Ryanair’s concern for passengers

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Ryanair flies awayI’m still recovering from Michael O’Leary’s – the boss of Ryanair -comments last week. Having lain down in a darkened room for a day or two, I feel ready to respond.

The Daily Express headline was “Ryanair boss vows to treat customers nicer” and in the Daily Mail, it was” Is Ryanair FINALLY learning its lesson?” Even in Las Vegas, they ran this story despite the fact that Ryanair doesn’t fly within 3,000 miles of the city. What’s the cause of this about turn at Ryanair?

At Ryanair’s annual general meeting last Friday, O’Leary announced that profits will decline. Shareholders put it to the ebullient CEO that it might be down to the airline’s customer satisfaction policy ie the unwritten one that says we don’t care a toss about passengers. He responded by saying that the airline must improve how it treats passengers and handles complaints.

In the Financial Times, their coverage had no mention of customer service. They reported that O’Leary had “scoffed this week at the suggestion from some journalists that the budget airline’s latest profit warning demonstrated that its business model was broken.” That reads more like the O’Leary we have come to know and…!

My first thought was that he had been misquoted but no, just about every national newspaper and television said much the same thing. In typical O’Leary language he seems to have said, “We should try to eliminate things that unnecessarily **** people off.” Not only that but he seems to have admitted that the culture within the company may be due to him. He also is reported to have said that he was irritated some staff fined customers when carry-on baggage was slightly oversize.

Is this real the same man we have come to know so well for his attitude to passengers; the same man who seems to have a lifetime zeal to relieve us of every penny he can?

The London free business newspaper, City AM, went to work to see if a softer customer satisfaction approach may work and concluded the airline had a long way to go but that it could be done.

But this is a start. Nit-picking about the odd ounce in cabin or hold baggage will help. Removing from October 30th the need to enter a hazy word that pops up on the screen before you can progress with your booking will make life a bit easier. The extra step will only be for those that are big users of the booking system which should still stop automated searches. There is also a Twitter feed where passengers “can keep up to date with the latest Ryanair news, route developments and special offers.” That sounds like another advertising vehicle but at least passengers will be able to use it to contact Ryanair.

Is this really the start of a new era or am I just hiding behind rose-tinted glasses?

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