Friday, February 27, 2009

A £ to Spend a Penny on Ryanair

Michael Gerard Joseph Mary O'Leary gave a stellar performance on the BBC this morning defending Ryanair's decision to get rid of their airport check in facilities and charge people £10 for hold baggage. Under attack from the BBC presenters who suggested it was iniquitous to charge this he managed to attack BAA, BA, all of his competitors, governments and possibly the only one not to get a mention was Barack Obama who is still too early in his presidency to have upset Mr. O'Leary.

The fact is he's right. Their business model is their business model. No one is forcing anyone to fly Ryanair and most airlines are jealous of his ability to get free PR and continue to make money. The fact is that Mr. O'Leary is a master at the smash and grab and so far so good. There's always arguments that say he may have got some of it wrong, but hey as long as it keeps working what the heck. Interestingly there's no sign of his promised standing down from Ryanair. They probably cannot afford him to go.

His other nugget this morning was to suggest spending a £ to spend a penny on Ryanair. They have and are considering charging passengers to use the toilet.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What's In Your Pants?

The variety of ruses used by would-be smugglers is quite amazing. We've chronicled a few in the past, but a 23 year old man added a new one when he was rumbled in Melborne airport a couple of weeks ago. We're not sure how the customs officers spotted him (the bulging calves? the coo-ing noises coming from his trousers?) but when they took him to one side they found he was wearing a pair of tights stuffed with two pigeons. The birds had survived the ten hour flight from Dubai unharmed. The real mystery is...why? The birds were not a rare breed and the man didn't give any clear answer when asked what he was planning to do with them. We think the other aspect of the story, looking at those hairy legs, was possibly that he was also smuggling a gorilla, and the birds were a decoy? We'll leave it to you to decide...

Pressing the Call Button

Our favourite source of quotes has been at it again. Michael O'Leary, the wonderfully direct head of Ryanair, launched the carrier's first flight on which mobile phone use is permitted this week. He did so with his customary elan and willingness to get to the heart of the matter. Dressed for the occasion as an enormous mobile phone (how many captains of industry would be similarly game?) he noted:

"Anyone who thinks Ryanair flights are some sort of sanctuary where you can contemplate your navel is wrong."

Not that many travellers on their service will have left with the impression that they had been on some sort of retreat, we suspect, but full marks to the lad for not taking things too seriously.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Runway Hotel

Fed up with the usual airport hotels offering at best adequate comfort and service? Keen to avoid the 20 minute taxi ride to the airport for the first morning flight when the hotel appeared to be right beside the terminal? Those cunning Swedes have come up with the solution. Book into the Jumbo Hostel in Stockholm and you're sure to have only a short hop to the terminal, and you'll already be in the aviation mood.

At the end of the runway of Arlanda Airport (Stockholm's busiest) is an ex-Pan Am Boeing 747 which has been refurbished and converted into a hotel. Redolent of the glamorous heyday of flight, it's a monument to kitsch. The staff wear retro airline outfits, there's tinkling music in the top deck bar and you can even saunter out onto the wings with your coffee. Apparently the rooms aren't as cramped as you'd expect, which range from dormitory style beds (£29) to triples (£112) to the cockpit double with all cockpit controls (deactivated!) and en-suite for £275. Check out if you're ready for takeoff.

Russian To The Bar

It seems that the idea of a pilot being too drunk to fly the plane has been over stated. While the passenger's natural impulse if they were to hear a slurred pre-flight announcement by the Captain might be to run for the exits, we should be reassured - it'll all be fine. That's exactly what happened on December 28 2008 as an Aeroflot aircraft prepared to leave Moscow's Sheremetevo airport. The pilot got on the intercom and was clearly inebriated, however the airline confirmed that it was "no big deal".

When the passengers demanded that the New York bound Boeing 767 be flown by someone other than Captain Alexander Cheplevsky the crew told them to "stop making trouble" or get off the aircraft. This failed to placate the passengers and Aeroflot officials came aboard the aircraft. One calmed their nerves by saying "It's not such a big deal if the pilot is drunk. Really, all he has to do is press a button and the plane flies itself."

Despite this observation a new crew was found and after a few hours wait the flight left. Later on an Aeroflot spokesman noted that "The pilot was tested for alcohol and none was found." So that's OK then. But if he had been drunk then that would be fine too. Right?