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Michael O’Leary, the famously charismatic CEO of Irish budget airline Ryanair, is known for pushing the limits of air travel when it comes to keeping fares low. And travellers are willing to play along if it means cheap tickets.
In September 2011, Ryanair reported a 6 per cent climb in passenger traffic, increasing to 7.25 million from 6.84 million the previous year.
O’Leary’s cost-cutting measures may not always get the greenlight — and are often the subject of controversy — but the company’s innovative milieu is something to admire.
In July 2010, Ryanair introduced plans to charge passengers £4 (about $6) for standing-room-only seats.
The proposal involved removing the back 10 rows of seats from the airline's 250 planes and replacing them with 15 rows of vertical seats.
Ryanair claimed to be shopping the idea to Boeing, but the jetmaker wasn't too fond of bypassing European safety regulations to help customers save a few pennies.
In 2009, Ryanair proposed a 'fat tax' for overweight passengers after one-third of travellers voted in favour of the extra charge in an online poll conducted by the Irish carrier, according to The Guardian.
One month later, the airline said it was dumping the contentious tactic because there was no way to collect the money without causing delays.
In 2009, Ryanair considered charging passengers £1 (about $1.40) to use the toilets on board.
CEO Michael O'Leary told the BBC:
One thing we have looked at in the past, and are looking at again, is the possibility of maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door, so that people might actually have to spend a pound to spend a penny in future.
In 2011, the airline confirmed it was dropping the coin-operated scheme in favour of another controversial plan.
In October 2011, Ryanair served another blow to customer's bladders, announcing plans to reduce the number of toilets on each aircraft from three to one.
Having just one toilet on the plane would allow space for up to six extra seats, thereby increasing carrying capacity, and reducing ticket costs by as much as 5 per cent.
Nothing has been confirmed yet, but a spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents did express concerns saying, 'We all know how inconvenient it can be if a toilet on a plane is out of order. This move could be a step too far.'
Ryanair has received plenty of flack for charging its passengers £40 (about $56) if they forget to print their boarding passes at home.
Earlier this year, a Spanish judge ruled the boarding pass reissue fee illegal, according to CNN.
In October, the Barcelona Appeal Court overturned the court's decision, finding the penalty charge complied with Spanish and EU law.
According to Ryanair's website, 'less than 1% of passengers pay this boarding card reissue penalty which applies only in those rare cases where passengers fail to comply with their agreement, given at the time of booking, that they will web check in online before arriving at the departure airport.'
In 2008, Ryanair began levying a £6 (about $8.40) administrative fee on debit and credit card payments.
In September 2011, the low-cost carrier launched its own pre-paid card, 'Ryanair Cash Passport,' as the only way for passengers to avoid booking fees, according to The Guardian.
Any passenger that purchases the prepaid MasterCard and does not use it after six months, however, will face an inactivity fee of £2.50 (about $3.50) per month.
Many airlines now charge extra for checked or overweight bags, but Ryanair may be the first to try and trim costs by asking passengers to roll their own luggage across the runway and onto the aircraft themselves.
'What it means is no more waiting at the carousel, no more losing your bags, no more wasting your life in over-priced airport terminals,' the company's CEO said back in 2009 (via The Daily Mail).
Ryanair currently charges £40 (about $56) for oversized baggage and £15 (about $20) for up to two checked bags.
Ryanair made headlines in August when the flight crew allegedly offered a soda and sandwich to a passenger suffering a heart attack and the charged him for the meal.
To add insult to injury, the budget carrier is known for charging more than any of its rivals for in-flight food and drink, according to a 2009 study by Nowfly (via The Telegraph).
A comparison among three other airlines -- easyJet, Monarch, and Bmi -- found that Ryanair charges 35% more for tea and coffee, 50% more for a small bottle of wine, and up to 30% more for sandwiches.
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