Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ryanair – The World’s First Completely Self-Service Airline

We’re beginning to think that Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has been drinking too much of his own Kool-Aid.

From the Los Angeles Times:
“Ryanair... Europe’s largest low-cost airline, will bar passengers from traveling with anything other than hand luggage as it seeks to cut costs.
Ryanair plans to offer an ‘unlimited’ allowance for carry-on bags ... while abolishing checked luggage from next spring.
‘We’re going to move away from check-in luggage to more carry-on luggage,’ O’Leary said. ‘This isn't the end of civilization as we know it, it only sounds revolutionary. I can assure you it’s not.’
Ryanair is already scrapping airport check-in desks for passengers from Oct. 1, compelling people to register for flights via the company’s Web site. According to O’Leary’s new rule on baggage, passengers must carry all belongings onto the plane themselves and only when overhead lockers become full will items be stowed in the cargo hold.”

The airline is basically being converted into a complete self-serve operation. Think of the history of grocery checkout. Originally, you’d enter a store and ask the clerk for everything you wanted. Then came stores where you could wander the aisles, choosing your own products, and upon checkout a cashier would unload your groceries and total your bill. Next came the conveyor belts, but a store employee would still unload your cart onto the check-out belt and the cashier would ring it up. Soon, you were emptying your own cart onto the belt, and sometimes bagging your own groceries. Now, you can go completely self-serve, without interacting with another person (unless the flashing lights go off and the nasty voice tells you there’s a problem).

We can see that happening with Ryanair. Some day soon, you’ll purchase your ticket online; print your own boarding pass; schlep yourself and your bags through security; scan your boarding pass at an automated turnstile; throw your bags in the belly of an airplane; find a seat by yourself; watch a recorded safety briefing; break out your credit card to go take a pee; deplane upon landing; search through the cargo hold for your bags; and continue on your jolly journey.

Each Ryanair flight will then only require three employees – two in the cockpit and a hall monitor in the cabin. No check-in personnel, no baggage handlers, no one collecting boarding passes.

Is this an airline you’d want to fly?