/ Travel & Leisure

Can Ryanair turn over a new leaf?

Ryanair plane

Is Ryanair turning nice? This autumn has brought the unprecedented spectacle of the airline’s famously unrepentant boss Michael O’Leary apologising and pledging to listen to customers.

There has also been a flurry of announcements about how the airline is making changes to make life easier for customers. Last week Ryanair unveiled a 50% cut in baggage fees, and a change in policy to allow passengers to have a second small piece of hand luggage.

So has the airline that once told passengers ‘we don’t want to hear your sob stories’ had an epiphany with customer service?

Ryanair’s customer service

Ryanair is also making changes to its website. From the start of November, you’ll no longer have to retype the distorted text displayed after a flight search to see flight details. The booking process is also being redesigned, to make it easier to navigate and quicker to get to price quotes. And if you want to use the Ryanair smartphone app, you no longer have to pay to do so.

But what about changes to customer service? Well, Ryanair now has a Twitter account, which it promises to use to deal with customer complaints. So if you’re on Twitter, you have a new way of contacting the airline. If not, it’s business as usual.

There is an acknowledgement from the airline’s boss that Ryanair needs to ‘soften some of the harder edges’ and to eliminate things that upset people unnecessarily. But why make any changes at all? The answer may lie in two sets of financial figures…

Ryanair vs EasyJet

In September, Ryanair announced it could fall short of its most pessimistic annual profit target. Two weeks later, EasyJet announced that its full-year results would be at the top of expectations.

EasyJet is outperforming Ryanair financially, and has been working for some time on improving the customer experience. This has been partly about attracting business travellers who want an inexpensive, but comfortable, experience.

Ryanair is after the same market, and many of the changes bring it into line with what EasyJet has already been doing for some time. It looks like the airline has become worried that it’s losing ground to its rival, and that part of the reason comes down to its attitude to customers.

Best and worst brands for customer satisfaction

This was only reinforced when our survey of best and worst brands for customer satisfaction placed Ryanair bottom of a list of 100 companies, with a customer score of just 54%. EasyJet did better, coming joint 68th with a score of 69%.

Brand loyalty matters, and eight out of 10 in our survey said customer service was an important deciding factor. Analysts believe Ryanair can afford to increase its spending on customer service and still compete on price – so perhaps we will see more concrete changes to come. But it could take a long time to win over the sceptics, and Ryanair isn’t going to be handing out free champagne any time soon.

Do you think Ryanair is changing for the better? Have you had an improved experience with the airline?

Susanne says:
2 November 2013

For musicians, Ryanair has long been the worst airline of all. NO other airline makes you purchase a seat for a violin or viola case. Those cases fit comfortably into an overhead locker; you can fit at least three of them in, and as we are not allowed extra hand luggage on top (apart from with “proper” airlines such as BA, Emirates etc) we do not take up anyone’s hand luggage storage space. Moreover, a violin cannot be stored safely in a seat, as there is no seatbelt tight enough to hold it in place.
Easyjet recognised how important musicians are as customers back in 2002 and has since operated a great official policy, listing the types of instruments permitted as hand luggage, and also making it very simply to purchase extra seats for cellos for example.
Also, as far as I am aware, Ryanair still charge an extortionate fee for using a credit card plus other “administration costs”.
Easyjet get my thumbs up every time!

No problem with violas or cellos, but I’m not sure about violence on aircraft. 🙂

Bill H says:
2 November 2013

I have flown several times with Ryanair and on every occasion bar the last one I had no problems. On the one occasion when I did have cause to complain I experienced first hand the rudeness for which Ryanair has become infamous; the call handler was flippant, unhelpful and put the phone down. It seems that if everything goes smoothly and you obey Ryanair’s rules you’ll be fine and get a good deal but if it doesn’t you’ll pay for it dearly and have little chance of redress. I don’t use them now.

My wife recently had to follow me to France on holiday due to the death of her Mother.She was in a fragile state and was not relishing the lone flight. On collecting her from Nantes airport she was up-beat and very complementary about Easy Jet from Liverpool airport, in fact she still comments to anyone she talks to about the superb experiance of the flight.It just goes to show it pays to be respectful to your customers because they will come back if treated well, and do your promotion for you! Its not hard to imagine if she flew with O’ Leary ‘s Ryanair she would have been near to tears, with the insensitive flight staff, petty rules and unbelievable hoops you have to jump through to actually book the flight.

If travelling across Europe or further on holiday by whatever means , it is prudent to make sure you have funds available to deal with unforeseen delays or occurrences and to be able to deal with a delay in returning home.
Too many people seem to travel with no emergency funds and on a schedule that sees them get home the night before they have to be back at work/school.
They then are unable to cope with a delay or cancellation and the return and accommodation options offered by the airline.
I’ve used RyanAir, Easyjet, Jet2 and all my flights have gone without any issues; however I am under no illusion that I will get great customer service when eventually I runout of luck and factor this is into my plans.

We use RA at least once a year. Not the smooth passage of a charter but the prices are very reasonable and probably more leg room than some charters. It’s a shame that the skimpy but expensive baggage issue means you can never take anything home with you. However, RA does what it says on the tin, you know what you’re getting, the Poundland of the air. It would be nice feel a bit more welcome and please, please stop the bloody fanfare when we touch down!!!!

Mark Hilton says:
4 November 2013

For me its about honesty – Easy Jet are straighforward – RyanAir are disingenuous at best, deceitful at worst. I avoid using them if at all possible.

Atholl Stewart says:
4 November 2013

Overheard at the bar at Glasgow airport.

O’Leary: How much is a pint of Guiness?

Barman: 99p

O’l: that very reasonable, I’ll have one.

Barman: Did you bring a glass with you or would you like to rent one of hours? The no glass option is +50p, a plastic cup is £1 or a proper glass is £2 per half hour or part thereof.

O’L: A glass please.

Barman: OK now as you did not pre-order your pint before you came to the airport, there’s a surcharge of £2. So its £4.99 total

O’L hands over a tenner.

Barman: Thats £5.99 including the cash handling fee. ther’s tour £4.01 change.

O’L that’s ridiculous. How do you justify all these extra charges. I want to speak to the manager.

Barman: next!

I use Ryanair a lot, not because they are cheap (easyjet often cheaper) but because they get me home on time. Both BA and easyjet have a persistent problems with evening flights being late. This is a more important aspect of customer service than whether the cabin crew are grumpy! (and they arent that bad, BA staff are a bit schoolmistressy and rudest person I ever met was an easyjet checkin person in Glasgow)

All my Ryanair flights have arrived way ahead of schedule, made me wonder if they deliberately over estimate the flight time to improve their “ON-TIME” statistics !

you are probably right, I think they all do it. But I’m talking an hour late, not 10 mins.
To be fair to BA I think a lot of their timekeeping problems are down to congestion at Heathrow, and it’s the cumulative effect by the end of the day. Maybe Luton is the same

DavidJ says:
18 November 2013

Does a Leopard change it’s spots. I have used Ryanair once and Never again. The company does not care about it’s customers. They have proved that in the past, all they are interested in is the ££££ they can squeeze out of you and they are now panicking because they are not making as much.

Nancy says:
3 June 2014

I have also used Ryanair and will never use them again. I took a flight from Milan to Manchester T3; the flight time was 1hr 45 mins. The time it took the checked-in luggage to come out on the carousel once the plane landed was 1hr 50mins! Apparently, Ryanair employs their own luggage handling people. Says it all really….

Brian Greatbatch says:
15 July 2014

Recently flew back from Malaga with Ryanair and was aware of their new policy with regard to the limit of the first 90 guaranteed carry on bags When finally queuing to board the aircraft a member of the airport staff appeared and started ticketing bags to go in the hold. He was not interested in the first 90 bag guarantee and so as we reached the aircraft for boarding our bags were taken from us but only after my wife insisted on taking out her medical supplies. Having taken our designated seats were we immediatley aware that our storage space above was empty. Further more, passengers boarding after us streamed on carrying their bags with them. Obviously the 90 bag rule had not been applied and the airport staff had just picked a group of people at random. Throughout the file the storage area above our seats remained empty!! No More Ryanair for us!

John Taylor says:
23 July 2014

Ryanair now only allow you to print off tickets 7 days and 2 hours before your flight departure. This means if your trip is for 8 days plus you will need to print off the return leg whilst on your travels.
Their option is to select your seat at a cost of £10 per person per flight and this you can do at anytime. Seems grossly unfair and simply money grabbing.

Sue says:
23 July 2014

Couldnt agree more. We have just come back from 9 days away, and had to pay for allocated seating on the return flight so that we could print off our boarding passes before we left the UK. I didnt want to spend my time searching for an internet cafe so had no choice. There is clearly no actual readon why you cant print the pass off, it is simply another way of making money. Wake up o’Leary.

Cherry says:
8 August 2014

Decided to give Ryanair another try in April as their flight was most convenient in terms of local airport.
Booking was a disaster – could not enter my name correctly as it has a hyphen and Ryanair said this was an unpermissible character! But if I left the hypen out, my payment card wouldn’t be recognised correctly. So called a Ryanair number in Ireland. Helpful agent managed to take my booking over phone and payment. Immediate confirmation email.
3 hours later another email from Ryanair saying bank had declined payment. So I booked same flight using Opodo with no problems and this is the flight I used.
However when I got my debit card statement it showed Ryanair did take the first payment and hours before sending the cancellation email.
I have emailed them and even sent a letter trying to get the money they took and they seem to deliberately misunderstand, even though I attach all the evidence. They keep trying to make out I made duplicate bookings and ignore the fact that they cancelled my original booking.
It seems their policy is now to act stupid and hope you’ll give up.
However they owe me £80 and I won’t be giving up. The only mistake I made was to book with Ryanair.
I have now resorted to Twitter hoping they will react as it is very public.
Any ideas for next steps?