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The Joy of Travel


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No. 2  Ryanair.

Ryanair. “Probably” the most disliked airline in the world, barring possibly United Airlines. You’ve heard of United! That’s the airline that lost a child in transit, ignored her and refused to help her, even though they’d been responsible for her missing her flight in the first place. Yes, United may very well pip Ryanair to the post in the unpopularity stakes.  However, had Ryanair lost a child in transit it would almost certainly have found a way to make money out of it, one way or the other. By charging it for taking up space, for instance. It would be bound to think of something.

Because, in truth, Ryanair isn’t really an airline. It’s a sort of one-way bank. In fact, Ryanair could well adopt the advertising slogan of Carlsberg. But not in a good way. “Probably” the most acquisitive and grasping airline in the world. “Probably” the stingiest company in the world with the worst customer service. “Probably” the most uncomfortable seats anywhere, ever. (They don’t go back, forcing you to sit in an upright position, making it impossible to sleep and giving you a crick in your neck that will cost you a visit to the osteopath.)

If you are retired and can hop on a plane at will you can visit a wealth of European cities for £5 or thereabouts. You don’t need much luggage for a day or two. Or, if you are fortunate enough to own a property abroad and can book ahead, you can travel really cheaply as everything you need is already at your destination. And you can re-stock once or twice a year by driving over in the car laden with goodies.

However, for many of us, Ryanair is an airline of necessity – never the airline of choice. Apart from anything else it’s guaranteed to raise your blood pressure to dangerous levels the moment you go on the website From the outrageous £18 extra to pay by debit card (you use the card once, they charge you twice – £9 each way), to the nail biting wait to see if they’ll decide that your luggage is 1 mm larger than their stingy allowance so they can gleefully charge you an extra £50 and upwards. To inchoate fury as you see smug bastards getting away with ‘hand luggage’ that must contain at the very least a small giraffe. (I still haven’t worked out how they get away with it. Maybe Ryanair know how to pick their fights.)

No sooner have the wheels left the tarmac than the rest of the malarkey begins. First we have the safety announcements, rushed through at a rate of knots, virtually incomprehensible so fast are they gabbled. (And “probably” a complete waste of time. You’d have to be pretty gullible to believe that, should anything untoward happen when over water, you’d have time to inflate your life jacket, let alone blow your whistle. As to coming down over land … best not go there.

Back to the on-board experience! No sooner has the safety thing been got out of the way than the sales patter begins.  Starting with newspapers, followed by ‘beverages’, then food. Phew! No, not phew. We haven’t finished. Not by a long way.  Next come the duty free, booze, perfume and gifts – but not all together. No, they are paraded one at a time to draw it out to the max. So now can I try to sleep? Not on your nelly. They still have to try to flog the scratch cards – scratch cards! Ye Gods and little fishes!

That was the outward journey. It was even worse on the way back. We were welcomed aboard ‘courtesy of Ryanair and …’ I didn’t catch the name. It sounded like J-Lo – an orange juice company I believe, not the the actress of the same name. The announcement was accompanied by the amplified sound of ice cubes rattling in a glass in what I suppose was an attempt to make us salivate and order shedloads of the stuff. This of course was followed by the usual sales pitches for all the aforementioned articles – now with the addition of oyster cards, travel cards, phone cards, museum and gallery cards.

The man would sell his own granny if he thought he could make a profit. There are some will disagree with me, like those property owners and retired people mentioned earlier. I’m not a spoilsport. I’m all for cheaper travel. But Ryanair is extortionate, inconsistent and nasty with it. Yes, Mr O’Leary, you do indeed make me ashamed to be Irish.

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