Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary obviously got out of the right side of bed this morning - as the airline has announced as series of fee cuts and customer service improvements.
Following on from a customer feedback page on their website, Tell MOL, which urged travellers to give their opinions and suggestions on Ryanair's service, the airline has now acted upon them and has come up with a number of changes, including reducing fees when you forget to print out your boarding pass, as well as allowing for an extra little carry-on bag.
And, over the next six months to the end of March 2014, the airline will introduce the following (gasp) customer service improvements:
1. The "Recaptcha" security code will be removed from the Ryanair.com website for individual bookings next week.
2. That awful moment you realise you've booked the wrong date? From 1 November, customers who book directly on the Ryanair.com website (ie. not via travel agents or screenscrapers) will be given a 24 hour grace period from the time of their original booking, to correct any minor errors (i.e. spelling, names, routings) made in their original booking.
3. Fancy a nap? From 1 November, Ryanair will operate "quiet flights", prior to 8am in the mornings and after 9pm in the evenings. During these quiet flight periods no PA's will be made on board other than required safety announcements. Ryanair will also dim the lights during these quiet flights so that any customers who wish to snooze, can comfortably do so.
4. You now won't be charged for that cheeky bottle of whiskey you bought in duty-free... From 1 December, Ryanair will allow passengers to bring a second small carry-on bag (small ladies handbag or small airport shopping bag) no bigger than 35 x 20 x 20 cms which will allow a bottle of wine or equivalent to be carried.
5. Arriving at the airport and realising you forgot to print off you boarding pass will not be quite so horrendous. From 1 December, Ryanair's boarding card reissue fee will be cut from €70/£70 to €15/£15 for customers who have already checked in online. Customers who fail to check-in online will continue to pay a €70 airport check-in fee.
6. Finally, from 5 January, Ryanair's standard airport bag fees will be cut from €60/£60 to €30/£30 at the bag drop desk, and from €60/£60 to €50/£50 at the boarding gate, bringing them into line with competitor airline standard airport bag fees.
Ryanair's Michael O'Leary said: "We are very excited at these significant improvements. We are actively listening and responding to our customers so that they can continue to expect low fares and on-time flights on Ryanair, but will now enjoy easier website access, 24 hour grace periods, a second small carry-on bag, reduced airport bag fees and quiet flights. We hope that our passengers will enjoy these service improvements."
And, wait for it, there's more. Ryanair's Director of Customer Service, Caroline Green said: "These are the first in a series of customer service improvements which Ryanair is actively working on to make our low fare services easier to access and more even enjoyable.
"As some of these policy changes will require website changes and handling staff retraining, we will be rolling them out over the next few months. If customers have any other suggestions or feedback they want us to hear, then please use our customer feedback service "Tell MOL" on the Ryanair.com website."
Breaking news! Ryanair CUTS fees and charges in customer service shake-up
Reviews on AirlineQuality.com included this scathing comment: ‘Incredibly uncomfortable seats, poor food, rude staff who just wanted to get the meal service out of the way so they could stand at the rear of the plane and chat amongst themselves.’ Hopefully, the merger with British Airways will mean there's a hope for a rise in standards.
These less-than-glowing reviews on AirlineQuality.com say it all: ‘…nothing could be as bad as EgyptAir. Dirty aircraft with disinterested crew. The toilets were filthy, food looked like leftovers from other airlines. The seating is exceptionally cramped and uncomfortable’ and ‘I find the staff on EgyptAir lazy and unprofessional.’ And apparently the seats aren’t cheap either!
Old planes and unexplained flight delays were among the common complaints about this Chinese airline. Customers alternately complained that flight attendants don’t speak English (although some praising the communication skills). Other comments included criticism of the poor quality of the food and service.
Oh dear, customers are not happy with their experience of this airline or its website. Shabby planes, flights being delayed, rescheduled or rerouted without notice or explanation. And the airline got the lowest score for its food. Altogether a big thumbs down from reviewers.
Chinese air travel isn’t coming off well according to Zagat findings. Customer comments on AirQuality.com on this airline’s service included: ‘…poor food, warm drinks, inadequate English language skills of crew (including nonsensical inflight announcements), non-reclining seats… All in all, quite an unpleasant series of flights’ and ‘Be careful to check and re-check your booking, as flight times can (and did) change without notice. You can miss your flight very easily.’
Described by one reviewer as ‘the airline from hell’, you’d be forgiven for giving it a wide berth unless it ups its game considerably! Reviews included: ‘First, the airline could not fine my reservation… then they determined that "someone" had canceled it in spite of my confirming it on their website’; ‘The worst thing was the attitude of US airways staff and the lies they told us. I wouldn't touch them again with a barge pole’ and ‘Most of the staff are rude and unfriendly… All in all a terrible experience. Never again.’
It was the terminal at the airport that came in for most criticism here. Customers commented on the poor bus transfer to the gate and unfriendly staff. Another criticism was that the elderly and passengers with children weren’t properly catered for. And one reviewer said the pilot announced: 'Sorry, we do not fly today. The plane is broken'.
The general stampede for unallocated seats was a common criticism for easyJet. One customer complained: ‘It would cost the easyJet computer nothing to allocate seats and alleviate the impression one is fighting for a place on a bus that may be overfull’; another said: ‘My biggest concern was the feeling of chaos inboard. The safety demo audio was played at a very low volume, and people were speaking on their mobile phones during the safety demonstration, cabin crew seemingly not giving a damn.’ Other complaints include overbooked flights and disorganised service...
Lack of food on international flights, a poorly kept plane and bad service generally were all at the heart of the complaints by travellers. TOne passenger pulled no punches with the comment: ‘My trip from Lima, Peru to Boston was the biggest nightmare of my life next to getting all four of my wisdom teeth pulled while conscious’; another, commenting on the policy of charging for hand luggage, said: ‘Robbing people as they board your airplane should really help your already abysmal tardy departure record…’ and a third summed up with: ‘They charge for everything, their agents are rude, and the flights are overbooked, late, not that clean, and just an awful experience.’ Biggest gripe of all was the charges the airline makes for hand luggage.
It was not hard to find reviewers with a poor opinion of the budget airline. An overriding impression was one of being ripped off. As one customer commented: ‘I've concluded that Ryanair is nothing but a great big social experiment to see how arrogant an airline can get and how low customer service can be pushed before the said airline starts to lose money….We keep coming back to this horrid airline with its miserable service in hope that we'll save a Euro or two. Reality is that we probably end up spending more money than we would have if we opted for a better airline’, while delivered a damning verdict: ‘They have to be the most customer unfriendly company I have come across. Dirty plane when we eventually got on, tired looking and dishevelled cabin crew. What more can I say - a shocking experience that I never wish to repeat.’