“The passengers were unreasonable!”

The BBC News website has just reported an incident at the Belgian Liege airport, the scene of a fog-diverted, already 3 hour delayed, RYANAIR flight originally intended to go to Beauvais in northern France.

More than 100 passengers, mainly French tourists returning from holiday in Morocco, had staged a sit-in, refusing to leave the aircraft, and demanding that they be flown to their true destination.

The sit-in lasted almost 8 hours and a spokesman for the airport is reported to have said, “It was a very tense situation”, “Some of these people were very aggressive, very rude.”

Ryanair had offered bus transportation for the 350km (225 miles) journey which passengers from other diverted Ryanair planes had accepted but these passengers said,

“The plane did not land in Beauvais but in Liege without warning. Consequently, we refused to leave the plane,” Mylene Netange told AFP. Reda Yahiyaoui, a businessman who was travelling with his wife, a two-month-old baby and a three-year-old, said passengers had been left with no water and the toilets in the plane were locked. “The pilot left and he even left the cockpit door open,” he said.

Now, whatever any of us think about the merit or otherwise of the passengers’ sit-in in response to being delayed 3 hours in the first place and then, at 23.30 hours, being faced with another 5 hours or so bus journey to get home, what is interesting is the response of Ryanair whose spokesman, Stephen McNamara, said,

“The passengers were unreasonable and refused to follow the advice which would have allowed them to complete their journey,”

Going on to say, according the the BBC, that diverting planes to the nearest airport in case of fog is standard procedure, emphasising that the passengers would have been returned home by bus earlier if they had not protested. Mr McNamara apparently denied that the crew had abandoned the passengers, saying that they had stayed in the plane for an hour before leaving and adding that they only disembarked when passengers became “disruptive”.

So, no sense of sorrow at the sad experience for their customers from Ryanair then? No statement like,

We really regret that fact that fog caused us to divert this flight, and that on top of our failure in getting the flight away on time too. A 3 hour delay is unacceptable. There is no wonder the passengers were upset and we want to say how sorry we are for our part in adding to their painful experience. In fact we are so concerned, that we will be offering them full refunds for what we admit was a serious failure on our part to get them to their homes after their holiday, and we understand how much that would have detracted from the benefit of that holiday. We hope they will give us another chance.

But instead, the official response of Ryanair was, “The passengers were unreasonable”. There could be no better example of the detachment from the customer that seems to permeate the whole of our corporate world these days, let alone the low cost airline business. Ryanair are enormously profitable. Their business model is technically, financially, efficient. Ryanair is servceable, but it is emphatically not service-able and it is open to question how long they can go on with this approach. The history of the corporate world is littered with the corpses of companies that have lost sight of the humanity of their customers. Could Ryanair be yet another one of these? Time will tell.

Oh! And as an afterthought, here is a video that may help to put the whole thing in perspective:

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3 Responses to “The passengers were unreasonable!”

  1. Justin Souter November 23, 2010 at 9:50 am #

    Ryanair has an effective business model but their attitude to their passengers could well leave them vulnerable.

    If another carrier comes along that can compete with Ryanair and provide better customer service[!] then it will be interesting to see what happens…

    That said, it could be that Ryanair's "whole product" (e.g. tie-ups with airports) means that they have a lock on this segment.

    What will be the straw that breaks the camel's back I wonder…?

  2. Laurie Cansfield November 29, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    Enjoyed the post! Thought the following may be of interest while we're on the subject of customer service in the transport industries… (from my blog at <a href="http://www.lauriecansfield.com)..” target=”_blank”>www.lauriecansfield.com)...

    Got all bothered about my rights as a consumer today and emailed Nexus with some burning issues about the Metro system!

    I asked why there are no ticket machines that accept notes or cards. After all of the money they’ve spent on improving ‘your‘ metro, I’m still constantly bemused by the ticket-buying ritual of: 1) Taking money out of a cash machine, 2) Going to a newsagents to buy something I don’t really need/want/fancy just to get some change, and 3) Finally going to the station to buy a ticket. London Underground have got it right, why can’t we!

    My other issue was about penalty fares. Nexus, the traffic wardens of public transport, dish out fines all over the place, and that’s fine for habitual fare dodgers but I think it’s almost unethical to do that to a first time offender. Surely a fairer policy would be to give the first time offender the chance to buy a day ticket (plus a stern talking to, of course), and only fine them if they do it again? I’m convinced that not every fare dodger is evil, and those ‘named and shamed’ posters include a fair few people who only didn’t buy a ticket because they didn’t have time to go to a cash machine and then a newsagents and then to the platform and still get to work without being late!

    This was their reply…

    Thank you for your recent enquiry to the Nexus Customer Services mail box.

    I hope this information will fully answer your enquiry should you require further assistance please do not hesitate to make contact in the future.

    Nexus are in the process of procuring a new ‘Ticketing and Gating’ system from Scheidt and Bachmann.

    The new system will be capable of payments using standard British coins, English bank notes, credit cards and smart ticketing where travel payments can be topped up via the internet.

    The first ticket vending machines (TVMs) should be installed on the Metro system at Walkergate Metro station in April 2011 then system wide by the end of 2011.

    Hoping the ridership can bear with us during the transformation period from the old to the new.

    With regards to your second enquiry , Penalty Fare notices are issued when a person is travelling without a valid ticket . They have a right to appeal against the notice , and can contact the issuing company . Ircas . The contact details are as follows :-

    In writing to :-
    Ircas P O Box 212
    Petersfield
    GU32 9BQ

    TEL NO 08445448458 ( option 1 )

    OR http://www.ircas.co.uk

    Regards
    Nexus Communication Team

    So, quite a positive response really…

  3. Laurie Cansfield November 30, 2010 at 8:19 pm #

    On a travel-related note, thought you’d find this post from my own blog of interest…

    Got all bothered about my rights as a consumer today and emailed Nexus with some burning issues about the Metro system!

    I asked why there are no ticket machines that accept notes or cards. After all of the money they’ve spent on improving ‘your‘ metro, I’m still constantly bemused by the ticket-buying ritual of: 1) Taking money out of a cash machine, 2) Going to a newsagents to buy something I don’t really need/want/fancy just to get some change, and 3) Finally going to the station to buy a ticket. London Underground have got it right, why can’t we!

    My other issue was about penalty fares. Nexus, the traffic wardens of public transport, dish out fines all over the place, and that’s fine for habitual fare dodgers but I think it’s almost unethical to do that to a first time offender. Surely a fairer policy would be to give the first time offender the chance to buy a day ticket (plus a stern talking to, of course), and only fine them if they do it again? I’m convinced that not every fare dodger is evil, and those ‘named and shamed’ posters include a fair few people who only didn’t buy a ticket because they didn’t have time to go to a cash machine and then a newsagents and then to the platform and still get to work without being late!

    This was their reply – quite positive really!

    Thank you for your recent enquiry to the Nexus Customer Services mail box.

    I hope this information will fully answer your enquiry should you require further assistance please do not hesitate to make contact in the future.

    Nexus are in the process of procuring a new ‘Ticketing and Gating’ system from Scheidt and Bachmann.

    The new system will be capable of payments using standard British coins, English bank notes, credit cards and smart ticketing where travel payments can be topped up via the internet.

    The first ticket vending machines (TVMs) should be installed on the Metro system at Walkergate Metro station in April 2011 then system wide by the end of 2011.

    Hoping the ridership can bear with us during the transformation period from the old to the new.

    With regards to your second enquiry , Penalty Fare notices are issued when a person is travelling without a valid ticket . They have a right to appeal against the notice , and can contact the issuing company . Ircas . The contact details are as follows :-

    In writing to :-

    Ircas P O Box 212

    Petersfield

    GU32 9BQ

    TEL NO 08445448458 ( option 1 )

    OR http://www.ircas.co.uk

    Regards

    Nexus Communication Team

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