Irish discount airline Ryanair, infamous for its penny-pinching, had the tables turned on it during a bizarre incident earlier this month.
PO’d passengers did the pinching, reportedly raiding a drink cart for booze, cigarettes, food and perfume, during a flight gone wrong from Rabat, in Morocco, to Paris on Jan. 11.
Part way into the 2.5-hour flight the pilot had to make an emergency landing in Madrid after a passenger became ill. By the time it got back on track, it was too late to land at Paris Beauvais airport, which has a nighttime noise curfew. Instead, the flight was diverted to Nantes airport about 500 kilometres away, where the 170 passengers were to be put up in a hotel for the night then taken by bus to Paris the next morning.
That’s when things went sideways, according to news agencies, with the disgruntled passengers helping themselves to the plane’s goods.
“I am neither a robber nor a hostage taker. We were tired and annoyed by a mismanaged situation. We were thirsty, hungry, and had no information on our fate,” one passenger told France’s Metronews newspaper.
“We compensated ourselves by taking some drinks and food. After seven hours stuck in the plane, instead of two and a half, people needed to eat.”
A Nantes baggage handler said the passengers displayed “almost animal and barbaric behaviour towards the plane, the crew and the ground staff,” according to Metronews. Police had to be called in.
The Nantes incident adds to Ryanair lore as the airline that travellers love to hate. The airline often finds itself at the top of “worst airline” lists.
So much for following the advice of Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary, who said at the company’s annual meeting last September: “We should try to eliminate things that unnecessarily piss people off.”
Often outspoken O’Leary didn’t comment on Nantes incident.
The colourful Irishman, who once mused about charging Ryanair passengers to use the toilet on flights, has been trying to cultivate a “cuddlier” image for Europe’s largest low-cost carrier in the face of stiff competition from rivals like Britain’s EasyJet.
Changes at Ryanair include a price cut for baggage, allowing passengers a second “small” carry-on and, as of Feb. 1, free assigned seating on all flights or a £5 fee for those who rather choose their own seat.
In all, Ryanair will spend about $48 million in 2014 on advertising, website improvements and other travel products, O’Leary told Bloomberg News Jan. 24.
No word on how much is going into the budget for locks on the drink trolleys.
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