« Duped, woman now on the hook for mortgage fraud | Main | Can you live well for less by retiring abroad? »

July 02, 2021

Ryanair wants you to stand while you fly

A quick Ryanair primer for those unfamiliar:

The budget airline, based out of Dublin, is run by a man named Michael O’Leary. O’Leary is a CEO right out of the Sir Richard Branson mould, reserved for bosses who crave – and value – heaps of publicity. You might remember this behaviour cresting in April when Ryanair told the world it would begin charging its passengers to use the airline’s toilets.

And O’Leary, not unlike Mel Gibson’s lack of discretion, is back at it again. Last night, Ryanair announced it would begin the process of offering standing room seats and fares on some of its airplanes.

1271921_icons_va_3 According to the Daily Mail, the Irish budget carrier is set to begin safety testing on discount seats where passengers would perch on a narrow shelf-like plank and lean against a padded backboard for support. Shoulder restraints would also extend over and across the passenger’s chest for extra protection during the flight. Picture here.

If O’Leary has his way – read: if the European Aviation Safety Agency gives them the okay – Ryanair would remove the back ten rows of seats on 250 of its airplanes and add 15 rows of the standing room “chairs.”

While this plan is probably two parts publicity to one part business sense, that one part is still a big chunk when you step back and analyze the airline’s proposal.

For starters, standing room fares could be as low as $6.50 for passengers (that’s why, with such a low profit margin, the Ryanair move isn’t a complete slam dunk despite adding dozens of paying customers per flight) so they’re bound to be popular among all types of travelers.

Remember: the lion’s share of Ryanair flights are within Europe, so your longest possible flight can’t be much more than a few hours in duration. For the money, it’s not like you’re being asked to walk on hot coals for a cross-Atlantic journey.

And on that note, these seats don’t seem that bad. Anyone ever been on one of those standing roller coasters, where you’ve got the fake-seat-thingy between your crotch that supports your weight for the length of the ride? Those things are fine, right? As long as your back isn’t bearing the brunt of your weight, these seats should be just peachy. For a $6 flight, the comfort level seems more than generous.

In any case, the question on everyone’s minds is probably this: will we ever see standing room flights on Canadian airlines?

Well, I asked reps from both Air Canada and WestJet yesterday, and while AC didn’t respond as of press time, WestJet’s answer was telling enough:

“I can’t speak for other airlines, but we certainly have no plans to consider such a move,” said Robert Palmer, the carrier’s spokesperson. “WestJet strives to deliver a world-class guest experience each and every day, and clearly, this type of seating arrangement would fall well short of that. Regardless … I’m certain it wouldn't meet Canadian aviation safety regulations.”

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



Post a comment


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...

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...