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April 08, 2021

A rumour no more: Ryanair institutes pay-to-pee policy

Last year, when Ryanair proposed charging customers to use its airline toilets, there was really only one thing more ridiculous.

Actually doing it.

Yes, the no-frills, high-profile Irish airline is back making headlines again this week, finally instituting its rumoured pay-to-pee policy that has the world’s travelers up in arms.

Ryanair announced Wednesday morning it was already working with Boeing to retrofit 168 of the outfit’s planes with coin-operated toilets.

For Europeans, or any Canadians travelling overseas, a trip to the onboard loo will cost one pound or euro, “whichever you have on you,” according to the Dallas Morning News.

“By charging for the toilets we are hoping to change passenger behaviour so that they use the bathroom before or after the flight,” a Ryanair spokesman told TravelMail.

Now, consumers of the world shouldn’t totally  be surprised by this move. Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary is like Richard Branson on speed – he’s no stranger to spectacular business moves that get people talking.

And airlines have long been known to institute ridiculous fees wherever they can. For any objections, I’d like to direct the court to Spirit’s $45 carry-on bag fee, American’s $100 unaccompanied minor fee and Delta’s “if you book your ticket over the phone and not online, that’ll be $25” fee.

But paying to pee at 35,000 feet is one move, headline-generating or not, that might bite Ryanair in the long run.

The airline says it’s making the change, in part, so it can add six extra seats in each Ryanair cabin. Yet, isn’t there a chance the airline’s now pissed off enough people that they could lose far more than six airfares per flight because of something as antagonizing as pay toilets?

More importantly, as MSN’s own James Havers pointed out last year, won’t there be a good chunk of travelers that might scoff at buying booze on flights – a major airline revenue generator – if they now have to spend a couple bucks each time they have to pee?

As Canadians, thankfully, we’re still a bit removed from Ryanair’s policies. We don’t have an airline here nearly as discount as Ryanair is, and those are the only types of outfits that could get away with such a ludicrous policy.

But the pay-to-pee movement isn’t totally impossible this side of the Atlantic. If Ryanair can pull it off, who’s to say Southwest, for example, couldn’t do the same south of the border?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...