On the face of it, the news today that Ryanair are cutting air links from Edinburgh is bad news. Less holiday destinations for Scots and less business opportunities from afar.
However, digging a little deeper into the story, and one sees that there is little to be sad about. Ryanair trying to grind BAA down to keep its low cost deal for flights out of Edinburgh. Yes, the budget airline provides high footfall but is it worth the price? Shouldn’t BAA strive for quality not quantity?
We all know that Ryanair prices are suspiciously cheap, the feeling you get on their website is not unlike browsing around Primark, but we batter down our consciences in favour of taking advantage of that £5 flight here or £9 flight there, thinking that you’re beating the system. That had certainly always been my experience until a couple of weeks ago when I finally learned exactly how Ryanair could keep some flight prices so low.
The issue started with a boarding pass which had to be printed 4 hours before take-off or a £60 fine would be levied (it used to be 2 hours before take-off and a £40 fine but I guess Michael O’Leary saw some money to be made in making changes). It transpired that I missed the 4 hours by 56 measly seconds but, sure enough, Ryanair’s robust internal procedures meant there was no way around avoiding the £60 charge. Wallop, less kronor for me to spend on my holidays. Bummer.
Now, thankfully, I can absorb such hits into my monthly budgets relatively easily as (1) I have a good job and (2) I’m generally a total skinflint. However, I wasn’t the only one at the desk where such charges had to be paid.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the hulking Polish chap beside me, crying his eyes out at a charge that he had to pay with money that he clearly couldn’t afford. I sneaked a peak and it was a £360 bill he was faced with, for what I do not know. The oddly affable chap behind the Ryanair desk said, quietly (and suitably sadly) that this was nothing, we should have seen the family that was here the day before and another one the day before that. I can do the Maths, 2 parents and 3 kids with no boarding passes adds up to £300 out of the holiday budget. Is that really a way to run a business?
So even if these routes did go ahead at Edinburgh, I’d hope to be resolute in my decision from a fortnight ago to boycott them. It’s no more scratchcards, no more sleep-deprived pilots, no more queuing like animals to get on the flight, no more blaring self-congratulatory tannoy bulletins, no more landing 50 miles from the City I’m looking to visit and no more air attendants with a sadness deep in the eyes. Ryanair has joined the likes of Tesco and Amazon on my ‘I will not buy there no matter how cheap it is’ because, as tempting as the deals are with this airline, I will no longer be able to shake away the image of a tall Polish guy or a distraught family paying over the odds to subsidise my ticket.
Edinburgh could do with more international air links, and I hope BAA holds firm to attract quality airlines to provide new destinations for Scotland’s Capital, but I’ll be hoping the livery of any such planes won’t be daubed in garish blue and yellow and be part of a morally dubious business model.