Thursday, 22 October 2009

Ryanair Greed and Other Airport Annoyances

I've had a few days away with four girlfriends - I don't have time to write about that yet, suffice it to say, we had a fun time - but our experiences at Palma airport, Majorca. I do have time for.

We arrived at the airport in plenty of time after a 90 minute bus ride, went to the loo - which is always a must on arriving anywhere - even if it’s only a 10 minute journey.

We went through airport security, you know how it goes - shove your hand luggage onto the conveyor then a tray with your coat, bag etc. I made several attempts at this but the three Germans in front of me had to keep getting more trays for their belts and shoes as things were bleeping.

I waited patiently until they were through, shoved my stuff and walked through - I never bleep, a short record I'm proud of - got to the other end to collect my stuff and refill my pockets with bleepables when this woman in uniform marched up to me:-

‘You take trays over there, not leave them here, is your job!’

Now I'm a nice person, very obliging. If she'd said ‘Excuse me please, will you take these trays to the pile over there when you go?’ I'd have stayed and collected the next half dozen for her.

I do NOT respond well to orders, especially when I'm not at fault so I picked my tray up [as I'd always intended to] and told her that I'd take my tray and only mine and she could stick the rest where she wanted!

We had a look around the duty free shop, made a few vital purchases. Had a cup of something - well - it was wet, we all remarked that we couldn't wait for a proper cup of tea when we got home and decided that it was now time to be on our way.

We sauntered along the moving walkways - not really advisable if you're like me because I tend to look around and not concentrate on the job in hand - which nearly resulted in me landing on my a**e, but far, far worse than that, breaking my precious and almost wildly expensive litre bottle of Southern Comfort [yum, yum, yum].

Luckily no-one spotted my near-accident as my feet skidded to a stop and I lurched to the next moving bit so my dignity and Southern Comfort were safe - for now.

My crumbly friend and I had paid for priority boarding - a complete waste of time when we left East Midlands Airport as there were only 30 passengers on board, meaning we all had a row of seats each and our cheap friends had a giggle at our expense - but it did prove to be very useful coming back as the flight was nearly full.

Uh-oh, the little Nazi-type woman was moving the hand-baggage measure doo-dah next to the desk, if she wants me to put my case in there which has expanded alarmingly while I've been away due to a couple of purchases then I'm stuffed:-

‘PRIORITY!’ she shouted.
All the smug looking priority ticket holders swarmed forward [that includes me in case you’re not keeping up] - My turn came.

‘You, take case there, put bag in, only one bag allowed’
‘But it's duty free.’
‘No, no, one bag only, is the rules’

By now I was getting fairly ticked of by bolshy little upstarts but I resolved not to be beaten. My friend was panicking, I told her to get on the plane, that I was OK. I opened my case, took out my fleece and put my precious Southern Comfort in. Zipped the case back up, took my coat off, put the fleece on and the coat back on top and presented myself to SeƱora Hitler.

‘OK, you go now.’
I was MELTING in the heat!! but felt that I'd won a small if sweaty victory, if she hadn't let me on at this point, I was prepared to wear every item of clothing in my case.

Meanwhile, I noticed that some of the others who had witnessed my ‘repacking’ were trying to get their duty free into their cases and one man just handed his bag over and told 'Adolfa' to keep it.

Oh dear, I knew our non-priority friends had made duty free purchases too, but I couldn't see them to warn them what was in store as there were so many people waiting to board the plane.

Needless to say, when their turn came they tried to share things out between the bags but it was hopeless. One of them had to pay 35 Euros to have her luggage put in the hold and she carried the duty free onboard.

I've read recently - of course too late - that the staff are paid a percentage as an incentive to get luggage declared as oversized. This may be a rumour but who knows?

I'm a bit annoyed with myself though, as I usually check and double check everything. I'd made sure of the size of re-sealable plastic bag we needed for our liquids [20x20cm - 100ml each item] etc to get through security. The maximum bag size and weight [55x40x20cm - 10Kg] that Ryanair allowed. I had repeated nightmares that I'd forget to check-in online - which we'd had to pay £5 for the privilege even though there's no choice.

I had also read that Ryanair were thinking of charging £1 for us to use the loo but decided against it - for now - this was a shrewd move on their part as I can't see anyone wanting to pay £3 for a cup of coffee then another £1 to recycle it and give it them back.

Will I fly with Ryanair again?

The simple answer is yes, they are still cheap and if you're a bit uneasy in a crowd or you simply want to get on first and pick your seat it is worth paying for priority boarding.

It's up to me to make sure I'm up to date with their latest money-making ideas, and to keep one step well ahead ...

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Be nice, I'm very sensitive.