#1 By: Cory Doctorow, October 27th, 2013 10:38
#2 By: Mindy Clegg, October 27th, 2013 10:53
And then they wonder why Kevin Smith didn't fit! They shrink the sizes of the seats and fat shame anyone who is wider than a rail. WTF?
#3 By: Salgak, October 27th, 2013 11:00
Could be worse: ever hear of the STANDING passenger arrangement ??
RyanAir in Britain was actually considering it. . .
The term jet-setter is still applied to travelers heading to chic, exciting places. But by now, after years of enduring countless fees, painfully long airport waits and humiliation by way of clothing removal and body scans, travelers should know that the era when flying equated to glamour is long gone.
But if you’re not thoroughly disillusioned with the modern-day flying experience, Michael O’Leary, the blunt-speaking CEO of cheapo European carrier Ryanair, would like to have a word. O’Leary is known for saying and doing outrageous things — calling his customers “idiots,” for instance, and considering the introduction of pay toilets on planes and in-flight porn as moneymakers for the airline.
(MORE: While Airlines Add More Fees, One Travel Freebie Becomes Standard)
He is also known for speaking the truth boldly, sometimes harshly, in situations when prudent businessmen would hold their tongues. O’Leary’s latest truth-telling is quoted in the Telegraph:
“The problem with aviation is that for 50 years it’s been populated by people who think it’s this wondrous sexual experience; that it’s like James Bond and wonderful and we’ll all be flying first class when really it’s just a bloody bus with wings.
“Most people just want to get from A to B. You don’t want to pay £500 for a flight.
“You want to spend that money on a nice hotel, apartment or restaurant … You don’t want to piss it all away at the airport or on the airline.”
Here’s one more thing that you probably never expected an airline executive to say:
“If there ever was a crash on an aircraft, God forbid, a seatbelt won’t save you.”
(MORE: Why an Airline That Travelers Love Is Failing)
Because O’Leary believes “seatbelts don’t matter,” and because airline passengers seem to be proving O’Leary’s point by choosing the cheapest form of transportation possible regardless of service or comfort, Ryanair is currently trying to launch a standing-room-only section on its airplanes, where fares on short-haul flights within Europe would start at £1, around $1.50.
Does this idea have, well, a leg to stand on? O’Leary certainly thinks so, guaranteeing that cheap standing-room-only tickets would sell out long before seats that cost, say, $40 on the same plane.
He may be right. At the same time, travelers should know that it’s impossible to actually pay £1 and get anywhere with Ryanair. In early November, reported the Guardian, the airline announced that as of Dec. 1, all passengers must pay a £6 ($9.50) administrative fee on each one-way ticket purchase. In the past, customers could avoid the fee by using a Ryanair-affiliated credit card.
That’s hardly the only fee Ryanair passengers are likely to encounter. If you don’t print out your boarding pass before arriving at the airport, you can expect to pay as much as $75. It was the complaint of an angry mom who was forced to pay five such fees for her family of five that prompted O’Leary’s “idiots” comment. More likely, Ryanair customers will be confronted with any number of mysterious baggage charges — for checked luggage, certainly, and also for carry-on luggage and perhaps what’s known as hand luggage.
Ryanair allows one piece of hand luggage (purse, laptop bag, small backpack) per passenger. And what happens if you go over the allowance? One woman in Spain recently found out. After boarding a Ryanair flight with a book and a scroll that didn’t fit in her bag, the woman was escorted off the plane by police when she couldn’t pay the airline’s fee, reportedly because her credit card was not working. Glamorous jet-setting this is not.
(MORE: Quirky Marketing: Airline CEO Calls His Customers ‘Idiots’)
In a video of the incident, passengers are heard yelling “Shameful, shameful” over and over, and groups are calling for a boycott of the airline. (Perhaps, if O’Leary were on board at the time, he might have tried to counter by starting up an “Idiot, idiot” chant.)
Will anyone really stand up to O’Leary? Or will many of us soon be standing on airplanes? Thus far, Ryanair’s fee-crazed business model has proved to be wildly profitable, and the truth of the matter is that the airline would be failing if consumers didn’t like what it was selling.
#4 By: Mindy Clegg, October 27th, 2013 11:03
Ugh... why? I mean, how can they even do that? Even with straps, it still seems dangerous, even for short trips.
#5 By: TheMetalPedant, October 27th, 2013 11:13
They can do that because we have no other choice. Sure, we have a "choice" in airlines, but I can't remember the last time I had more than one legitimate choice for any given flight unless I was willing to fly not at all close to the times I needed to and/or was willing to pay a lot more and/or was willing to drive a significant distance to another airport, and I live in an urban area. My parents live near Pittsburgh, and that airport has a fraction of the flights available that it had not that long ago because of various contract disputes with airlines and other tomfoolery. It will be even more of a moot point if multiple airlines all order their planes with sardine torture seats.
#6 By: Dustin Ambler, October 27th, 2013 11:17
I just flew to Africa and back and had an aisle seat. Every time the stewards and stewardess' walked through with a cart, they'd strike my shoulder. I'm 6', 180 lb. My shoulders measure about 20 inches. I don't know how anybody larger than I would be able to cope.
#7 By: Mindy Clegg, October 27th, 2013 11:20
That's true, but doesn't make it better. I mean the alternative is planes, trains, and automobiles, right.
#8 By: lecti, October 27th, 2013 11:26
I hate to be a jerk, but if this discourages people from traveling for leisure, the better it is for the conservation of finite resources. Burning fuel to ship live meat from places to places so it can experience things is overrated
#9 By: Israel B, October 27th, 2013 11:28
Actual quote from the article:
"With food and TV," said Mr. Clark at Emirates, "people are mesmerized."
Considering that this is Emirates it probably won't apply to me but there is pretty much nothing mesmerizing about the kosher meals on long haul international flights. Since I live in Tokyo, thats all flights I ever take.
#10 By: Ignatius, October 27th, 2013 11:29
Indeed. The only thing worse for even moderately tall people is getting a window seat on a smaller plane on a flight longer than 45 minutes.
#11 By: Sam Wormleighton, October 27th, 2013 11:37
I am the reason this is happening. I fly fairly frequently and I select purely and only based on price. I don't care if the food is terrible. I don't care if the seats are tired, worn and too small. I don't care about anything except safety (airlines operating in modern democracies are more or less equal here) and price.
Seriously. I'd squat at the back in the galley if they offered a cheaper ticket. Have you guys ever been on a bus in a developing country? Western airlines are incredibly comfortable, utter luxury. I just want the cheapest deal they have (seat + 1 carry bag + 20kg hold bag) and to hell with the rest. By shopping on price I go on trips I wouldn't have otherwise been able to take. And 8 hours of my knees by my ears? So what. If I save $100 that's fine by me. Being in mild discomfort for 8 hours is nothing. I'd sit on a spike for 8 hours if the flight was cheap enough!
#12 By: Ignatius, October 27th, 2013 11:38
The problem with your line of thinking is that it has a disproportionate effect on those who aren't super wealthy. Rich people can afford to get the higher quality food that makes them skinnier and the first class seating which makes it so they don't have to be skinnier. Poorer people--who often can't afford to fly but may have to anyway in cases of family emergencies--end up footing the entire consequence of your desire for conservation.
It also does nothing to solve the problem: how to travel efficiently without having a huge drain on the environment. "Just don't travel!"?
#13 By: IMB, October 27th, 2013 11:41
#14 By: Phasma Felis, October 27th, 2013 11:41
No, you don't.
Ignatius pretty much summarized the rest of my argument.
#15 By: Phasma Felis, October 27th, 2013 11:44
Why aren't there any airlines trying to compete on comfort at competitive prices?
#16 By: Jason Andresen, October 27th, 2013 11:50
Like JetBlue or British Airways?
#17 By: daneel, October 27th, 2013 11:52
Generally being a short-ass isn't a good thing, but at least I can fit in airplane seats.
On the mention of Ryanair by @salgak, I'd generally ignore anything Michael O'Leary says, he's always suggesting ludicrous things to get his airline in the news, where he can talk up his cheap prices.
However, how about these?
But these are more for me.
#18 By: StewartTongue, October 27th, 2013 11:55
If people fly less, seats get wider... If they fly more or the same amount the seats get smaller. It's pretty simple economics. If you font like it, don't give them your money. They will be replaced by companies you do give money.
Talk less... Do more.
#19 By: Rindan, October 27th, 2013 12:10
Eh. I have no rage. This is a "problem" of our own making. People don't select on anything other than price. Sure, you might pick one airline over another if the price difference is minimal, but for the most part, people are not willing to pay more for more room. Hell, most of these airlines will let you drop an extra $40 for a slightly nicer coach seat and I bet you rarely take them up on the offer.
Airlines are a boom and bust industry with relatively thin margins and vicious competition over price (when government is doing its job and keeping them from monopolying up). They are not gouging you. They are not cramming you in to be mean. They are doing everything in their power to make that price tag you see when you search for a flight on your travel website of choice as small as humanly possible because you WILL decide based upon that price. They can either sacrifice a few inches of room on the alter of the price gods or be die. The solution is simple; pay more for better seats on better airlines. I am pretty sure that the airlines would vastly prefer to ship fewer people at a higher cost then have to deal with the headache of using a cattle prod shove Americans into a seat that is the width of a single ass cheek.
#20 By: Miramon, October 27th, 2013 12:12
The rule is not to fly coach. If you have to fly coach, then take the train instead. The bus. Drive. Decide that you didn't need to go there after all. The bigger the airline, the worse they are, especially the American carriers (but there are plenty of malicious and stupid foreign carriers as well). These companies' managements are scum who deserve to fail; the only shame is what will happen to the workers when they do. American. United/Continental. Delta/Northwest. It's a race to the bottom, and you shouldn't fly any of them if you can avoid it.
next page →