Ryanair chief, Michael O’Leary has rejected criticism of the airline’s fees in an exclusive interview with The Independent.
O’Leary was responding to complaints such as those by the family of an elderly couple, one of whom required special assistance, who were charged 127 euros to check-in at the airport after making a mistake online.
Though he expressed sympathy, O’Leary was unapologetic about the situation: “We get lots of criticisms on a regular basis for these policies that are known, and we are absolutely unapologetic for them. If you show up, looking for airport check in, we’ve been charged for about 20 years.”
Defending the airline’s pricing structures and penalty policies, O’Leary said customers who require in-person service at the airport are in the minority and they “wheel up” to the airport not having paid enough attention to multiple reminders about what to do to avoid charges.
“It costs us a fortune to rent airport ticket desks, to have staff sitting beside those ticket desks to look after about 0.2 per cent of our customer base who agree they’ll check in before they arrive at the airport, who get multiple reminders to do so, and still wheel up to the airport,” O’Leary explained. “We don’t want the money, we just don’t want anybody showing up at the airport without having checked in online. It’s a very simple policy.”
“It’s like arriving at the check-in gate with an oversized bag. You will not get it on board. We will charge you £60 or £70 not because we want the money. We just don’t want your bag,” he went on. “If you break the rules on Ryanair, it is a very simple business. We operate with very simple policies.”
While The Independent points out that other airlines do not charge for some of the services Ryanair charges for, O’Leary countered with the idea that those charges for “minority” services were what allows the airline to keep ticket prices low.
“The benefit of it is: that enables us to offer lower fares than any other airline to our travelling public,” O’Leary said. “We are not going to apologise for, resile or change if a customer – regardless of what age they are – shows up at the airport not having checked in online, having been reminded on multiple occasions by us to do so.”