Budget Airlines; cheap but not always cheerful!

There’s no doubt that ‘no thrills’ airlines, such as Easyjet and Ryanair, have contributed to the increasing popularity of air travel. With prices starting from just a penny per leg, millions click and charge their way  to exotic locations every year. I mean so what if the flight cost 1p without and £30 with taxes, Bristol beckons! 

After all, it’s much cheaper than flying British Midland. And so what if it sometimes costs in excess of £100 for a mere name change on a seat you’ve already paid for, it’s still cheaper than British Airways. Isn’t it? The answer is yes, if you stick to the schedule that it.

But should paying less for your flight equal less common courtesies?

A friend of mine once bought a so called  1p flight with Ryanair to Newquay, Cornwall. It wasn’t a special occasion, he just fancied a day trip and whilst he ended up paying much more than 1 pence each way, it was still cheaper  and  quicker than going by car. However, for reasons I won’t bore you with and like hundreds every year, he was held up at security which resulted in him being THREE minutes late to his gate where he was met by a poe faced Barby who took one glance at his breathless, anxious demeanour and, with a shake of the head, told him “Sorry, flight’s closed,” she then proceeded to pull the chain of the cattle pen shut and went about her business. There was no discussion, that was it. Of course, like many before him, he was ready to plead his case had the terminator afforded him the time but he knew it would have been pointless since his experience is in no way unique and somewhat endemic in the budget airline community.

One of the reasons for the notorious “If you’re late, we won’t wait” motto is the fact that, unlike us mere mortals who fill up their tanks and go, aeroplane captains are required to perform a headcount  prior to departure and then a series of complex calculations which tell them how much fuel (and a bit) they need to get to their destination. Less fuel reduces the overall weight of the craft and in turn saves money. Once the captain has completed his arithmetic for the day he is seldom inclined to repeat the experience.  But whilst I can understand this commercially oriented mentality, I cannot understand the existence of the over inflated egos of the staff who clearly subscribe to the unofficial understanding that if you buy a cheap ticket then you should get, ‘cheap service’. Manners cost nothing, and occasionally, a bit of compassion wouldn’t  go amiss either,even if there isn’t much you can do about it because ‘it’s company policy’. Stop for a second to  consider that for you it’s just another day at the office by for the person travelling it could be the event of a lifetime.

If staff at EasyJet and Ryanair are unable to achieve a sense of job satisfaction in their present occupation then they should take this up with their managers or seek alternate employment not take their frustration out on us travellers who, albeit for our selfish reasons, are paying their wages.

That said  I‘ve vowed not to do so (promise), I’d much rather stay home if I can’t afford to travel but when I do, it will be with a reputable airline whom I know that for a few more pennies is going to feed me a pre-packaged meal with a welcome sprinkling of patronisation. As for the ‘ job’s worths’ out there: If you, like many, are not lucky enough to say that you love your job and are feeling somewhat unfulfilled then perhaps you should take whatever skills you may possess and apply them to a profession where they would be much more appreciated, say, in the cattle ranching or sadism industries. But then, I wouldn’t want to be presumptuous, perhaps you’d be kind enough to extend the travelling public the same courtesy.

 If you’ve been the victim of bad customer service, whether that be with a budget airline or anybody else, share your story with others.  Leave a comment below.

This article was originally published in issue 1 of a Different Angle. Ryanair no longer flies to Newquay.

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