So, is he kidding? Or, who (m) does he think he is kidding? He is Michael O’Leary, the head of Ryanair, Europe’s largest really cheap carrier. O’Leary went onto BBC to tell a morning ‘chat show’ that maybe Ryanair would perhaps possibly begin charging its passengers to use the lavatories on board its Boeing 737s. O’Leary had a more or les straight face as he chatted with the a.m. show, but then again he usually does.
While few are taking his potty talk seriously, O’Leary also said the other day that Ryanair would be doing away with check-in counters at all of its airports, a statement that he is still standing by – and which he repeated in the course of the BBC interview. We spoke to a few US and Asian carriers that adhere to the same really low-cost philosophy that Ryanair champions, and we found one that did not outright dismiss the O’Leary counter-culture concept. At Spirit Airlines, the ‘ultra low-cost carrier’ based near Miami, “we’re not laughing at them,” says chief marketing officer Barry Biffle.
“When you think about it,” Biffle says, “there really isn’t any such thing as a ticket counter. No one buys tickets there
, and at Spirit almost everyone checks in on-line or at a kiosk. So when you consider that the ‘ticket counter’ is pretty much the most expensive piece of airport real-estate that we have, you have to ask what to do with it. People use it to check bags and that’s about it.”
Unfortunately, though, Biffle says, “we don’t yet have the technology to do all the things we now do (with the counters). But we don’t rule it out.” As for charging for the use of the toilet, Spirit says no.