Getting Shafted or How Ryanair is Able to Sell Flights for £0.01

I am not one for rolling over and allowing my self to be ripped off. If I am ever buying something of notable value, say a TV or a car, I always do a fair amount of research and investigation before even setting foot in somewhere a person can try and bullshit me into paying money for something that is actually not worth that. For example, when it came to buying Rock Band early this year, I spent hours trawling places to see if I could get a better deal on it from various sources. And the deal I ended up with was not that bad… but still expensive.

But what if it was something I had no expectation on experiencing? On Saturday I was at Prestwick airport sending Ana to France via an Airport. Again. Anyway, at check in, I noticed that there were a few times where people were talking in annoyance to the check in desk lady. Ana didn’t see this, having to jump to the loo whilst I edged closer and closer to a check in desk that I was going to have to admit that “This is NOT my bag, someone else did pack it and… yep, I’m not even going on holiday”.

Ana was hit with several extra charges at the check in desk. She was charged for taking a bag into the hold and for checking in at the airport. This was her fault, I assumed, having not read the terms of which she bought the ticket. It probably hurt that the price of the flight was ¼ the price of the “fee” that was being charged. I had assumed wrong however – upon going to the “paying” desk to take the fee, there was a quue of what I can only say is about 90% of the people on that flight, each having to pay £20 to check in at the airport.

Now this I can understand. Fair play, you have to pay someone to check people in, so far so okay. But then, to not have a self check in service at the airport? That’s a little cheeky. And then, when asked, it turns out that you have to pay the £20 anyway, even if you did check in online or using one of the kiosks (if there were any) you’d still be charged the £20 because at the time of the booking you chose not to pay it in the ticket price. We’ll come back to that. The other charge was that of checking a bag into the hold. That’s okay, I can see why you can charge that. But then… why not put that in the price?

Basically the problem I have with these charges is not the charges to be honest, but the transparency. I can imagine buying the ticket online and seeing the option to “check a bag in” and changing it and seeing the price drop. You’d go for the lower price, obviously. But then you’d have to pay it anyway… so why have the option to remove it? Why have the ability to take a non-optional fee off as an option? That smacks of dirty tactics to make people buy it on the low price and then hit them later with an arbitrary fee that they thought they had avoided.

Anyway, it seems that the outpouring of annoyance was not only coming from the passengers – the representative of Prestwick, not employed by Ryanair, was also pissed at the continuing barrage of annoyed customers. It didn’t end with the Dublin flight either… the queues of people paying the “fine” were the Murcia flight and was probably preceded by the London flight.

I don’t think many people flying on Saturday will fly again with Ryanair. I know I won’t.