Budget airlines - what's a fair price to fly cheap?
Ryanair has much in common with the unfamiliar brands of foul Russian vodka sold in your local disheveled off-license; it gets the job done, but it wouldn't be your first choice if you had more money. It's also likely to make you go blind which again, is not unlike Ryanair, who are often accused of taking your eyes out.
As we know, a cheap flight with the Irish airline is exactly that, and only that; if you're some kind of freak who insists on luggage, it'll cost you. If you don't book your luggage in before arriving at the airport, that means more pennies. And if you want to pay by any means other than the near-obscure Electron card, prepare to cough up. Yes, in the world of Ryanair (and several other airlines, to be fair) their no-frills policy includes no luggage and no easy way of providing payment.
And now, no duty-free. Actually, that's not quite true; you can still buy duty-free before boarding your flight, but according to recent press stories you'll be charged £28.50 for carrying this additional hand luggage onto the plane; if you can't fit the booty into your carry-on bag, you'll be asked to put your existing hand luggage in the hold and pay the appropriate fee for doing so.
Chief executive Michael O'Leary, described by Sky Money journalist Nic Cicutti as "one of the rudest people I have ever come across... indulging in some of the most disgraceful charging practices I have ever come across in my life," defended the practise when speaking to the Telegraph:
"We are not running around like Nazis targeting people. We are doing this because, people with extra bags are slowing down the boarding of our planes. If you turn up at the gate with a bottle of Asti Spumante, all we are saying is shove it in your bag."
Does carrying a bottle of Asti Spumante really stop a plane taking off on time? Does Duty Free even sell it? It's more likely that we're talking about a couple of bottles of Bolly or 200 fags, which can't really be "shoved" anywhere. Or maybe they could.
If the charges are perceived by customers to be a deal-breaker, it'll be bad news for the airports used by Ryanair; many of the smaller terminals pay the airline to fly from them, in order to generate revenue from passengers spending money at the airport. Ah.
It once again raises the thorny issue of budget airlines and what we're prepared to accept to fly for less, so we'd like to know your thoughts about flying on the cheap:
- In these environmentally-conscious times, should flying be a privilege, rather than a right?
- As far as budget airlines are concerned, what basics should be covered by the cost of your ticket?
- What charges, hidden or otherwise do you object to most?
- Which airlines would you recommend, and which would you avoid like the now legendary plague?
Ultimately, do budget airlines still represent an affordable and worthwhile way to travel? Let us know what you think.