Thursday, May 14, 2009

Me to Ryanair: Don't Print This or I Will Bill You

If it were another joke or public relations buzz-attempt from European low-cost carrier Ryanair, it might be amusing.

But, Ryanair's decision to scrap airport check-in counters and to charge passengers exorbitant fees for -- are you ready? -- boarding passes, is ridiculous.

Among the highlights, or lowlights from my perspective, Ryanair will be charging their customers about $14 for online check-ins, and if would-be passengers -- i.e. people who bought airline tickets -- show up at the airport without boarding passes, the airline will charge them $55 each for "reissuing" the boarding pass.

And, of course, the idea of customer service is so yesterday. Ryanair won't have airport check-in counters, and will opt merely for bag-drop-off areas.

This, of course, is all in the name of reducing distribution costs and upping revenue from what used to be known as optional services. However, boarding passes somehow don't fall into the "optional" category.

Let's remember: Ryanair is the airline that recently floated the idea of charging passengers to use the toilet, in what the Travolution blog termed a Pay-to-Pee policy.

The Web-check-in fee amounts to a booking fee, and Ryanair now counts itself as one of the few airlines that tack on booking fees.

The policy is outrageous. What about some elderly people and even the younger set, who might not be computer-literate?

Has your printer ever run out of ink, making it impossible for you to print a boarding pass?

Or, what if you are traveling or booking at the last minute and can't get to a printer?

All of these scenarios might make you susceptible to the $54 per person boarding-pass reissue fee at the airport.

Let's see, for a family of four, that's $216 for boarding passes.

I have this to say to Ryanair: Don't you dare print this blog. I just happen to be in the cantankerous mood to charge you a $70 fee for that privilege.

Of course, discussion about Ryanair's plans to deep-six airport-ticket counters takes place as airline executives huddled up in Miami over the last few days for the Airline Sales Channel and A-La-Carte Pricing conference, where you can bet Ryanair's policies were watched closely.

I previously came up with a very reasonable idea for this conference, but reliable sources tell me that conference organizers failed to heed my advice.

Ryanair is going about creating new revenue streams in all the wrong ways. Instead, the airline should treat its passengers as customers, and not try to gouge them with fees for services that previously were free.

I hope there is a public outcry about Ryanair's policies and that the airline is forced to flush them down their dreamed-of paid toilets.


Anonymous said...

Two thoughts:

1) Wasn't Ryanair also the first with the then-crazy idea of charging for the first checked bag?

2) I know malls where customers pay for parking -- to go in and shop. And guess what? The malls seem to do well. In fact, I mutter under my breath the whole time about paying for the privilege of spending my money, but I go there, too!

Dennis Schaal said...

Yes, Ryanair, at least in Europe, as far as I know, was among the first airlines to charge for a first checked bag. Rather than paying for mall parking, I suspect that some of Ryanair's shoppers will get fed up and speed away to another shopping area.

Anonymous said...

Just been charged £80 for not printing boarding pass. Annoyed. Beyond belief!BUT I canot find the link to actually print the damned!

Dennis Schaal said...

Here's a link I found for checking in online for Ryanair's flights.