Why at a Ryanair checkin is there always somebody weeping? In this case, at Girona airport in Catalonia last week, she was a respectable, grandma-aged German lady in a white cotton-and-lace blouse. She was standing by the counter where you have to pay extra (only cash accepted) if you didn’t tick the right box for a checked-in suitcase when completing your online ticket purchase; or buy another flight at maximum price if you turned up one minute late for the flight you were supposed to be on.
I was in the first category: I had hold luggage, and was stung for E20 extra, which was bearable. Whatever the weeping lady had been stung for, however, was not. She was sobbing uncontrollably while other passengers (including me) shuffled past, helpless and embarrassed.
The Spanish Ryanair staff looked mortified. British or French minor functionaries positively enjoy being insolent by proxy in the service of a higher command, but it is not in the Spanish temperament to cold-shoulder a weeping old lady who might be your mother, unless you are slaughtering her in a civil war. The lady in question appeared to speak only German and nobody else (including me) was able to. It did briefly strike me that Michael O’Leary, the Ryanair boss who cultivates and burnishes his airline’s reputation for a thrilling disregard of customers’ feelings, may actually be hiring actors to stand weeping by his check-ins all across Europe, pour encourager les autres, and to give passengers the appropriate sense of subordination before a heartless corporate structure. [Read more…]