Ryanair, the ultra-budget Irish airline known for its low fares and numerous surcharges, confirmed yesterday what had long been rumored: It is serious about charging passengers to use the toilet. If it goes forward, it would be just the latest in a long line of airline industry fees that have dogged travelers over the past several years. The news comes on the heels of yesterday’s announcement from Spirit Airlines that it would begin charging passengers a carry-on luggage fee of up to $45. When I wrote the Spirit blog item yesterday, I said the only fee that could be worse would be a toilet charge.
Well, that didn’t take long, did it?
Travelers who don’t plan to fly Ryanair (or Spirit) shouldn’t be too smug. Airline fees usually get their start when one airline takes the bold step to add them. The other airlines generally watch and wait. Depending on the public reaction, the first airline may rescind the surcharge. Or, if the move proves successful, competitor airlines can be expected to charge their customers an equivalent fee. The pattern has held true for every airline surcharge from checked luggage to inflight meals.
Ryanair’s spokesman, Stephen McNamara, told the Mail that the fee would be either one euro or one pound sterling ($1.34 and $1.51, respectively). But before the airline can begin charging, McNamara said, it will need to work with Boeing to reconfigure its aircraft.
“By charging for the toilets, we are hoping to change passenger behavior so that they use the bathroom before or after the flight,” McNamara told the Mail. “That will enable us to remove two out of three of the toilets and make way for at least six extra seats on board.”
The airline did not give a timeline, but McNamara was quoted as saying it would not begin before the fall.
Mark Orwoll is Travel + Leisure's international editor.