Friday, February 27, 2009

News Item

From Special Kansas City Irish Fest Midair Micturation Correspondent Rory O'Connor:
Ryanair: You May Soon Have To 'Pay To Pee'

USA Today- Ryanair could begin charging passengers to use the toilet. That's direct from the mouth of Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary, who made the comments this morning to BBC television. "One thing we have looked at in the past and are looking at again is the possibility of maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door so that people might actually have to spend a pound (about $1.43) to spend a penny in future," O'Leary told the BBC while being asked about the carrier's recent plan to do away with passenger check-in counters. The Belfast Telegraph writes O'Leary "is touting the idea of putting a coin slot on the toilet door as a means of raising ‘discretionary revenue.' "

"We are always looking at ways of making air travel cheaper," O'Leary adds, according to Britain's Sky News. A BBC anchor wondered what the airline would do if a passenger boarded a flight without cash and then needed to use the bathroom? O'Leary didn’t seem concerned, saying: "I don't think there is anybody in history that has got on board a Ryanair aircraft with less than a pound." Still, O'Leary's pay-toilet statement stands out even by the standards at Ryanair -– a carrier that's already notorious for stripping away all but the most basic of passenger services.

The comments already are stirring up controversy. The Times of London writes Ryanair pilots are "aghast" at the idea, which they think is seriously being considered. One pilot even wondered how many toilet tokens the pilots would get from their employer on flights they work, according to the Times. But, would it even be legal to charge fliers to use the bathroom? Apparently so, says the Times, which talked to an official at Britain's Civil Aviation Authority. A spokesman tells the Times: "The situation is that there is no legal requirement for an aircraft to have a toilet onboard, so if an airline does have a toilet they can charge to use it."

Still, at least one travel industry observer wonders if the move might backfire. "Once again, Ryanair is putting profit before the comfort of its customers," Rochelle Turner, head of research at Which? Holiday, tells Sky News. "Charging people to go to the toilet might result in fewer people buying overpriced drinks on board, though -- that would serve Ryanair right," she adds. to pee, huh? Let's see...if Irish Fest has 50 port-a-potties and 100,000 people over the course of the weekend, at a buck a piddle...

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