The British media are all atwitter about the supposed plans by Ryanair to install vertical seats—that is, standing-room-only seats—in the last 10 rows of its Boeing 737-800s. Price of airfare in one of those seats? Just 4 pounds sterling (about U.S.$6). And how, you ask, can they afford to do this? Why, by charging you to use the toilet.
Wait a minute… Didn’t they already float (and later flush) the idea of a loo fee only to be publicly remonstrated, humiliated, and pilloried? Yeah, kinda—except that Ryanair doesn’t know the meaning of the word humiliation. On the other hand, it seems not to know the meaning of a lot of words, like “safety,” “concern for our passengers,” and “common sense.”
Ryanair—Europe’s airline-you-love-to-hate counterpart to our own Spirit Air in the U.S.—has gone off half-cocked before. They recently dropped plans to charge obese people a fat tax. The airline’s boss, Michael O’Leary, once charged a disabled passenger $27 to check his wheelchair, according to the Independent. The airline’s strict no-refunds policy has raised the ire of its passengers to the point where the airline ran afoul of European aviation regulators.
As for the vertical seats, they are unlikely to fly. The Daily Mail quotes EU aviation officials as saying no such plans have been submitted. BBC interviewed a Boeing spokesman who said, in essence, “Ain’t never gonna happen.” Safety and all that rot, you know. Basically, this whole kerfuffle is another example of a loudmouth, self-important entrepreneur who just wanted to get his name in the papers again. Unfortunately, he succeeded.
Smart Traveler Mark Orwoll is also the international editor at Travel + Leisure.