After years of speculation, Ireland’s buffoonish low-cost carrier Ryanair has been given the green light, by its own board, to begin transatlantic service. One-way fares, by report, will begin at an absurdly low £10 (around $14 right now), with base $99 one-ways likely filling out the rest of the cabin. More expensive, heftier premium-class seating will apparently balance out budgets. A £10 flight to Europe would be completely bananas, even by WOW Air standards.
Unfortunately, we’re still at least four or five years out, per the BBC, so don’t get too excited just yet. Flying cars may literally hit the market before this latest Ryanair revolution. More importantly, it’s a Ryanair revolution, and anyone who’s stuffed him-or-herself into one of Michael O’Leary’s jets before knows that Ryanair expectations are better held way, way in check. The budget carrier may be phasing out the highlighter yellow aesthetic, but we know its true colors, and they ain’t pretty.
From that sardonic corner, we lay out here five things Americans can look forward to once Ryanair arrives stateside:
In Europe, auxiliary airports are famously part of the Ryanair experience. Politics and logistical limitations play a part, but the cheaper slots available at Stansted in London and Beauvais-Tillé in Paris fit precisely into the low-cost model that churns out the iconic cheap fairs. You get those cheaper fares, but you also might have to take a comically long bus ride to get to your actual destination. I once flew Ryanair from London (Stansted) to Vienna, which my ticket confirmed. Of course, the Ryanair airport in Vienna was actually in Bratislava…Slovakia, which — yes — is in an entirely different country. That’s kind of like booking a flight into Boston and arriving in Montreal.
More inflammatory quotes
CEO O’Leary has carved out an impressive name for himself as aviation’s “daftest” soundboard. The stances he takes are sharp, bewildering and calculated – but never uninspired. Those currently living inside the Ryanair service map are more grounded (sometimes literally) for it. Policy decisions and cost-cutting measures are more charged, and with Ryanair coming to the U.S., the airline will have a new theater and audience for the likes of its “fat tax” act.
Ryanair’s boarding procedure asks that you pay to preselect a seat or simply elbow your way through the masses when the time comes to board. It’s first-come, first-served, and it incites grade-school-level vitriol on two-hour hops from London to Berlin. What people will be willing to do when the prize is a bulkhead seat on a 9-hour Chicago-London flight, we can’t imagine.
More packing confusion
Fishing vest, fedora, cargo pants – you just never have room to pack it all, and Ryanair’s ludicrous baggage fees are only going to make things worse. By current policy, each piece of luggage you dare check with Ryanair costs you £/€15-£/€45, with a maximum weight of 15-20 kg (roughly 33-55 lbs). Every kg you run over your allotted mass will cost you an extra £/€10. Sweet merciful O’Leary will presumably have to knock down the walls to his luggage prison to avoid a full-scale travel mutiny, but you can count on fees and restrictions of some strict capacity to stress you out or take your money whenever you take your first flight.
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In the early runs of the service, there will be many kinks to work out, and with those kinks will come dissatisfaction, disappointment and anger. That much will be natural. But then, Ryanair’sabhorrently reviewed customer service will be tasked with working things out, and that should not go well. This is a group that charges by the minute for phone-based customer service inquiries and whose CEO is on record beside this bomb: “People say the customer is always right, but you know what – they’re not. Sometimes they are wrong and they need to be told so.”