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It really says something about the bureaucratic headaches and irritating surcharges associated with certain airlines when the easiest way to correct a booking mistake is to become a different person — on paper, anyway.
Earning today’s award for Greatest Show of Commitment to Avoiding Stupid Goddamn Fees is Manchester, England student Adam West (pictured) — known, until rather recently, by his birth name Adam Armstrong. According to a fascinating little saga recounted by across-the-pond outlets like The Telegraph, the student was supposed to fly to Ibiza with his girlfriend this week via low-cost Irish airline Ryanair. One problem: His girlfriend’s stepfather made the flight bookings for them and used “Adam West” — the name that the Airline Fee-Hacking Artist Formerly Known as Adam Armstrong listed as an in-joke on his Facebook profile. (Apparently he’s a big Batman fan.) The intrepid student thought he’d have to pay £220 (that’s $441, for stateside folks) in fees to have his surname changed for the ticket. So he simply saved himself the money and aggravation by using a free service (the deed poll) to legally change his surname to West. Ta-da! New identity, no fees.
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We have some good news and some bad news. First, the bad news: hell hath officially frozen over. This week Ryanair debuted their newest service feature, andhere's the good newsit's not another fee! The addition is actually just an official blog (named "Into the Blue") from the notoriously ultra low-cost airlines based in Ireland.
Why do we say hell's frozen over? Well, for years Ryanair maintained positions of not engaging with their customers, eschewing everything from social media to a website with even a shred of consideration for the user experience. But things have changed, beginning with Ryanair's joining Twitter in late 2013, which was quickly followed by a clean redesign of their site. The airline then ditched their annual calendar of bikini-clad flight attendants, and promised a more family-friendly approach in the future.
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Let's talk about Ryanair for a moment. Hold your groans, as this news from the Irish low-cost airline is actually kind of fun...albeit extraordinarily overdue.
Ryanair has officially joined Instagram.
As part of the airline's campaign to talk with instead of just at customers, they've slowly but surely tested the waters of social media, joining Twitter in late 2013 and ramping up promotion of their low fares via this channel over the couple years since. That must have proved successful enough to pay an employee to post a few photos here on there on Instagram. Welcome, @ryanair.
One day in, it's obvious Ryanair is embracing the channel, making all the newbie mistakes of one enthralled by the app (horizontal cropping, over-filtering, and posting blurry photos of old photos).
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The in-flight party is about to end for those heading to Ibiza, as Ryanair is adding some new rules and regulations to one of their routes. If you’re not familiar with the island of Ibiza over in Spain, think foam parties, packed dance clubs, beautiful people and lots of drunken messes. So it's reasonable to expect high spirits and fun-loving passengers aboard Ibiza flights.
Technically BYOB is very much frowned upon on flights; however, passengers usually are allowed to bring duty-free purchases with them onboard. That’s where things get a little sticky as, apparently, plenty of people were opening things during the flight. Back in 2013, a flight was even diverted to France, as drunken passengers were pretty much causing a scene.
The "no bringing alcohol" into the cabin rule only applies to one specific route right now. It’s those flying between Glasgow and Ibiza. Duty-free purchases are still allowed, but they just need to be checked — no in-flight bottle service. Keep it classy, people.
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A $15 for a flight from Europe to the United States sounds too good to be true. But that's what notoriously cheap Ryanair is hoping to do.
News came out yesterday that the Irish airline got approval to offer such low fares on one-way transcontinental flights from smaller European airports like London Stansted to key cities in the U.S. like New York, Boston and Miami.. Of course, this being Ryanair, an airline that really sticks it to you with baggage fees and onboard fees, will probably charge passengers other ridiculous fees to makeup for the low fare.
We're thinking boarding pass printing fees, carry-on fees (small fees for small carry-ons, big fees for big carry-ons), in-flight entertainment fees, lavatory fees and maybe even fees to recline your seat and take off your shoes. In addition to the existing food and drink fees and fees for different kinds of seats.
But if you're the kind of person who abstains from buying food and drink on a flight and can wear all of your trip outfits on the plane, then this fare might be just what your strained bank account was hoping for.
In the meantime, here are 5 tips to prepare yourself for the next great airfare deal.
Would you fly a $15 flight from Europe to the U.S., knowing that you'll be nickel-and-dimed the all the way through? Sound off in comments below!
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Above: Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary with his 'girls' for the 2012 calendar
It's the end of an era, folks. Irish ultra-low-cost airline Ryanair has declared an end to their popular flight attendant bikini calendars, and none will be produced for 2015.
To be frank, they weren't that well produced anyway; the themes were thin and reminiscent of the opening scenes of a porn movie, and heavy makeup didn't help the image. Nonetheless, the calendars did sell both online and onboard Ryanair flights (for 10 Euros each), even seeing some of the proceeds over to charity since the first printing in 2008.
Ryanair flight attendants will be keeping their clothes on this year (and for the foreseeable future) since the schlocky calendar doesn't fit with Ryanair's fresh and friendly approach, an approach which has already shown to be successful; The Telegraph UK reports that Ryanair has recently seen a 5% jump in bookings.
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Well, looky here. Ryanair is using 2014 to turn a new leaf, beginning with a refreshed website which surprisingly does not assault the eyes. In fact, the new look (above) is rather refreshing, employing cool blues and a touch of warm yellow, not unlike the shades you'd encounter on an ideal beach day.
Ryanair began flying way, way back in 1985. Their website didn't go live until 2000, and it took us until 2003 to book a flight on them (Roma-Ciampino to Barcelona-Girona for 19 Euro, if you're interested). Despite the long history, Ryanair maintained a policy of pairing the ugliest design with the least customer service possible; heck, they only joined Twitter last year, in 2013.
Let's take a quick look back at some of the earlier versions of their website, and the evolution of a sample airfare:
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An unordered list of things that we thought we knew about Ryanair and social media: Ryanair hates social media, when Ryanair does use social media it's only in a deeply hateable way, and - if the airline's PR shop is any guide - you have to hate other people to do social media on Ryanair's behalf. So basically, everything you'd expect from a company where the CEO spent years openly denigrating customers, at one point suggesting that recession-plagued Greeks could pay for flights with goats.
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The impossible is possible. At least that's the lesson we've learned today, after the notoriously miserly European low-cost carrier Ryanair announced it would ease its policies on carry-on luggage.
Specifically, Ryanair will now allow its flyers to carry on 10 kg of hand luggage plus a second carry-on piece measuring no more than 35x20x20cm (14"x8"x8"). While that is still a relatively small allowance, at least it's free.
Additionally, Ryanair is reducing their "punishment" fee for passengers who do not print their boarding passes at home. Now, instead of €70/$95 each, the fee for printing a pass at the airport will be a far more reasonable €15/$20.
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So much for naked farmers, it's that time of the year when flight attendants strip off their suit jackets and snap photos for annual calendars.
Today, Ryanair announced the availability of their crew calendar for 2014, all proceeds from which go to charity. For 2014, that charity is the Teenage Cancer Trust. The Ryanair calendar tradition goes back to 2008, and thus far the airline has managed to raise over 700,000 Euros in the six years.
The filming of the "making of" video and on-location shots took place in Ryanair's 55th base: Chania, Crete. Check it out:
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The traditional approach of Irish LCC Ryanair - reviled customer-demeaning, customer-exploiting airline that it is - has been to avoid social media except in those precise cases where it can be used as a platform for the airline's celebrated douchebaggery. When travel bloggers label you literally the world's worst airline, getting feedback from customers probably isn't high on your list.
We actually once wrote a post musing about what a Ryanair Twitter feed might look like. One possibility we imagined at the time: "@BritishAirways is teh suck lolol!!1!"
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Talking about what Ryanair charges for—and might charge for—gets kind of old, but their latest advertising initiative is a little more unique. They’re taking things outside of the cabin and away from the airport, as Ryanair is offering up the opportunity to slap your slogan, logo, or name right along the outside of one of their planes.
We’re not totally sold that this is going to happen, because after all this is the carrier that is constantly promising—or threatening—to add a pay-to-pee in-flight lavatory.