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swiss roll

April 21, 2010

A friend drops by with fabulous news: a new airline is going to be operating flights from Angouleme as from June 2.

Cityline Swiss will run flights on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at a flat cost of €49 for a one-way flight with no sneaky extra charges or 'admin fees.'

It gets better: the fee includes the right to check a 20kg bag into the hold - as opposed to Ryanair's rigorously enforced 15kg, for which the fee is soon to be £20 per bag. And because it's a full-service airline, you will be offered complimentary refreshments on board.

It sounds, dare I say it, civilised. I immediately phone around my friends with the good news and can practically hear them punching the air with joy.

To be fair to Michael O'Dreary, his flights do run on time and in my experience, the cabin crew are nearly always professional and pleasant. But he has badly underestimated his customer, imagining that we will put up with all kinds of nonsense and conneries in the pursuit of a cheap flight.

He's wrong: many of us fly with Ryanair simply because there is no alternative (it's a worrying development that for many destinations in Europe now, Ryanair is the only carrier.) But there is only so much indignity one can put up with and the sight of people unpacking and repacking their bags at the check-in desk - or even at the departure gate where the airline now carries out sneaky last-minute checks - in order to comply with their measly luggage allowances is frankly demeaning to all.

It's doubly satisfying to report this news as Ryanair left Angouleme airport high and dry when it abruptly ceased fights there last year, after O'Leary (illegally) bullied its way into thousands of euros of increased subsidies from communes in the region. Huge investment had been made in developing Angouleme airport so that Ryanair planes could fly there, so hurrah for City Line Swiss, which has stepped in to fill the breach.

City Line Swiss will also be operating flights between Gatwick to Bergerac, Marseille and Lyon. I hope that as many people as possible will support the new venture, thereby telling Mr O'Dreary what to do with his scratch cards and his smokeless cigarettes.

In marked contrast to Ryanair, the new airline even makes it easy for customers to contact them. Displayed prominently on its website, there is a phone number (and not a premium rate one) and an email address. As I said, it sounds civilised. Oh, and if any further inducement is needed, parking at Angouleme airport is free. www.citylinesswiss.com; tel (00 33) 0545698809; bookings@citylinesswiss.com

comments (1)

1. Posted by sherry on April 21, 2010 8:34 PM

Woo Hoo! Thanks for that update. Visiting Charente again this summer and flew Ryanair last time (an interesting experience - coming from bright and busy London to v. relaxed Angouleme!)and thought it was going to be a long drive instead. Can't wait to see the sunflowers and 'big sky' again.

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