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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.
Her dad, Tom Cruise, has his own private jet. But when Isabella Cruise heads off for a summer vacation in Europe, she does as the plebes do and flies Ryanair.
According to Radar, Isabella was visiting friends in London and then hopped a Ryanair flight to Florence. Considering that Ryanair doesn't even operate at Florence airport, it's possible that she flew from London-Stansted to either Ancona or Perugia, then caught a bus or train into Florence. Either way, we're sort of impressed that she flew the low-cost carrier. That's the equivalent of Willow Smith taking a Greyhound bus.
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One of the world’s best airlines (when comes to ancillary revenue) is getting ready to add another option for you to tack onto your flight total. Fair warning that this is still very much speculation, but Ryanair just might be flipping the switch on in-flight WiFi sooner rather than later.
There’s no decision yet, and they’re still working behind the scenes to determine what company would even provide the in-flight magic. It does sound like LiveTV is just one of the groups in the running for the contract. Apparently, Ryanair isn't exactly sold on the idea as they don’t know if the installation costs will be totally worth it in the long run.
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The European Union is considering changing the regulations that govern how airlines have to compensate/assist/not-screw-over passengers that they've stranded. Whether it's because they don't like their airline industry or because they do like their passengers is an open question, but changes they're nonetheless making.
The E.U. is already a relatively OK place to be a passenger. Under EU261, airlines have to refund ticket prices for cancellations and long delays, plus there are all kinds of rules about how geographically close airlines have to get their passengers when flights are diverted to alternate airports.
The implementation of those rules is admittedly imperfect. The refund rule sometimes ends with passengers taking airlines to court, and the geography regulation has its own loopholes (Ryanair once kind of hilariously met the rule by dropping passengers off on a nearby island rather than the one they were bound for. Close enough!) But at a minimum, the E.U. has been trying.
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Ryanair does not necessarily have the best PR and communications shop in the airline industry. The Irish LCC has been known to respond to negative press by throwing childish hissy fits, and its understanding of social media outreach involves insulting customers.
Part of the problem is that Ryanair PR is one of the hardest jobs in the world, since they've got to justify nonsense like instituting intentionally grating fees and selling heart attack-stricken victims soda. But it's hard not to suspect that another part of the problem is simple bad staffing. No one says the job is easy, but surely this stuff isn't helping. Right?
This. This right here. This is what we're talking about when we say we're giving up on the debate over Ryanair and its aggressive douchebaggery. The airline goes out of its way to insult its customers, and yet finds itself rewarded with consistent profits. So why shouldn't it treat its own staff in the same disrespectful way?
The question kind of answers itself, doesn't it?