I’ve had some bad experiences with Ryanair. Make that bad and costly. Often low cost air-travel feels like the privilege of the very organised because I have yet to score a return flight to Berlin for a penny, or get in and out of Ireland on a bank holiday weekend for less than a hundred quid.
I’ve long been in that bleating queue of detractors, beating down the name of Ryanair while making a private commitment to never flying no-frills again, after incurring some additional charge.
It’s a promise I’ve broken many times.
My road to Damascus spectacular arrived last August when travelling home for a friend’s wedding. Typically, I left it until the night before to check in online and print off my tickets. Typically, there’s always a hitch when you do that when flying Ryanair.
This time the outward leg from Gatwick to Dublin wouldn’t print. A million mouse button clicks wouldn’t send paper through the feeder tray.
The next morning I arrived at the check-in desk in militant mood, demanding to know what, and making it clear how, I wouldn’t accept any additional charges to my existing flight.
The attendant smiled and told me that wouldn’t be necessary because my flight had left the previous day and I was going to have to buy a new one if I wanted to make ‘these very important appointments.’
It was like Johnny Cash said in A Boy named Sue… What could I do? It had to be flight not fight, the former had been knocked out of me, replaced only by embarrassed silence.
I coyly handed over my credit card debited for £252.46…one way to Dublin please.
That was the moment I realised that the problem wasn’t Ryanair but my expectation of cheap air-travel on my terms, encompassing a cavalier approach, over-packed hand luggage; sometimes the required ticket printed from some non-descript internet café, sometimes no printed ticket at all.
Such behaviour is the legacy of growing up with cheap air travel because my experience of living abroad has been marked by flights that cross the Irish Sea more regularly than the weekday bus crosses Rathcoole from Naas into Dublin.
I know that air travel, like flying both ways for less than 100 notes, is a privilege I would no longer consider running down. How could I knock a service that can get me in and out of Ireland any day I want if I’m organised, and on the same day when I’m not?
I’m not forgetting Aer Lingus either, but if it wasn’t for Michael O’Leary, they wouldn’t have been forced to be competitive and we’d all be flying home less on tickets priced somewhere around that magic number 252.46!
I guess that’s why I fail to understand the logic behind the ill-will directed a Ryanair but then the carrier has become a victim of the culture it has created which means the service is utilised lots of unrealistic-take-it-for-granted-types like I used to be. If you end up paying extra money, it’s because you’re not organised or you’re trying to bend the rules.
Me, I’ll continue to try and scam my bag on as hand luggage for free, and if I’m caught I’ll pay the penalty because I ticked the Terms and Conditions box enough times to know it should be less than 10kgs.
I don’t think even the most disorderly disorganised can deny that this service has helped take the isolation out of emigration.
That’s something which comes at a very reasonable price I’m growing happier to pay.