How Ryanair can rape and pillage your pockets for in-flight calls

So the good news is that Europe is about to start enjoying the use of mobile phones on flights across the continent. The bad news is that it's courtesy of Ryanair, and as plenty of people have discovered, very little is ever provided as a courtesy.

More than 20 planes flying on routes out of Dublin will be offering mobile, text and email functionality, which Ryanair is hoping to roll out across all routes by late 2010. Passengers will make and receive voice calls at non-European Union international roaming rates of £1.50 to £3 a minute; texts will cost 40 pence and e-mails using phones and other devices will cost as much as £2 per message. No, your eyes aren't broken. They may as well go the full hog and burgle your home while you're on the flight.

Why non-EU international roaming rates? Aren't Dublin and Ryanair's other destinations within the EU? The EU international roaming tariffs agreed in 2007 state a maximum price of 32p per minute ex VAT for roamed calls originating and terminating in the EU. So how is Ryanair getting away with it?

Notes on EU international roaming reveal that the EU tariffs "deal with the issue of roaming on terrestrial networks... the definitions therefore do not apply, even though it is in many respects similar to a roamed service". They continue by saying that "in a market economy, prices for communication services should first of all be determined by market forces... the Commission therefore finds it preferable to give commercial forces the chance to work".

So Ryanair can charge what it likes while no precedent is set, in order to ascertain what customers are willing to pay. However, "it is clear that take-up would be best served if mobile network operators pursue from the beginning a transparent pricing policy and avoid prices which would be considered excessive by consumers or even represent shock bills."

What isn't clear in this instance is who will rake in the majority of the profits; Ryanair or the operators. Regardless, there's absolutely no doubt that at up to £3 a minute for a call, the prices will be considered excessive by most passengers. The question is how transparent will Ryanair make its pricing policy? We want your help to find out. If you travel on a Ryanair route covered by the scheme over the coming days, let us know exactly how the price tariffs are being advertised. Are there large signs on the backs of seats? A quarter-page tucked away in the back of the duty-free magazine? How are customers being made aware of the tariffs? If you can, take a photo and send it to [email protected]


  • Ryannoair
    I think its terrible. What about a passengers right to a quiet journey? Mind you at present, you never know if you were seated next to a hoard of rowdy kids, so I suppose a phone conversation or two won't make much difference. What next? A charge to use the online toilets? I'll be ensuring I take my mp3 player so I can drown out any noise from loud children / people who use their phones.
  • Dan D.
    This was on BBC breakfast this morning. It is an absolute joke a light comes on to say you can use the phone whilst in the air but when close to the ground or taxing at the airport (which is normally a long time with queues in both directions) you can’t use your phone. Is that because you will be able to get on to your home network and not be charged for the privilege of using it by Ryan air. I bet they quote safety rules about being able to issue commands in an emergency or some other dross. OK Ryan air let us use our phones but let us use them on our own terms and not at your over inflated prices. If a phone is safe to use at 10,000 feet then it should be safe to use at any point in the flight.
  • Jim
    @Dan Dare (before I start, I don't work for Ryan air, and have never flown with them) I believe it's all about radio interference. Like the noise you get when through your speakers when a call comes to your mobile. Only imagine it in the pilots headphones as he/she gets take-off instructions, or doesn't get a warning to abort a landing....
  • Callum
    Do people ever stop moaning? Ryanair provide budget flights, if you want anything but the bare minimum you have to pay for it. There is a reason why you pay less for the ticket...
  • Simon
    If you don't like it, don't use it... it's really that simple. I can fully understand why Ryanair offers this. Most flights are around 1-1.5 hours. If someone needs to use a phone in that time, then they must have some urgent requirement for it. So - why not charge them accordingly. Any other extra service that Ryanair provides that helps keep flights free is ok by me in my book.
  • A.drewn
    Ryan Air are doing most people a favour at these prices ; a) not many people will make use of the facility - so the flight won't be really annoying b) the people who do are helping to keep the cost of flights down
  • Liddle m.
    Not strictly to do with the pricing policy, but my thought is whether Ryanair pilots will flick the switch and allow passengers on a crashing / hijacked plane talk to loved ones before they die, as some were able to on United Airlines Flight 93? Morbid I know, but I can't get that image out of my head when I think of mobile phones on aircraft. The price of the call doesn't seem all that important in that context...
  • Martin
    That pricing is ridiculous. It is nowhere near high enough. Will there be a quiet section?
  • Mark
    @ Dan Dare 'I bet they quote safety rules about being able to issue commands in an emergency or some other dross. ' How is that dross? If the pilot declares an emergency during take off or landing then it's advantageous to everyone if half the passengers aren't on the phone oblivious to the situation around them. On another note, as someone has said, if you think the service is too expensive then don't use it. It can't have been cheap to upgrade the planes. It'll probably get cheaper over time once the set up costs have been offset.
  • Dave T.
    Will people stop moaning about Ryanair - If you don't want to use them then don't use them you set of big overgrown jessies!!
  • Dan D.
    BACK @ Jim How close does your mobile phone have to be to interfere with your speakers and how close do you sit to the pilot. Why wouldn't this be a problem at 10,000 feet if you were heading towards another plane but is a problem on the ground the laws of physics are the relativley the same at these kinds of altitudes. Really I thought there would be an excuse of trying to get someone off a phone while the plane was on fire but your thoughts are even more daft than that. You will not cause radio interference with a quality pair of haedphones or speakers!!
  • Dan D.
    @ Mark, if there is an emergency I am sure people will get off the phones, the "other dross" was like the comment Jim made earlier. If you can turn on your phone at 10.000 feet and not effect the aircraft there is no reason why you can't have it on at all times during the flight, execpt if you don't turn it off it won;t automatically roam when you turn it back on to the Ryan Air cell...... there are techie reasons to do this but none of them are to do with safety!
  • Kevin
    Considering that most RyanAir flights seem to be fairly short is there really a need for this? Great technologically maybe but I see a much greater desire for internet services on planes rather than phones. Personally I wouldn't have a desire for phone or text on a flight of any length but checking my email or Facebook, Twitter etc would hope some appeal.
  • J.Lat
    I want to share with you a few of the tentative conclusions I've reached regarding Ryanair's prevarications. And I stress the word "tentative," because the subject of what motivates Ryanair is tricky and complex. You may be disappointed to hear that my concrete suggestions on how to take the mechanisms, language, ideology, and phraseology for determining what is right and what is wrong out of the hands of Ryanair and its allies and put them back in the hands of ordinary people are sprinkled throughout this letter like raisins in a pudding, not grouped together in a single block of text at the end. This was a conscious decision I made based on the observation that Ryanair is a hard worker. It works hard to prevent anyone from commenting on its disloyal indiscretions. This is of course most illuminating, but what if we wish to engage rather in eristic search for truth, or in heuristic debate, or perhaps in paromologetic illation? In my experience, when one looks at the increasing influence of defeatism in our culture one sees that Ryanair's signature is on everything. So how come its fingerprints are nowhere to be found? The answer has two parts to it. The first part regards the manner in which Ryanair is hell-bent on suppressing our freedom. The second part of the answer is focused on the the way that Ryanair says that I'm some sort of cully who can be duped into believing that it is froward to question its orations. This is at best wrong. At worst, it is a lie. Because Ryanair is so caught up in trying to pursue a perfidious agenda under the guise of false concern for the environment, poverty, civil rights, or whatever, I'd like to conclude this letter by quoting to it the last line of R. M. Rilke's poem, "Archaic Torso of Apollo": "You must change your life.

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