RyanAir: Flying Customers For Free

Ireland’s premier discount airline Ryanair envisions a time in the next ten years when all of its customers fly for free. That may seem ludicrous, but Ryanair is already a quarter of the way there: 25% of its current customers fly for free.

The way they do it is by charging for everything else except airfare. Peanuts? A coke? A pillow and a blanket? Checking-in luggage? It’ll all cost you. The shells of their jets are offered to corporate sponsors as large, flying billboards. They eliminated the magazine pocket on the back of the seat in front of you, lightening their planes and lowering fuel costs, yet opening up space for advertisers. Not only that, but they envision in the future charging their customers to use their cellphones miles in the air, and are looking into turning their jets into flying casinos.

It sounds pretty nightmarish, but it’s actually a great model. Living in Ireland, you’re basically a sucker not to fly Ryanair when you can. You can buy a ticket to almost any destination in Europe for only a euro or two. Sure, it’s the equivalent of a flying subway car — not the most luxurious way to travel — but it works excellently for flights between European destinations. I wouldn’t fly to America with them, but this could be the way forward for cash-strapped and beleaguered American airlines in the coming years. Which wouldn’t be a bad thing for consumers, as long as the choice to fly posh was still available.

A radical fix for airlines: Make flying free [CNN Money]


Edit Your Comment

  1. limiter says:

    Ah, but the catch is if you fly, say from London, with your luggage to Ireland they let you go for a minimal luggage over-weight fee, like 5 Euro, but on the return trip, when they know you are stuck if you don’t go back, you put your luggage up on the scale and all of a sudden you find it’s 20 pounds overweight and you owe 150 Euro to fly back with it.

    The best part is people frantically dump weight into the garbage to try and reduce the cost, but Ryanair people only let you weigh stuff like 3 times (despite the fact you do all the lifting and checking of the scale).

    So yeah, 2 Euro to fly to Ireland, but 50-100 Euro to fly back minus some of your heavier souvenirs. Basically take as little as possible with you if you plan to have a round trip flight on Ryanair.

  2. gunnk says:

    As an added bonus, with RyanAir you never know where you’re really going until you get there:


  3. Ben says:

    It’s like an Extreme Southwest Airlines!

    Sounds cool, but then I don’t fly all that much.

  4. Clare says:

    If everything’s all weight-based, do they charge extra if you’re fat?

  5. Kos says:

    I flew RyanAir from Glasgow to Dublin a couple of years ago for the equivalent of $25, but I had to pay an extra $30 for my overweight bag (curse you heavy waterproof hiking boots). You know, $50 for an hour flight and was drinking in Temple Bar by 10PM… so worth it.

    They’re no frills, so what? You bring a bottle of water and some snacks, put on the ipod and watch some videos. Sounds like my subway commute or a long ride on the A train out to Coney Island.

  6. Juancho says:

    I’ve been hearing how legendarily…um…dirty is not quite the proper word, I guess…

    What I’m asking is, is RyanAir flight basically an airplane-shaped urinal or what?

  7. Harrycichy says:

    Ryanair Free Flights are they really ‘Free’? Cheap yes, free no. 5 Million free seats Ryanair says just pay for the suppliements. This is a clear breach of the Advertising Standards Authority, CAP Code. Free flyers may have the right to refunds of suppliements charged by Ryanair. Complaints should be registered with the ASA. Over to you Michael O’Leary at Ryanair.