THE news that Ryanair is offering standing seating to customers should come as a surprise to nobody who has ever travelled on the carrier. Indeed, it is the logical extension of its ethos, which involves turning aeroplanes into a mix of a fairground and a sardine tin. The idea behind this radical new idea is quite simple: that they can get more passengers on. Ryanair is often sneered at by middle class travellers for its unabashed desire to maximise profit at the expense of subtly and taste, but that is mere snobbery.
You might not like the idea that they are proposing to charge for passengers to use the toilet, but the idea that you spend a penny and they get a pound is satisfyingly symbolic of the very successful Ryanair money-making machine.
Anyway, what’s wrong with standing? I stand on the Tube, I stand on the bus, I stand in the pub. It might get a bit boring, but it’s not the end of the world, and frankly airline seats are so cramped that I’d prefer to be on my own two feet. True, it might not be the best for takeoff and landing, but they say that you might be given a bar-stool with a seatbelt. Fine with me, and I assume it’s also okay with the many Ryanair passengers who treat flights as an excuse to get ratted. Why not just turn it into a flying pub?
(That said, a stool might not be the best place to be if you had to land somewhere less smooth than a runway, not a totally absurd idea for an airline which, a few years ago, landed in a military air-base instead of Londonderry airport.)
All in all, I say good luck to them. The experience could hardly be more unpleasant if you were chained to the walls. Standing room only? If it’s 20 per cent cheaper, as the company says it will be, then that’s fine and dandy by me.
RYANAIR CEO Michael O’Leary has never struck me as the most pleasant of businesspeople. Now he’s come out with the charming idea of getting passengers to stand on flights by charging (still) less. During takeoff and landing they can perch, strapped in, on bar stools.
Nobody could make me fly that already parodic airline on foot – the idea is an insult. It’s bad enough sitting – who needs a further discount off their £10 flight? Is human comfort and dignity really so cheaply bought?
Of course, if you’re whacked with one of the airline’s merciless and outrageous baggage fees, you may well appreciate the few quid off for standing. But at that point, you might as well fly BA.
Ending up among a stag do is another terrifying thought. I’d hate to be wasting strength on standing up when I need all of it to pray.
And when the attendants aren’t droning over the intercom trying to sell you hangover cures or lottery tickets, they’re ramming into you with their trolleys of expensive gunk. You need to be seated to endure this, so that you can hide behind the seat in front of you and bury yourself in something distracting, like a book, or the Bible.
O’Leary’s just getting too big for his boots. He thinks we’ll put up with any amount of hell for a cheap flight. He’s wrong. At a certain point, the unpleasantness of the experience will overshadow the cost – and the way things are going, the holiday itself. Already, where possible, I fly easyJet, a step up.
And finally, Ryanair’s main selling point above easyJet is its obscure destinations. But I’ll be rethinking my trips to Rzeszow and Klagenfurt before I have to pay O’Leary to stand on one of his nasty little flights.