Currently the leading provider of cheap flights in Europe (ahead of British rival EasyJet), Ryanair has arguably been the main success story of the aviation industry of the past few decades. The company’s growth has prompted rival businesses to start similar operations – with Flybe and BMI Baby both now offering cut-price flights that broadly mimic those of Ryanair.
Michael O’Leary has acted as both CEO and poster boy for the Ryanair brand, and has pioneered the company’s aggressive cost-cutting measures. The saving made on operations are notionally passed on, keeping prices low for customers – something which has been key in their domination of the budget flights market.
Flying with Ryanair has been characterised by an experience that has charitably been described as ‘no-frills’, in which anything above the legally required minimum for flights is billed as an extra. This policy has extended to charging customers more for not checking-in online, additional fees for not using the official Ryanair Credit Card and high prices for on-board food and drink – leading to Holiday Which? Magazine branding the Ryanair as the worst offenders for optional extras.
Despite being renowned for poor customer service and unpleasant travel experiences, it has been suggested that Ryanair are proud of this reputation – in the past, the company have revealed plans for standing-only flights, regardless of the fact that they would be illegal worldwide. Some analysts have noted that such PR stunts and an overall reputation for ruthlessness only enforces public belief of Ryanair being the cheapest carrier in the UK.