By charging for use of onboard toilets, Ryanair, one of Europe’s biggest discount airlines, hopes to change passenger habits, leading to extra capacity on board.
How will that happen exactly?
“By charging for the toilets, we are hoping to change passenger behaviour so that they use the bathroom before or after the flight,” Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara told the UK’s Daily Mail. That would enable the low-cost carrier to remove two out of three toilets, creating space for at least six extra seats, the airline’s management believes.
Coin operated toilets will soon appear on Ryanair flights of one hour or less, forcing passengers to fork out £1 (US$1.65) or €1 (US$1.45) every time they “have to go”.
Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s irrepressible CEO, first mentioned the plan early in 2009, raising the hackles of local consumer groups. But O’Leary cited the fact that some London railway stations were already charging for use of their toilets.
In a previous Business Traveller report (see news) he was quoted as saying: “Our passengers choose to pay a pound for the toilet, no one is forcing them to…they’ll learn to go to the toilet before boarding, and they’ll go after landing. It’s an hour’s flight, they’ll survive.”
Dub it controversial or otherwise, Ryanair has gained a reputation for creative, if not controversial cost-cutting policies.
Last year, it ran a poll on its website asking passengers if they would travel in what it calls “vertical seating”, essentially a board with a seatbelt attached. It was proposing to offer standing tickets on flights of one hour or less. O’Leary has also mulled over introducing a “fat tax”.
It remains to be seen whether consumer bodies will challenge Ryanair’s latest move. One consumer advocate said it was “penalising famiies going on holiday”.
For more on the airline, visit www.ryanair.co.uk
Margie T Logarta