Airport tales #2 – the myth of low-cost – Ryanair “experience”

Low-cost they say… as much as I love the popularity that my country recently acquired, it’s cheaper to fly to Seul from London on a normal flight, than flying “low-cost” to Lisbon.

My latest low-cost flight was as painful as funny. There isn’t a great deal of difference between the service amongst low-costs. More cattle, less cattle, we are all packed together in an “outstanding service” to fulfill boarding and landing timetable metrics.

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Ryanair portal allowed me to book my flight ticket and the Luton airport car parking space together. When you change the plane ticket, it doesn’t change the car… or so I realized when I arrived at the airport. Only a painful contact service to Ryaniar could save me from paying twice. Of course with the strike, this contact was impossible! Lucky me to not get hit by the pilot strike by Ryanair.

It seems to be that now the policy is you need to pay extra 7€ if you want to have your trolley bag with you on the plane, otherwise they will take it away. This meant that I wasn’t able to pull off my ninja trick of disposing relentlessly of the yellow tag (they check your ticket 2 times for this), and had to carry my laptop in hand. Other than that, despite boarding a plane full of drunken guys and gals on their way to stag parties, the outbound flight was pretty smooth.

Cattle service strikes again…

Kipper Williams cartoon 31 July 2012

To avoid carrying my laptop in hand again, on my return I did paid the 7€ for “priority”. This has granted me to be in the 1st line to offload the waiting room (1 of 3 lines) and have the luxury of not being separated from my belongings. Of course, the staff was missing the morning coffee, an still try to yellow tag my bag from me. I was proudly flashing my priority ticket… not this time lady!

20 minutes pass standing in that line. There is movement, and mislead by the boarding time assumption, my priority lane starts yawning its way into a second line outside.  It is 6am, still warm from the aircon inside, the groups stays first outside pretty spread out. 10 minutes after and the staff, always proactive, asks us to “squeeze” to give way to another portion of the herd to fit in the little square. The squeezing was not too bad, as the 17Cº had set in, and the cold shakes away all summer vibes. Unbelievably, they made us wait outside for 40 minutes before boarding the plane. Priority lane… lucky me!

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Priority lane… 40 minutes in the cold at 6 am!

Sales, sales, sales…

Inside the plane, the easiness of the Portuguese staff was quite amusing. I do love that about my people. It suits perfectly with the new on-boarding sales strategy.

There were at least 5 purchasing opportunities during the flight. First it starts with food and drinks… twice. In between there is a watch sales. Afterwards, comes the electronics, where they advertise heavily universal adaptors to the UK, because “no need to worry, Ryanair has the solution”. Perfumes follow quickly after, with Versace perfume sale that is now only 18€, “I have no idea how much it costs in the UK, but in Portugal is usually 80€ with discount, and is only 50ml, so you can even pass by security with it, it is a great opportunity” the staff said (I am pretty sure it was the pilot!).

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Perfume cannot go without an eyeliner and mascara “baratuxos” (slang word for bargain) for the ladies in the plane. And finally, to close this big flight auction, how could we ever resist the urge to buy some “raspadinhas” that are 50% off “only on this flight” and enables you to win 1 car… oh and it counts for charity! Thinking this strategy in the 80’s would have been a killer! I’m personally hoping they start selling Bolas de Berlim! (Common beach pastry sold during the summer by street walking vendors).

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Sales campaign is over, and we are now ready to land. The poor guy sitting on my right was in deep sleep, surely the sales jingles felt like a luluby, only to be unmercifully woken up by a “jornalada” to close his tray (yes, the flight attendant hit him softly with a rolled newspaper on the head… ) I was in awe!! Maybe we are dogs and not cows!

On my way out of the plane, I finally recognize the food smell coming from one of the 3 bags belonging to the lady sitting on my left. I bet it has something to do with the Versace perfume promotion. There is clearly some cooked “bacalhau” (cod fish) in her bag. How she passed by security with that I have no idea.

In the end, all I could think during this flight was… lucky bastard!! I bet he wasn’t priority lane.

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