No Frills Flights
Something Willowtree said recently on Plurk (don't ask me what it was because I've now forgotten) made me think about how flying to Dublin has changed since I took my first ever flight back around 1995. Yes that's right I was in my 50's before I stepped aboard a plane. I bet to many of you that will seem really odd.
Growing up after the war ordinary folks like us were fairly poor and as my mother ran a shop we didn't even have a holiday until I was 16. That year I was lucky enough to be allowed on a school trip to Switzerland (ferry and train). I remember it so well being *abroad*! That was the same year my parents sold our shop and we also had our first family holiday in Devon. I digress and that's a whole story in itself, which I think I may have touched on before.
As you will know Beccy moved to live in Dublin in 1994 and so began my regular flying back and forth. In those days it was only Aer Lingus who flew from Bristol Airport and flights cost over a £100. It didn't occur to me to be nervous about the actual flight but I was very nervous about the nuts and bolts, such as getting on the right plane! Of course it was easy once you you had done it. It is a very short flight but you got breakfast back then -well coffee and a muffin. If you travelled with children you got a goody bag to keep them occupied and I recall they even allowed children to peep into the cockpit- can you imagine that happening these days.
Then along came Ryanair, a budget airline, based in Dublin, who slashed the cost of fares. It was wonderful, I can remember a return flight for as low as £10 and I think I once only paid £5. For many years I regularly flew to Dublin for under £20. This meant I was able to visit Beccy several times a year; the other good thing back then was there were no restrictions on luggage. You would be amazed at the things that have been taken over to Beccy, such as pushchair, bikes, step ladder, three large kitchen stools.
I don't exactly recall when Mike O'Leary (Ryanair Chief executive) decided to tighten things up. One of the first things I recall is he started charging for wheelchair use, however, I believe this was challenged, but I understand everyone now pays a wheelchair levy! He reduced the luggage allowance, then he charged for checking in a bag, as he only wanted people to travel with hand luggage.
As the Ryanair prices increased I realised that Aer Lingus flights had become more competitive and there was only a pound or so difference. The advantage was a more generous luggage allowance, a more comfortable flight and better scheduling, so I went back to using Aer Lingus. Then a couple of years ago Aer Lingus stopped flying from Bristol and I had to again return to using Ryanair. You will often see they advertise very low cost or even free flights! Don't be fooled because this is misleading- once all the extras are added on the price of the flight creeps up.
You have to pay various airport taxes and an insurance levy since 9/11; plus you get charged for using a debit or credit card and even though it is one transaction I believe you get charged double for a return flight (unless you use their credit card). There is no choice you have to use a card to book, be it on line or over the phone actually it costs more over the phone as they only want people to book online-very clever.
On top of this you can pay for priority boarding but why you would want to I really don't know. The free drink and snack has long gone and I'm not sure what they charge for a coffee because I never buy one.
I think you are getting the picture no frills flights are becoming much more expensive for less of everything -less luggage, less service. Ryanair actually plan to dispense with the check in desk altogether over the next year or so-they assume everyone had internet access to check in online and the facility to print a boarding pass!
Now I started writing this post a few days ago but didn't get it posted so there is a...
Just heard on the news Ryanair are even thinking of putting a coin slot on the doors of their plane toilets. In the future it might cost £1 to spend a penny-what ever money making scheme will they come up with next!