Thursday, February 26, 2009

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!

2008: I nearly didn't join the party + Keeping Sam Company
2007: Fun Monday-6

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At 1/3/09 00:37, Blogger WT said...

It wasn't competition from RyanAir that caused Aer Lingus to lose customers, it was when they changed their name to Cunni.

Oh, and it was a comment about brown paper packages tied with string.

At 1/3/09 00:39, Blogger WT said...

PS. You need to update your link to my blog it's been for a while now.

At 1/3/09 02:08, Blogger Barbara said...

I was air crew in the '70's and it was very different job to today. I can't believe they would charge to use the bathroom. Might be good though. You probably wouldn't have to queu anymore as more people "held on"

At 1/3/09 03:22, Blogger A Spot of T said...

Charging to use a bathroom?? Well lets hope that doesn't happen. Good grief that would be sinking to a new low!

At 1/3/09 06:14, Anonymous mark said...

As far as the charging for lavatory use goes, I initially balked at the idea but now it seems reasonable to me. How many times have I sat opposite or too near the damn lavatory to have people queuing up and interrupting my napping with elbows, asses and the gasses venting from the lavatory. This would surely cut down on frivolous lavatory usage, and from where I'm sitting, that sounds great. Additionally, for those of us who never use the lavatory it places the costs of operation on those using it rather than on the entirety of the plane. *stepping off soapbox*

At 1/3/09 10:22, Blogger Beccy said...

I think that you are being unfair mum. To fly today between Dublin and Bristol is much cheaper that it was fifteen years ago when I first moved here. As you say yourself flights back then cost over £100 and I remember once paying £140 to return between Dublin and Bristol. OK so you can no longer fly for under £20 but the environment has changed, oil prices have gone up and some taxes have been introduced to offset your carbon footprint (surely a conscientious traveller has no objection to this).

I think you should be pleased that you can fly to me with hold luggage for around £60, considering most things have increased in cost over the past fifteen years surely it is good that the cost of a return flight to your loved ones is cheaper and that means you can visit more often. It's only a 45 minute flight so decline the costly coffe and cake, then no need to pay for the toilet and I'll have a tastier homemade cake waiting for you.

Just for the fun of I just keyed in random dates in May. You can travel return Bristol to Dublin, hand luggage only, for the princely sum of £28.38 Sat-Thurs (including booking fee). Personally I think that sounds like a bargain and if Ryanair hadn't started the Bristol route I'm sure that Aer Lingus would still be charging those sky high prices as they would have had no competition and I for one wouldn't be able to fly over as often as we'd be paying at least €800 which is more than double the amount we pay now.

That must be your longest ever comment? I should have written a blog post!

At 1/3/09 11:02, Blogger kitten said...

I have always wanted to fly but have never had the chance. With all the restrictions and such that has been going over the last year I'm not so sure I care to fly much at this time anyways. All my trips have been 12- 24 hours driving and I like the sights. But I guess If I did a chance to fly I would, but hopefully no time soon.

At 1/3/09 14:37, Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Such costs as a credit card fee are a little over the top IMO.

At 1/3/09 23:26, Blogger ChrisB said...

WT packages made me think of all the things we had packed and transported.

Barbara did to travel to exotic destinations? I'm OK on a short trip but imaging trying to hold on long haul. LOL I don't think it will catch on!

mark I was probably one of those annoying people in the queue LOL

beccy you did write a blog, I know it's still a good price but I just wish they were up front about it and not devious about the total cost.

Ac I really hate the credit card charge especially when there is no alternative way to pay.

kitten I'm not a brilliant traveller by car so wouldn't want to spend all that time driving if I could avoid it. However if I lived in the US I might think differently!

At 2/3/09 06:48, Blogger Pamela said...

I saw that toilet thing on the NEWS!!!

I haven't read your other comments but this just makes me think of that ridiculous statement:

Less is more.

At 2/3/09 08:22, Blogger Beccy said...

But all the airlines add on taxes and a few charge credit card fees and luggage including Aer Lingus and Easyjet isn't unfair to pick on Ryanair. Whenever we buy tickets to the theatre/musicals/gigs we have to pay booking fees plus you know when you book that you need to allow for these things. The fact is you can still get here for less than £30 and Ben and I did travel for £20 each last summer which I for one think is a real bargain.

At 2/3/09 17:30, Anonymous Grannymar said...


I flew from Dublin to Cork return with Elly & George for the Irish Blog Awards. We stayed overnight. The cost of tickets for three people was about 75Euro.

I had use of a wheelchair for both airports each day and there was no extra charge.

E&G were able to check-in online but I had to check in at the airport because of the w/chair. I was told in advance that there would be no check-in charge for me.

I now wonder how this will change in the future?

Somebody once described Ryanair travel as a glorified bus trip. I have used then for years and for the prices I paid I certainly don't expect 5* frills.

At 5/3/09 00:12, Blogger elena jane said...

the charging for the loo makes me laugh...but as beccy says, if it's a short flight, then most ppl won't have a need! nevertheless...all the fees are such a nuisance (regardless of the changes over the years).....

At 5/3/09 17:14, Blogger ChrisB said...

Grannymar you are right and neither do I really expect frills just a more honest approach. I wish they would quote the price (inclusive of all charges) fr example-it's misleading to say free flight which then turns out to cost over £30.


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