/ Travel & Leisure

Three-hour flight takes off without toilet paper

Ryanair aircraft

Ryanair calls itself a ‘no-frills airline’ so you’d probably expect to do without a few luxuries in return for getting a cheap fare. But what about toilet rolls? And on a three-hour flight?

Well that’s what happened to passengers on a Ryanair flight from Murcia, Spain, to London Stansted.

Barely had they settled in their seats before they were told there was no milk for tea or coffee and, oh yes, no toilet paper on board.

Cabin crew on the loo-cost (sorry, couldn’t help myself!) airline made the announcement during the usual safety demonstration.

‘Sorry, we wanted to take off on time’

Their explanation was that the loo rolls hadn’t been delivered and they didn’t want to delay the plane by waiting for them.

Passengers horrified by the airline’s below-bog-standard service immediately lodged complaints about the airline when they landed. After what you can only imagine may have been a few nervous, bum-clenched hours at 40,000 feet.

Toilet roll ‘handling error’

A spokesman for Ryanair blamed this ‘very rare and regrettable stock shortage’ on ‘handling agents’ in Murcia.

‘Our crew explained to passengers that we wished to prioritise an on-time departure for London Stansted rather than wait for these items to be delivered and cause a significant air traffic control delay for all our customers.’

Ryanair charm offensive

Despite this latest setback, Ryanair is reporting that it recently launched a charm offensive and it appears to be paying off.

The Irish low-cost airline has reported that the amount of traffic travelling on its Boeing 737s is up by a fifth this spring.

But, if you were on that flight – how much charm would be needed to make up for this comfort oversight?

Would you be willing to sacrifice potential on-board comfort in return for your flight being on time? Have you come across a worse example of poor customer service or a more unlikely excuse?


I have absolutely no doubt that the excuse was true. Not making youer flying slot with consequent knock-on delays and costs would be very expensive for any airline.

I would be interested in the legal position as I suspect somewhere there are regulations covering the provision of toilets, water , etc etc.

RyanAir could have been much smarter by offering the flight free to all and garnering some kudos. But perhaps no publicity would have suited them best.

Ryanair has been to the toilet before, when we were told of its plans to introduce a charge to spend a penny: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/4861918/Ryanair-considers-charging-passengers-to-use-lavatories.html This proved to be a publicity stunt, rather than a genuine intention to introduce charges.

I wonder if the recent incident was a cruel way of raising awareness of the airline. I have posted a couple of times about the fact that Ryanair had a premium rate number to complain about its use of premium rate numbers. That has gone now, but I’m sure that Ryanair will be back with more examples of poor customer service.

Yes, I remember that publicity stunt by Ryanair to charge for the loos. It reminds me of this song, which covers this topic as well as many other forms of budget airlines’ drip pricing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAg0lUYHHFc

Even more extreme, watch this system of charging for life jackets on the BBC’s Come Fly With Me comedy (same team as Little Britain): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Idd32nyf1pc

Very good. Unfortunately, poor service seems to have a bit of a cult following.

I had a similar experience with British Airways. On an 11:20 flight from Ibiza to London City, they took off with no Champagne, because the passengers on the early morning outbound flight from London City to Ibiza had drunk it all! This highlighted that BA wasn’t stocking up with chilled drinks locally before each flight but was instead allowing chilled drinks to warm up for a long time on UK-outbound flights before serving them on UK-inbound flights.

Given that one of the obvious advantages of business class is Champagne, I subsequently complained to British Airways. Being British Airways as opposed to Ryanair, they generously compensated me for their failure, and I remained a happy customer.

I can think of a cheaper way to drink better champagne! And has no one ever made a mistake or had to overcome a problem at work that did not have a perfect solution? When my grandparents were alive their loo was outside in a yard, and paper was newspaper squares threaded on a piece of string hung on the door. Whilst I’m not suggesting Ryanair opt for outside toilets I’m sure some ingenuity could have provided for an emergency – most of our newspapers would be more useful if hung on the toilet door. I hope the flight did not encounter any stressful events.

Malcolm – I nearly spilt my coffee laughing at the idea of a Ryanair plane with an outside loo. 🙂

I would like to know why we need business class at all. We should keep down prices for goods and services, and the expenses claimed by politicians and those in public service.

wc (sorry, that seems appropriate given the topic 🙂 ) I also wonder why we need first class on trains – reducing capacity. Clearly it is designed to extract revenue from business, as do airlines, and maybe there is a business case. But it bothers me also that anyone in public service should be entitled to spend taxpayers’ money on travel in classes most of the rest of us cannot afford. Just make seats comfortable for all and abolish class.

I think you’ll find that public sector workers have particularly strict levels on the use of first class train fares and business class air fares. I believe that at one time, government employees were not even allowed to collect airmiles.

When it comes to private sector business travel, there are many reasons why business class is necessary. I work in investment banking, and most banks’ travel policies allow business class only for flights above a certain number of hours. The number of hours varies from one bank to another, typically between 2 and 6 hours, and most banks have moved towards the upper end of this range. First class air travel is typically allowed only for the most senior management (if at all) or when travelling with a client who flies in first class.

Providing a flat bed for an overnight flight is essential if you expect the worker to work a full day the next day. Otherwise you have to give the worker a day off to get enough sleep; this becomes expensive and the cost-saving of an economy ticket literally becomes a false economy.

When it comes to short haul travel, business class usually gives a proper meal, which saves the worker having to use working time for a meal, for example by getting to the airport earlier. business class usually gives a proper meal, which saves the worker having to use working time for a meal, for example by getting to the airport earlier.

Businesses need flexible tickets for their workers. Often the difference between fully-flexible economy and fully-flexible business class is relatively small, although increases in this differential are one reason that many banks have increased their threshold from 2 or 3 hours up to 5 or 6 hours.

NFH, as far as I am concerned the private sector can spend its money how it likes. It is out of there profits and if they support airlines – hopefully our own – then I have no problem with that. For rail travel I see absolutely no need to have two classes; to see second class passengers standing while space is available in first is ludicrous. One class would be quite appropriate. We don’t have first class on coaches.

Paying for business class to get a meal seems a very expensive way to eat. I see no difficulty in getting to the airport early for breakfast. One flight I took to Eindhoven saw me having a light breakfast at home, eating a breakfast with my travelling companion at Gatwick – a good fried meal – then presented with a substantial cooked breakfast as soon as we took off, and our host who met us from the plane thought we’d go straight for lunch. Toiurist class.

I don’t see any difference between the private and the public sector, Malcolm, if it means that the public are paying higher prices for goods and services.

The additional price of business class in order to get a meal is not for the meal itself but the timing of the meal. If a worker has spent all day in an office abroad with an evening flight from 19:00 to 21:00, then the optimal time for an evening meal is on the return flight, and not to get to the airport an hour earlier than would otherwise be necessary in order to have a meal before the flight. An hour of the worker’s time can be worth more than the additional price of business class. However, as I explained, this is just one of many reasons why businesses pay for their workers to fly in business class.

It is indeed true that we don’t have first class on coaches, but one could rank coach travel as a class of travel below second class rail travel.

If airlines didn’t provide business class and first class products, then there would be greater use of private jets, which are even more costly.

On a lighter note, your mention of first and second classes on trains reminded me of the time my employer gave me a first-class train ticket for a business trip from London to Reading. I sat in second class, unaware that the logo that said “1st” on my seat referred not to 1st class but to the name of the train company – First Great Western. I only found out when the ticket inspector came and told me I was sitting in the wrong section. As I was already feeling comfortable, I didn’t bother moving.

And the earlier mention of outside loos on a plane reminded me of the Yorkshire Airways sketch – apologies if you’ve already seen it, but it’s a classic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJxzDYJ4C3Y

You might find this hard to fathom but sometimes it works out cheaper to use business class even ignoring the “perks”. Not often but my best was £600 same day, same time, same flight. Worth checking.

The same is true of trains on some routes.

Look before you book.

physicscitizen says:
26 June 2015

Ohhhh…. what? and open yourself up to arguments about socialism or being “Red”??

Islander says:
9 May 2015

This simply strengthens my resolve NEVER to use this airline, thus contributing towards its profitability. I would, instead, rather travel to another departure airport to travel to my destination with an alternative airline, or travel overland. I have NEVER spent a penny with this company and NEVER will. Vote with your feet. Ryanair’s only contribution to the airline industry is to give it a bad name.

I agree with you. I prefer to fly with proper airlines, mainly British Airways. But the problem is that some routes are lacking any proper airline and are served only by budget airlines. Take the Baltic states for example, which are served only by budget airlines from irritating “London” airports such as Luton and Stansted. And at the same time BA serves some pointless French destinations from LCY such as Quimper, Angers and Chambéry. Something needs to change, given that only budget airlines are serving some EU capital cities and BA is serving minor regional French airports from London’s business airport. It doesn’t make any sense.

Maybe its time for airlines to consider doing away with toilet paper altogether and converting to the more hygienic Japanese style toilets. Pressing the correct button might be an issue for some though!

I like the lateral thinking Beryl !

An interesting thought to provide toilets for the various national types – to make them feel more relaxed.

Those high tech Japanese ones might be problematic both in use and servicing . I wonder if Dyson has looked into them.? : )

All that research into Cyclonic power sounds about right.

Perhaps more usefully they could go with male and female urinals to speed the flow of passengers and provide extra storage room for things like water and toilet rolls..

Are you suggesting the new Dyson Toilet? Since airlines use vacuum toilets, I can see the connection. I would be concerned about reliability, but perhaps Dyson hand dryers might be an idea, especially if Ryanair forgets the paper towels.

@dieseltaylor – f you’re going to cater for “various national types”, would that mean that Cypriot airlines would have a smelly bin for all the dirty paper instead of flushing it? 😉

I could not possibly indulge in national stereotyping! : )

I am glad it has been amusing though. I had to think carefully about Cyclonic and Colonic and whether one was too obvious.!

I think we have had enough toilet humour. May I propose a motion that we move on to other aspects of service offered by airlines, including value for money.

I have never understood the obsession with airlines feeding you, even on a short flight. A cup of coffee, white no sugar, will do me fine.

By the time the coffee’s arrived on short haul flights, you’re nearly ready to land. From previous flying, it’s certainly not enjoyable to attempt sipping scalding drinks when the plane’s rocking all over the place!

wavechange, as an engineer the “connection” has caused my mind to boggle.
The intro mentions Ryanair’s “charm offensive”. I would miss the ability to lampoon Ryanair as it has a history of being “offensive” without the “charm”. Would be sadly missed – we need something to vent our spleen on in these (fading?) times of austerity.

I’m not sure what we are supposed to be discussing, Malcolm. I’m very glad that most of the air travel that I did was before Ryanair and other budget airlines took off.

I won’t be caught out if I’m caught short on a plane as I never travel without a travel roll of Andrex – not that I have any particular condition that justifies such precautions, I just know it makes sense. Luckily I have the sort of constitution that enables me to go for many hours without eating or drinking and I tend to avoid food and drink when flying, mainly because I don’t like what they issue in the class I can afford but also because I don’t like the toilets on planes. I think my longest endurance test was nine hours from Rio de Janeiro to Paris; the one time when I could have used some extra legroom.

I go with those very cheap multipacks of “Nose” Tissues from the likes of Aldi. More functional and of a robust quality.

I had no idea that you could purchase these special “travel” packs at 12 wipes or even “washlets”. Shades of Rabelais.

Do they still have sick bags on planes? Perhaps Ryanair could extend that concept – I’m sure astronautical technology could be transposed to the airline, so as well as carrying your own personal bogroll…….. This would, of course, free up some space for more passengers who could cough up extortionate money for a coffee-flavoured drink, operated by CostaLotta.

The body is very good at dealing with long periods without a visit, as an undisturbed long night’s sleep is testimony to, but John’s marathon? There might have been more legroom in the toilet.

Maybe this was all a form of market research by Ryanair. If they follow the example of some airports charging £1 for plastic bags for security, Ryanair could have a dispenser in each on-board loo whereby you pay £1 for several sheets from a loo roll. Perhaps Ryanair wanted to see what passengers would do without any free loo paper and whether they would find a workaround.

Is Ryanair’s in-flight magazine what you had in mind?

I recently had cause (coincidentally) to complain about the toilet tissue on a one night promotional by a well known cruise ship company. I was very thankful it was just the one night as I felt it would have been better suited to prepare my walls for a repaint job. I did make the point at the time that I would have to bring my own loo roll had I contemplated booking a weeks cruise.

I must add the food and service was excellent.

I presume that each passenger can board with one piece of cabin baggage plus their loo roll.

Not having experienced a cruise holiday but have travelled extensively by other means Wavechange I am unable to say whether one loo roll per one piece of cabin baggage would suffice. Judging by the amount and choice of food on display I have my doubts!

Beryl – Give credit name names! At a guess CMV or Fred Olsen as they do the overnight tasters.

Having travelled on both I can remember no time when this problem arose. Incidentally if travelling port to port the 90kgs per person baggage allowance would allow more than one roll if one was concerned.

DT – I try to adhere to the T & C’s as much as possible in my comments which is the main reason I hesitate to name names.

Incidentally there is more news in today’s edition of Daily Mail of yet another gastric outbreak on a Fred Olsen cruise to the Norwegion Fjords involving 1163 passengers. Stuff of nightmares for me I am afraid which is another reason why I will never go cruising.

I must add the Saga cruise ship had a number of hand sanitizers distributed at various points which you were expected to use, particularly on embarkation and you were not allowed in the dining area before utilising one, very much to their credit.

Beryl – This was an outbreak of norovirus, which his highly contagious and best controlled by keeping affected people away from others until they have recovered. A cruise ship will have many people in mixing with others, so it is not surprising that we have norovirus outbreaks on ships.

Hand sanitisers are not as effective as hand washing. To quote from Wikipedia:
“Hand washing with soap and water is an effective method for reducing the transmission of norovirus pathogens. Alcohol rubs (≥62% ethanol) may be used as an adjunct, but are less effective than hand-washing, as norovirus lacks a lipid viral envelope.”

Shellfish have been implicated as a source of norovirus. I am not sure of the strength of the evidence but it might be prudent to exclude them from menus on cruise ships.

Wavechange, before boarding the cruise ship I was required to fill in a health questionnaire requesting information as to whether I had suffered any cold or flu symptoms or nausea and dysentery within the previous 2 days or if I had visited any countries with an e-bola outbreak.

I agree that hand washing is the best method to keep the noro-virus pathogens at bay if only everyone would do this, but the fact remains not everyone does which necessitates the use of sanitizers as a precautionary adjunct. I once had a serious reaction to shellfish so never touch anything other than prawns when eating out. Trouble is, as I ate a seafood salad I have never been able to establish which species of shellfish I am allergic to!

I sincerely hope the research will continue in order to establish the cause of this debilitating outbreak which can turn what should be a pleasant and enjoyable holiday break into a nightmare scenario for some..

Beryl – I appreciate that the cruise ship operators are aware of the risks and trying to minimise risks but having a lot of people in close contact is always going to be a risk. It’s well known that airlines can help people share their cold with fellow passengers.

Any content you add to the website will:

be factually accurate and/or be your genuinely held belief or opinion that is based on facts;

I do hope they succeed Wavechange but please can they change their loo rolls to a softer consistency or maybe install Japanese style toilets in the event of a norovirus outbreak!

” But within hours of boarding the ship he was struck down by the vomiting bug.”

So no chance he was carrying it on-board then? Passengers lie becuase they have been looking forward to the trip and do not want to cancel. When it turns nasty it must be the ships fault.

” Norovirus, sometimes known as the winter vomiting bug[1] in the UK, is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in humans. It affects people of all ages.[2] The virus is transmitted by fecally contaminated food or water, by person-to-person contact,[3] and via aerosolization of the virus and subsequent contamination of surfaces.[4] The virus affects around 267 million people and causes over 200,000 deaths each year; these deaths are usually in less developed countries and in the very young, elderly and immunosuppressed.[5]

Norovirus infection is characterized by nausea, forceful vomiting, watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, and in some cases, loss of taste. General lethargy, weakness, muscle aches, headache, and low-grade fever may occur. The disease is usually self-limiting, and severe illness is rare. Although having norovirus can be unpleasant, it is not usually dangerous and most who contract it make a full recovery within a couple of days.[1] Norovirus is rapidly inactivated by either sufficient heating or by chlorine-based disinfectants, but the virus is less susceptible to alcohols and detergents. [6]

After infection, immunity to norovirus is usually incomplete and temporary[7] with one publication drawing the conclusion that protective immunity to the same strain of norovirus lasts for six months, but that all such immunity is gone after two years.[8] Outbreaks of norovirus infection often occur in closed or semiclosed communities, such as long-term care facilities, overnight camps, hospitals, schools, prisons, dormitories, and cruise ships, where the infection spreads very rapidly either by person-to-person transmission or through contaminated food.[9] Many norovirus outbreaks have been traced to food that was handled by one infected person.[10]

The genus name Norovirus is derived from Norwalk virus, the only species of the genus. The species causes approximately 90% of epidemic nonbacterial outbreaks of gastroenteritis around the world,[11] and may be responsible for 50% of all foodborne outbreaks of gastroenteritis in the United States.” Wikipedia

It is very unfortunate that this cruise has been spoilt. I have a preference for smaller ships for many reasons but the odds on a carrier on-board a small ship of carriers must be less than a 4000 passengers on a behemoth.

I think I should add that IMO it is the passing by touch and aerosol that are the main culprits and convenient though it may be I do not believe the food to be the primary cause.

We are always very scrupulous on washing hands, and I avoid hand rails etc where possible if there are people sick with norovirus. None of our cruises have been ruined and I rate them highly for value and pleasure. However I prefer the longer cruise [28 days plus] to maximise the chances of going to new places AND being able to sail from and return to the UK.

The short cruises I am wary of.