Monday, 10 August 2009

Jobs I wouldn’t want to do

I work in a situation where I have to deal with angry customers, and occasionally have to give them the answer they don’t want, so I know how angry people can get.

However, the poor station staff at Kings Cross this morning were getting far worse than I have ever experienced and they were trying to only give out good information.

Trains had been severely delayed due to “Overhead wire damage in the Doncaster area”, and by the time I arrived at Kings Cross at 10:30 arrivals due at 08:00 had still not arrived, in fact there were no trains in the station at all.

Over the course of the next 60 minutes a number of trains did arrive and eventually start departing.

It was quite obvious that what had happened was beyond the control of the staff at Kings Cross station, who along with trying to let passengers know what was happening, were also trying to keep an increasingly dangerously full station safe.

Some people though, were still hurling abuse at the poor station staff and accusing them of deliberately delaying their journey (despite the fact there were no trains for them to be travelling on.)

This included one particularly unpleasant person who had been queuing up near platform 2 for over an hour only for his train to then leave from platform 7 (despite all the announcements telling everyone to remain on the concourse as platforms would be subject to change), shouting at a member of staff that it was his personal fault that the train had arrived on a different platform.

I did wonder how he would have reacted if the member of staff had said it had done it on purpose just to spite him, though I think he would have been detailed with cleaning up the bloody remains of a self-exploding passenger.

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Saturday, 28 February 2009

Perhaps I’ll keep quiet from now on

Back in September (27th September – shop till you drop) I jokingly suggested that as Ryanair were trying to squeeze more money out of the passengers perhaps they should try charging £1 to use the toilets.

Now Michael O’Leary, the Panto style villan of the airline industry (boo, hiss etc) has openly suggested charging £1 to use the toilets on his flights.

I won’t make any more suggestions on things the budget airlines could do to save even more money, they appear to be already coming true. Speedy Evac anyone?

Full story on the BBC News Website - Ryanair mulls charge for toilets

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Monday, 23 February 2009

Burying bad news

With their usual level of contempt for their customers, Ryanair have managed to slide out one piece of troublesome news covered by a bigger and noisier, literally, story.

Whilst most people have been discussing the horrific plans to allow mobile phones to be used on Ryanair flights (can’t people be out of contact for just a couple of hours, can’t everyone else be spare their inane chatter for the length of the flight!), another piece of news was release.

By the end of 2009, Ryanair will do away with the checkin desks at all their airports. All passengers will have to checkin online prior to leaving their home, or their hotel for the return leg. Which begs the question, what happens if you don’t have access to a printer at your campsite. Do you have to find an internet café and pay there to checkin? Are Ryanair thinking of setting up rip-off priced internet stalls in place of their checkin desks at airports for those whose relaxing beach break doesn’t involve visiting an internet café?

This naturally leads to the question, what next – you can only print your boarding pass on special Ryanair branded paper which you have to buy in advance, perhaps a final and complete ban on luggage (which is the subtext of what they are trying to achieve) so that they can cut their costs even further?

Those cheap Ryanair flights really aren’t what they once were.

The following is from Reuters 21/02/2009:
LONDON, Feb 21 (Reuters)
- Europe's largest low-fare airline Ryanair said on Saturday it planned to save costs by closing all its airport check-in desks by the end of the year and have passengers check in online instead.

"All we will have is a bag drop where passengers can drop off their luggage, otherwise everything will be done online," Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary told the Daily Telegraph.

He said the savings would be passed on to passengers in the form of lower fares.

Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara told Reuters that 75 percent of the airline's passenger already used its online check-in services.

"We are trying to encourage the remaining 25 percent to do the same," he said.

"Hopefully by the end of the year we will have bag drop-in areas instead, which will be manned."

The airline would continue to have staff running ticket desks at airports, he said.

The change would lead to layoffs but the airline used many third-party staff at airports and would attempt to limit the effect of the reduction.

"We are hoping the job cuts will be minor," McNamara said.

(Additional reporting by Carmel Crimmins in Dublin)
(Reporting by Tim Castle; editing by Chris Pizzey)

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Friday, 23 January 2009

The (other) hidden costs of Ryanair

Flying Ryanair you always expect there to be hidden extras.

A fiver here to checkin at the airport rather than on-line, £10 for a bag, £20 for a decent meal (£25 if you want Oxygen in the event of an emergency – not yet, but they are probably considering it!)

However, I’ve just been stung by yet another hidden Ryanair cost, caused by their happiness to change the schedule at will.

I’m due to be going to Granada in March, and originally my flight would have been at a 5pm, meaning I could go into work in the morning, leave at lunch to be up at the airport before 3.

However, last week Ryanair e-mailed to say they had made a “minor” amendment to the flight times. A half hour, or maybe an hour I thought, oh No, I forgot this is Ryanair, the company that thinks that 100Km from the airport to the city you think you are flying to is a “short distance.”

The change was more brutal than any I’ve encountered before. Rather than leaving at 5pm the flight now goes at 8am. Checkin is a 6, and for someone living in South London, and who doesn’t drive, that’s the 3am night bus into town and the first train of the morning.

So, not only do I have to take an extra day’s leave, I now have to consider do I get up at 3am and get the night bus, or do I stay in a hotel and get up later. In the end my brain overruled my wallet and I decided to take the hit and pay for a night in a hotel, except there are no cheap hotels anywhere near Stansted, that aren’t a 20 minute expensive cab ride away, so I’ve ended up with a compromise. A night in the Travelodge at Liverpool Street station with two hours extra sleep on coming from home, and the first train of the morning to the Airport.

Thanks Ryanair, I’ve just doubled the cost of my flight!

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