Few people enjoy flying these days, with no room for your legs, a small and sticky child in the seat next to you and a talkative mother making up the row. Behind, perhaps you will be rewarded with a loud collection of still-merry drunks and in front, inevitably somebody who has already put their seat back that full three inches before the plane has even taken off.
Flying seems to be an inconvenience that one must endure to top and tail one’s holiday, or visit, or business. At least (if nothing goes wrong at the airport) it has the virtue of being both quick and of course safe.
Of all of the carriers, Ryanair seems to be a particularly uncomfortable choice to experience. No doubt it’s a fiver cheaper, but one must queue in an inelegant shuffle, with hand luggage only – as the charges begin to mount if there’s a suitcase, sit in the flying equivalent of a London underground train – and one now hears of couples being split up by the staff, and carry-on luggage being reduced to a hand-bag.
But well done that Michael O’Leary, who has made himself not only very rich but, as we have seen recently, also highly unpopular.
Ryanair, for a spurious and improbable reason (the staff hadn’t had their hols this year?) has just stopped some two thousand flights across Europe between now and the end of October, putting severe impositions on many thousands of customers. The company has a full list of affected flights here. They say laconically ‘Up to 50 flights a day (less than 2% of flights) have been cancelled for the next six weeks’.
Many of these are connections to Spain.
From the Facua website comes ‘FACUA asks AESA (State Agency for Air Security) to sanction Ryanair for announcing mass cancellations’. The consumer organisation is looking for full compensation for travellers. Ryanair says it has twenty million euros earmarked precisely for passenger compensation.
It appears that the real reason for all this terrible publicity, at least partly, is a sudden haemorrhage of 140 pilots to another discount airline: Norwegian Air.
For the passengers concerned, for their families, their hotels, their brief holiday, their business appointments and their bookings, this really quite ridiculous situation is unacceptable.