Are $10 Flights to Europe Ryanair's Craziest Idea Ever?

The CEO of European discount carrier Ryanair says look for $10 trans-Atlantic flights between the U.S. and Europe just as soon as they can get their hands on some planes. That’s right, 10 bucks (well, one-way). However – and there is always a however with Ryanair’s zany ideas – don’t go looking for your passport just yet.

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The Anything-for-Publicity Factor

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary, a self-described “annoying prat” famous for saying what he thinks (he once called a customer an “idiot“) has generated massive publicity for the airline in the past and it’s quite possible that’s what this overseas adventure is all about. O’Leary admits acquiring the necessary aircraft is probably several years in the future. He further admits that these flights would need “a very high number of business or premium seats” in order to make money. As the moment, the number of business or premium seats on Ryanair flights is zero.

One more thing: O’Leary notes that trans-Atlantic flights would require significant fees including additional payments for such things a food and drink. And in that category – fees – Ryanair is doing just fine.

The Fee Factor

It’s cheap to fly Ryanair, no question about it. However, like its U.S. counterpart Spirit, there are plenty of fees (though not as many as there used to be). Here is just a sample:

  • Credit card transaction fee: Pay 2 percent of the entire transaction just to book a flight.
  • Seat fee: If you don’t mind the airline assigning you a spot, you pay nothing. If you wish to have any choice in the matter, a standard seat will set you back from $7 to $10. A marginally better seat (at least in terms of location) costs $20.
  • Food and drink: A bottle of water costs $5. But you can get a candy bar for about $1.50.
  • Check-in fee: If you fail to check in online, you will pay an extra $95.
  • Lap child fee: Children under 2 years who sit on a parent’s lap are charged $41.
  • Change fee: Up to $123. The similar-sounding ‘name change fee’ costs up to $219.

The Fantasy Factor

Will Ryanair trans-Atlantic fares ever become a reality? The respected Skift has referred to the venture as a “fantasy” which is pretty much what previous announcements turned out to be, including O’Leary’s pay-to-use-the-restrooms idea and his standing-room-only flights.

A better question might be, what will he come up with next?

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Published: February 27, 2014