of the past few weeks. On July 23, 2012, three Ryanair planes had to make emergency landings in Valencia due to lack of fuel.

In September, two more planes made emergency landings in Madrid because of technical problems and depressurization, and another in Barcelona due to loss of fuel. The issue has not left netizens indifferent, and they did not hesitate to make jokes about the situation:

@Joanavas: Dentro de unas horas monto en #ryanair. Encantada de haberos conocido.

@Joanavas: I'm getting on #ryanair in a few hours. It's been a pleasure knowing you all.

@mgarnedo: Hoy vuelo con #ryanair, mañana actualizo la sección de hobbies de mi @linkedin añadiendo deportes de riesgo #wishmeluck

@mgarnedo: Today I'm flying with #ryanair, tomorrow I'm updating my Hobbies section on LinkedIn to add extreme sports #wishmeluck

@Lausfdez: Hoy tenía dos opciones, quedarme plácidamente en mi cama o ir al aeropuerto. Elegí vivir al límite. #Ryanair

@Lausfdez: Today I had two options: staying peacefully in bed or going to the airport. I chose to live life to the fullest. #Ryanair

@Txemitta: #ryanair les la nova loteria… Saps de quin aeroports despegues pero no on aterreras…

@Txemitta#ryanair is the new lottery… you know which airport you're leaving from, but not the one you will land in…

Avión de Ryanair «decorado» por Navidad. Foto de la página de Ryanair en Facebook.

Ryanair plane “decorated” for the holidays.  Photo taken from the Ryanair Facebook page.

But, is Ryanair a safe airline? According to a report from the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) [es], it is. According to the Spanish pilots labor union [es], Sepla, “[Ryanair] takes the low cost concept too far, always straying into the security limits of legislation.”

(Ryanair has announced that it will launch legal actions against Sepla for their declarations, which they call slanderous, and in turn, adjudicator Soledad Becerril will initiate a court-appointed action to ensure that the company does not violate air security regulations nor the rights of the passengers.)

Despite what Doris Casaites writes on her blog “3viajes al día” [es], the Ryanair's cabin staff does not appear to be too concerned, since on a flight from Gerona to Madrid she had the opportunity to hear the following comments over the PA system:

como ya sabemos que todos piensan que somos unos chorizos, agarren bien sus bolsos por si acaso les robamos, y si no se fían pueden encender las luces de lectura
(…)
si compran [su lotería], les puede sacar de sus miserables y ruinosas vidas. Hasta el piloto me acaba de llamar por el interfono para pedirme un cupón porque hoy no hemos vendido ni uno

since we all already know that everyone thinks we are a bunch of thieves, make sure to hold on to your bags in case we rob you, and if you don't trust us, you can turn on the reading lights

(…)

if you buy [lottery tickets], it can be a way out of your miserable and disastrous lives. Even the pilot just called me on the intercom to ask me for a ticket because we have not sold a single one today

In reality, flying with Ryanair is often anything but cheap. If you buy a round trip flight for two European destinations online, in addition to the cost of the two trips, you will have to pay a 4€ tax for flight delays/cancellations, 12€ to do an online check-in, 50€ for checking a 15 kg bag (60€ for a 20 kg bag) and 12€ in administrative costs. This is to say that Ryanair will raise the initial price of the trip by at least 78€ (39€ each way).

If they discover that you exceeded the baggage limit in the airport, Ryanair will charge you 20€ per kg until a maximum of 32 kg. If you do not complete the check-in online or you forget to print your boarding passes, Ryanair will fine you 60€.

It is worth adding that Ryanair received over 793 million euro [es] in public subsidies in Europe over the course of the last year. This money is what permitted the company to turn a profit of 503 million euro [es] during that time period with such low costs.

Ryanair's dramatic CEO, Michael O'Leary, appears to know no limits when it comes to cutting costs… and “privileges” for his customers. In addition to his plans to place an extra charge [es] on obese individuals, demand 1€ to use the restroom, remove two of the three restrooms from each plane to make room for more seats, install the so-called vertical seats or suggest that passengers carry their own bags to the plane, he has added a proposal that planes fly without a copilot and, in case one is necessary, it be one of the crew members that land [es] the plane.

Michael O'Leary vestido de torero. Foto del blog banbloodsports.com

Michael O'Leary dressed as a bullfighter. Photo taken from banbloodsports.com

O'Leary does not refrain. On Belgian website références [fr], we find many statements of such a controversial character:

We don't want to hear your sob stories. What part of ‘no refund’ don't you understand?
(…)
We would welcome a good, deep, bloody recession in this country for 12 to 18 months … It would help see off the environmental nonsense.
(…)
We need a recession. We have had 10 years of growth. A recession gets rid of crappy loss-making airlines and it means we can buy aircraft more cheaply.

 

In 2006, the BBC Channel 4′s program, Dispatches, placed two of its journalists on Ryanair as flight attendants. They worked in the company for five months and filmed all sorts of irregularities.

The video talks about lack of training, little regard for accreditation of their personnel, 25-minute stops during which it is impossible to conduct a proper investigation of the aircraft, sufficient fuel loads and borderline illegal work conditions. Not to mention the total disregard for their clients, who they appear to consider stupid for flying with this airline. Judge for yourselves, and hope that things have gotten much better since then:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5BLkBeLj_o&feature=related

Take, for example, Ryanair's Facebook page, where most entries are complaints from outraged passengers saying that the company does not even bother to respond. No comment.

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