Following the news last week that Ryanair is to introduce a £10 fee for the privilege of printing your own boarding card, news reaches me of an even nastier - and unpublicised - ‘sting.’ Friends who have recently flown back to France from Stansted, report that the airline now carries out last minute checks at the boarding gate, pulling passengers out of the queue to measure and weigh their bags.
If you’re unlucky enough to be a gram or a millimetre over the prescribed dimensions you are clobbered with an on-the-spot fine of £40 and forced to check in your bag. This is presumably to weed out those guilty of buying a bottle of duty free, thus tipping their bags over the allotted ten kilos.
Of all Ryanair’s charges, this strikes me as the most insidious. Having circumnavigated check-in, security and the whole uncivilised process of flying with this airline - and by the time you’ve hiked several kilometres to the gate, since Ryanair is too cheap to pay for accessible parking stands - you could be forgiven for allowing yourself to relax without fear of being hit with any more charges. But no, Mr O’Leary has found one last way to mug and demean his customers before they board the plane.
Travis reports that one passenger - who had been daring enough to buy several cartons of cigarettes - reacted by unpacking his case, swapping his trainers for a pair of heavier shoes and trying to wear as much of his carry-on luggage as possible, in order to fit his cigarettes into his bag. Well done that man! I suggest anyone caught out similarly do the same: if Ryanair is going to treat its passengers like this, the only way to react is in a similarly small-minded way. Hopefully, faced with dozens of people unpacking their bags and changing outfits at the boarding gate, the airline might rethink this last-minute sting.
Meanwhile, should his airline ever go tail up, I have thought of another career for Mr O’Leary. Given his greed and propensity for mugging the public, he could join the appalling ranks of Hazel Blears, Mr and Mrs Ed Balls etc and become an MP.