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Lustig: "My Ryanair Hell"

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Im englischen Guardian (fuer unsere nicht-anglophilen User - so in etwa die englische SZ) lief in den letzten Wochen ein lustiger Wettbewerb namens "My Ryanair Hell", in dessen Rahmen Leser ihre schockierendsten Ryanair-Erlebnisse einschicken konnten. Veranstaltet hat diesen Wettbewerb der Guardian-Kolumnist Richard Adams, der sich ein Spaesschen daraus macht, Ryanair wechselweise als "the low-care airline", "Eireoflot" und "the world's unfavourite airline" zu bezeichnen. Hier ein paar Auszuege - sehr unterhaltsam icon_wink.gif (und wie heisst es so schoen - don't shoot the messenger....)


"So, on the day Ryanair launched its hilarious "customer charter" we examine the airline's claim to be "the no1 on-time airline". Sadly, press officer Enda O'Toole is not available when we call to ask on what basis Ryanair makes this boast. Plenty of readers have sent in their experiences of flying (and not flying) with Ryanair. So many - such as Fran Kenny, stranded in Gothenburg after her flight was cancelled, and told "come back tomorrow" - that this calls for a new City Diary readers' competition: My Ryanair Hell. The rules are simple: send details of your Ryanair Hell to this column (by email or via 119 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3ER).

The worst case will win first prize: a free return flight for two to a European destination on a low-cost airline. The winning entry will be awarded on a points basis: 5 points for each luggage item lost, 10 points for each delayed flight, and 100 points for any personal abuse from chief executive Michael O'Leary. Entries close next week. Hurry.




A missive arrives on Ryanair letterhead - and it's from Ireland's most charming man, Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of the airline now known as Eireoflot. "Dear Richard," he writes, a little familiarly, "We don't 'claim' to be the No.1 on-time airline". (This is in response to my querying why Ryanair bestowed that title on itself.) "The official statistics of the Civil Aviation Authority confirm that Ryanair is the No.1 on-time airline on Europe's busiest route namely Dublin-London." Thanks for clearing that up Michael (if I may). So let's get that claim straight: when Ryanair claims it's the "No.1 on-time airline," what it really means is that Ryanair is the "No.1 on-time airline between Dublin and London in January to June 2002." Fine.




It's our old friend, the low-care airline Ryanair. An eagle-eyed reader rings to point out that Ryanair's brand new "passenger charter" is somewhat padded out. The charter's first point reads: "Committed to selling lowest fares at all times." Now, spot the difference to Ryanair's "commitment" number 18: "Offer the lowest fares at all times." Of course, both points one and 18 doesn't mean Ryanair will refund the difference if you find a cheaper fare elsewhere. Certainly not."




And so to the results of our "My Ryanair Hell" competition - readers' tales of Eireoflot woe. There were so many top entries that this was a competition where every one was a winner (although, technically, everyone was a loser). Where to begin? There's the novel excuses, with this explanation owing something to British Rail: not the wrong type of snow, but Peter Commins from Pinner (along with his wife, elderly mother and two children) was told "the wrong size of plane" had been sent to Knock. "In fact they'd obviously overbooked but refused to admit it, leaving us with no car in the middle of an Irish bog for twelve hours," fumes Peter.


· Or is it the fine Ryanair service? There's James, who rang and booked a flight to Rhodes. Except that Ryanair don't fly to Rhodes, they fly to Rome and booked him a flight there instead. No refunds of course. "I am fully convinced that Ryanair staff go on 'customer disservice' courses," writes Patrick Spratt. "This is coming from someone who has to deal with Hackney council."


· Then there's the veteran Ryanair planes. "On boarding the Ryanair 737 I found myself on one of the very aircraft I had worked on 20 years before," writes John Lynch, a former charter airline crew member. "Not even the carpet had changed." But worse was to come: "After wedging myself into my seat, I leaned back and promptly disappeared into the lap of the passenger behind as the chair reclined to a horizontal position."


· But the winner - by the distance between Frankfurt and Hahn airport - is Arja Evans. Flying from Dublin to London to attend a wedding the next day, Arja and her husband landed in London. Everything went smoothly, their bags arrived. "But when lifted off they seemed HEAVIER and made a glugging sound," writes Arja. When she and her husband opened their cases, watering came gushing out. "I did my best staying up until 2am with a hairdryer and iron in the hotel trying to get the clothes dry." Complaints to Ryanair for the ruined clothing meet with a flat no: passengers should have waterproof luggage, they were told. Well done Arja, and thanks to all."





Kleine Zugabe - na gut:


"A fax arrives from Ryanair. "Dear Richard," writes Enda O'Toole, "I hope you will allow me to correct a couple of errors in your City Diary." You're not the first to do that, Enda, and presumably you won't be the last. "Ryanair doesn't fly any 30-year-old aircraft; the average age of our fleet is currently 9 years old, our oldest aircraft is 21." Well, there's a new advertising slogan right there! "Ryanair - our planes are old enough to stand for parliament." We'll examine Enda's other claim, that Ryanair is "the No.1 on-time aircraft" tomorrow." (s.o.)



Michael O'Leary, the fast-talking chief executive of Ryanair - an airline dedicated to preserving some of the world's most beautifully aged passenger planes - seems to be a clever man. Which doesn't explain why yesterday he wrote to the London Stock Exchange, to "apply" for membership of the FTSE-100 share index. Dumb move. The LSE does not run the Footsie (that's done by FTSE International, a separate company). But the real barrier is that Ryanair is registered in Ireland, with shares traded on the Dublin stock exchange. To get into the Footsie, it would have to register in London ... and why doesn't it do that? Is it because Ryanair would then be subject to more stringent rules by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, rather than its Irish counterpart?


· On the subject of Ryanair, I'd ask readers to please stop sending in their tales of cancelled flights and harsh treatment. If you want to fly on 30-year-old planes with no guarantee when, or even if, they will take off, then good luck. To quote Mr O'Leary: "Are we going to say sorry for our lack of customer service? Absolutely not. If a plane is delayed, will we give you a voucher for a restaurant? Absolutely not."

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