Posted March 20, 2009 by Carl Unger
Irish discount carrier Ryanair, known mostly for its cheap flights, also has a knack for getting free publicity. Recently, the airline's CEO Michael O'Leary said Ryanair might begin charging passengers to use the bathroom, a suggestion that whipped travelers and industry analysts into a frothy frenzy. About a week later, O'Leary effectively said, "just kidding," and joked that "bureaucrats" would never allow him to charge for restrooms anyway.
But the amount of free PR generated by O'Leary's comments was not lost on the folks at Ryanair. The carrier is now running a competition that offers €1,000 (about $1,356) to whoever can come up with the next fee Ryanair should charge. If you’re like me, your first thought was: This is like someone saying, "I'm going to punch you, but you get to pick where."
When I read Ryanair's list of the "best suggestions" it has received so far though, I realized this competition may be less serious than it had seemed at first:
Charging for toilet paper – with O’Leary’s face on it
Charging €2.50 to read the safety cards
Charging €1 to use oxygen masks
Charging €25 to use the emergency exit
Charging €50 for bikini clad Cabin Crew
If these are the best suggestions, my guess is that Ryanair is looking for something silly as opposed to honest business ideas. So, readers, let's hear from you. What are some oddball services Ryanair could charge for? How about a €5 no-snoring-seatmates fee, which guarantees the flight attendants will jostle the guy next to you when he starts to snore. Perhaps a €10 no-kid-kicking-your-seat fee, paid in advance, to make sure no rambunctious children can be seated behind you? Share your ideas below.
And if you want to enter Ryanair's contest, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. And let's all hope this really is a publicity stunt, otherwise the oxygen masks may one day come with a coin slot.