Flying Low.
November 2, 2008 2:52 PM   Subscribe

Budget Airlines and sites which book their flights are plentiful. Sterling, Zoom Airways, XL Airlines, Oasis Hong Kong, and a whole slew of others, may have gone down (refunds possible), but there's a new Muslim friendly airline on its way and Ryanair is launching £8 flights to the US.

Even taking taxes and fees into account and Jet fuel being down 35% in the past month... how?
posted by gman (42 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Flying on Ryanair is bad enough when it's a 45 minute hop across the Channel to Paris. They'd have to pay me £8 to fly trans-Atlantic.
posted by afx237vi at 3:09 PM on November 2, 2008

> Ryanair is launching £8 flights to the US.

...and £2,500 economy class back home. [rimshot]
posted by ardgedee at 3:16 PM on November 2, 2008

I had the ... ahem ... the pleasure of flying Laker Airways in its heyday, and Tower Air literally on the day before it went bankrupt.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:51 PM on November 2, 2008

My buddies all got caught down in Vegas after a 3 day bachelor party.
posted by gman at 3:53 PM on November 2, 2008

RyanAir makes money several ways including kickbacks on airport taxes & transport, and last minute ticket prices, but key is often serving an airport that few others serve. I'll be surprised if they fly directly to NYC or Boston. They could however serve one new airport halfway between, claim access to both, capture all their various side deals, and develop dedicated cadre of wealthy business people who'll pay last minute rates exceeding NYC & Boston rates. I suppose they could alternatively just run a casino on the plane.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:05 PM on November 2, 2008

Looks like Ryan Air might be getting a lot of 'stimulus' from poor Americans who can't afford to fly retail.

I hope that the hostels and police precincts in the destination cities are capable of handling the swell...

(And I flew Ryan from Marseille to Stanstead, last year. I can't even begin to wonder about the horror of spending several HOURS on one of their planes. Be prepared to furnish your own toilet paper, folks! And extra charges for baggage over 5 kilos. And refreshments doled out by the peanut...)

(The only way this could really be worth it, is if they offered direct flights to Amsterdam.)
posted by vhsiv at 4:06 PM on November 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

To clarify, RyanAir's one way rates are eventually as high as their competitors round trip rates. If you buy early, then you'll save a bundle. If you need a last minute flight, then you'll pay through the nose, but being able to show up whip out the company credit card, and board is incredibly valuable to many people. Btw, If you miss your flight, then your old ticket is worthless, and you're stuck buying last minute again. I assume they take the airport taxes for themselves if you don't show.

RyanAir may also engage in some minimal gambling during flight, but nothing like the vacation airlines like ThompsonFly.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:14 PM on November 2, 2008

Perhaps as good a place as any to share Lifehacker's Five Best Travel Sites for Cheap Tickets.
posted by dawson at 4:38 PM on November 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've always wanted to see the RyanAir complaints department. I imagine a bank of old telephones with their ringers muted in a Dublin portacabin - and bunch of people who tip the sacks of mail into a large shredder - stopping occasionally to open a letter and laugh at it. If they find something really important looking by chance then they will forward it to Michael O'Leary who will laugh at it as well.
posted by rongorongo at 4:39 PM on November 2, 2008 [3 favorites]

Lets see. What does RyanAir fly?


And that's it. I'm sorry, they'd need to pay *me* about $500USD to get me to fly across the Atlantic in a 738, and I'd *really* want to see the last inspection and ETOPS certifications. It's a long haul for a 738 between Gander and Reykjavik, then to Shannon.

And that's basically how they're going to fly. 738 Standard, with 162 pax (and they normally seat 189) is 1990 nm. So, it's not going to be a nonstop. The HGW version makes 2940nm, which *just* makes it across the pond, but you're still refuling at Gander (and they won't get that range with their normal seating.

So, yeah, I'll stick to AA 777s for the crossing, thanks.
posted by eriko at 4:48 PM on November 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

Sylhet Airlines with a focus on Muslim clients. Smart marketing! They will rake in the money, no doubt.
posted by nickyskye at 4:52 PM on November 2, 2008

eriko: "Mr O'Leary is expected to announce plans to buy more than 50 extra aircraft, as part of plans to beat the recession by undercutting more expensive rivals."

- from the last link. I'm assuming that means they'll buy something capable of the distance?
posted by Leon at 4:56 PM on November 2, 2008

RyanAir makes money several ways including kickbacks on airport taxes & transport, and last minute ticket prices, but key is often serving an airport that few others serve. I'll be surprised if they fly directly to NYC or Boston. They could however serve one new airport halfway between

Didn't Tweed–New Haven just lose scheduled service within the past few months?
posted by oaf at 5:03 PM on November 2, 2008

Yes, but that's going to cost them real money -- because now they have to maintain two different aircraft, and crosstrain pilots, and all of that.

The rule of thumb for the low cost carriers -- save every dime you can on process. Look at the successful low costs carriers. They fly one aircraft type. (Often, the 737).

Warren Buffet has a simple rule. He's bought, and held, SWA stock. He has a standing order -- sell it the minute that SWA acquires anything but a 737. (I presume he'd rethink if Boeing stopped making them, but I seriously doubt they will -- it's the world's best selling airlines.)

It's possible that they charter these flights at the start, but this is RyanAir. They'll fly it as a one-stop at Reykjavik. And they're going to beat you sensless with luggage charges.
posted by eriko at 5:06 PM on November 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Reminds me of Belkin Airlines on the old The Odd Couple sitcom.

Felix: "Is this Belkin Airlines?"

Belkin: "Uh.. are you from the Better Business Bureau?"

Felix: "No."

Belkin: "Well then I'm Belkin."

Felix: "What kind of plane is it?"

Belkin: "It's a modified 727."

Felix: "What do you mean 'modified'?"

Belkin: "It was just painted."
posted by Zambrano at 5:33 PM on November 2, 2008

eriko, do you have a source for the Warren Buffett anecdote? I really really want it to be true.
posted by Sfving at 5:48 PM on November 2, 2008

How can RyanAir have rates that low? Aren't the taxes higher than that, especially on the UK side?
posted by smackfu at 5:52 PM on November 2, 2008

so, I'm guessing....

cost of flight $12 (approx conversion price)
2 bags $400 ($100/each per leg) - about 2X their charge in Europe.
Lunch $15
Snack $5
2 drinks $20
Airport check in $20
Priority Board $20
Movies/IFE $30
Tax/fees $200

Total Cost $722

posted by krautland at 6:10 PM on November 2, 2008

But what if:

cost of flight $12 (approx conversion price)
2 bags $400 ($100/each per leg) - about 2X their charge in Europe.
Lunch $15
Snack $5
2 drinks $20
Airport check in $20
Priority Board $20
Movies/IFE $30
Tax/fees $200

Total Cost $722 $247
posted by gman at 6:32 PM on November 2, 2008

The €10 flights, which could begin by the end of next year

So more like pre-announcing. Actually, it kind of sounds like they're trying to distract people from their disappointing earnings.
posted by smackfu at 6:41 PM on November 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

No way am I getting on a long haul budget Ryanair flight. You'll have to kill me first. That would probably be the end result anyway.
posted by saturnine at 6:46 PM on November 2, 2008

God, I'm so sick of RyanAir bashing.

If you don't like them, DON'T FLY THEM!!!.

They fulfil a service. And, if used correctly and you book far enough in advance, they save you a ton of money.

I flew from Rome to London for TWO POUNDS (plus taxes), over five years ago. It was frickin' cheaper than the bus to the airport!!!

What do you expect?

Sheesh... Some people bitch about anything.
posted by Mephisto at 7:03 PM on November 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

But what if:

cost of flight $12 (approx conversion price)
2 bags $400 ($100/each per leg) - about 2X their charge in Europe.
Lunch $15
Snack $5
2 drinks $20
Airport check in $20
Priority Board $20
Movies/IFE $30
Tax/fees $200

Total Cost $722 $247

it's like playing the lottery. the odds are so low you have to be delusional to even try, yet all the participants think somehow they must be the ones to get it right. ryanair has seats that do not recline. you are on your own if you miss a flight and paying a walk-up fare will cost you three times the amount a comparable ticket elsewhere would cost you, which they can do because they often fly to isolated airfields. only those booking well in advance and having the luck of getting the very limited advertised price contingent will save anything and even then I'd question the value.

the average passenger pays twice what they would pay elsewhere when using these guys and they get shafted for it. ryanair is an airline for suckers.
posted by krautland at 7:06 PM on November 2, 2008

But do they make popcorn?
posted by The Whelk at 7:17 PM on November 2, 2008

I've had nothing but good experience on Ryanair. Flown a few times from Germany and Italy to England and loved the very cheap flight. I'd fly across the pond with them, certainly.
posted by msbrauer at 7:35 PM on November 2, 2008

The only Ryanair flight I've been on was from Manchester to Dublin about 20 years ago. We got on a little two-engine plane at 6 am, and they spent an hour trying to start one of the engines. Eventually they brought out this machine (I think it said, "Start, ya hoor!" on the side) with a big electric motor that turned the propeller until the motor caught. After the huge clouds of brown smoke had cleared away, a man with a very pleasant Irish accent came on the intercom and said, "Hello, this is Paddy Flanagan, your pilot. It seems we've had a wee bit of trouble with one of the engines, but sure we're all right now." And off we went. While this was all kind of amusing, it didn't exactly fill me with confidence. It might have been a fairly cheap flight, too.
posted by sneebler at 8:39 PM on November 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

krautland : I've never had terribly bad experiences with RyanAir. I love the one way fair flexibility of all such airlines, but I've only found RyanAir cheap enough to buy multiple contingency return tickets. I don't feel that average passengers pay more using RyanAir, but RyanAir makes money by owning or getting kickbacks from all the associated businesses, like transport. You just can't miss your flight.

dawson, I fear that life hacker article missed the most important search tool,
posted by jeffburdges at 9:53 PM on November 2, 2008 [3 favorites]

Ryanair was nice for 2-3 hour hops around Europe, I didnt even mind taking a 1.5 hour bus ride after the flight because it was jsut so damn cheap.

But Im 6'5, and even 2 hours in those sardine seats gets to be torture, 8 hours across the ocean literally just made me curl into a ball and rock back and forth...somebody please tell me its going to be ok...
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:09 PM on November 2, 2008

Business class includes blowjobs apparently.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:14 AM on November 3, 2008 [3 favorites]

I fly RyanAir about 15 times a year, mostly between UK & Ireland but also to Spain, Italy Germany.... Because I book in advance these days most flights costs me just taxes so about $50 return. I've managed 3 flights for £5, with the special offers.
My daughter is now going to Uni in Dublin and comes home about every 6 weeks. It is literally no frills, and I have only ever had problems flying into Cork city due to fog, which, let's face it, even The O Leary can't fix.
RyanAir bashing is often warranted, I hate the attitude to customer service, but the opportunities it has opened up to me and my family are priceless.

I recently booked Aer Lingus now that they have started to try to compete so we'll see.
posted by Wilder at 12:30 AM on November 3, 2008

Ryanair are not going to be flying the Atlantic anytime soon. Their CEO was just on BBC TV saying exactly that, and claims he has no idea where yesterday's story saying they were came from.
posted by bap98189 at 12:58 AM on November 3, 2008

My husband spent a sweet couple of years doing software development for a startup all-business-class airline here in the States that did nothing but fly to London. He got a dirt cheap employee rate to fly to London and we did so, MANY times, using Ryanair to go from London to wherever else. Having at times flown Southwest in the States, I didn't find Ryanair to be all that different. Cheap rates, no frills, and we found the lottery ticket hawking to be kind of funny. Never had a hitch, never had a problem. Just like flying cheap here in the US, we read other customer accounts, were careful about baggage allowance, bought our own snacks and drinks, and showed up on time. We just booked the $199 each way sale on Aer Lingus to Dublin in the spring, and plan on using Ryanair to do a hop out to Germany while we're there.
posted by ersatzkat at 3:38 AM on November 3, 2008

Yeah, see, I think of airlines as a way to get to my destination and not much else. At least I used to when I was spending years at a time on the road. Most long-haul travel in less developed nations is uncomfortable to say the least. Having said that, these days I CAN tell you the difference between, say, the now defunct, reasonably good Zoom Airways and Air Transat. I'm 3 apples high and I can't fit into a Transat seat. It's worse than a bus. Truth be told, I'd take a 24 hour Indian (NOT Chinese) train ride any day over a flight. Actually, I'd give my right nut to be on an Indian train right now.
posted by gman at 4:39 AM on November 3, 2008

I fly a lot. Long haul, short haul, international and domestic. In economy, I have noticed the following:

Budget airlines: cheaper, more crowded, newer planes, less baggage, better entertainment, more fees

Mainstream airlines: old planes, better food, poor entertainment systems, more willing to let you slide by with a 28 kilo bag.

The seats are a crapshot, usually too small, with some exceptions that seem to have nothing to do with whether it is a budget airline or not.
posted by Nothing at 4:58 AM on November 3, 2008

There's an airstrip in the Catskills that's about to become NYC's fourth 'airport'.
posted by i_cola at 5:12 AM on November 3, 2008

Southwest already tries to call Islip on Long Island a NYC airport.
posted by smackfu at 6:51 AM on November 3, 2008

just to confirm:
All much ado about nothing.

Ryanair denies reports of US flights

Quote credit, e-tid:

Ryanair has no immediate plans to offer US flights for £8, despite media reports that it could start transatlantic operations as early as next year.
Reports ahead of the publication of Ryanair’s half-year trading figures, issued today, claimed chief executive Michael O’Leary would buy extra aircraft to operate two-class transatlantic routes, with the cheapest economy seats being subsidised by ‘very expensive’ business class.

A spokeswoman confirmed Ryanair was considering the idea, but said it had no firm plans as yet.

‘It’s not an immediate plan, but is something that has been talked about for the future. We have set no time frame,’ she said.
posted by krautland at 10:32 AM on November 3, 2008

krautland - you're ruining EVERYTHING.
posted by gman at 11:21 AM on November 3, 2008

Wasn't the original report a direct quote from their CEO?
posted by smackfu at 12:15 PM on November 3, 2008

krautland - you're ruining EVERYTHING.

well, I am german.
posted by krautland at 7:20 PM on November 3, 2008

There's an airstrip in the Catskills that's about to become NYC's fourth 'airport'.

Gander will do. It's the right side of the Atlantic, isn't it?
posted by Skeptic at 11:47 AM on November 4, 2008

NYC's airports are so mismanaged and ill-run that they cause chain-effects nationwide. JFK is always a nightmare, LaGuardia a study in soviet incompetence, and Newark barely knows it's an airport (plus try getting 2 heavy bags from Newark into Manhattan! Try! It is fraught with tears.)

I never thought I would look at Heathrow and it's constant Bladerunner-Recreation Society as a model of efficiency and poise. Just getting these three, major, important hubs into semi-decent shape would make air travel so much more pleasant, but I don't think that's in the cards.
posted by The Whelk at 11:30 PM on November 4, 2008

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