IT'LL NEVER FLY

Low-cost airlines Here's a really good idea: start an airline where you refer to your customers as 'cattle' and often treat them as such.

by
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013
Low-cost airlines Here's a really good idea: start an airline where you refer to your customers as 'cattle' and often treat them as such; where you give them a miserly baggage allowance of 15 kilos; where you fly to airports often tens of miles away from a city; where you have to run to scramble for a decent seat as there are no allocated berths. A hot towel? Are you joking? Welcome to low-cost airlines. The flipside of this woeful customer service is, of course, the cheapness of flights, which greatly undercut traditional flag-carriers with their big overheads. It's all a long way from the 1920s origins of air transport, when the accent was on luxury and butlers served chilled Martinis. The grand-daddy of low-cost air travel is Southwest Airlines of the US, but cut-price operators, led by Ryanair, have conquered Europe too. By late this decade, Ryanair forecasts overtaking Lufthansa, Air France and British Airways in the European short-haul market. Low-cost airlines have changed the way we travel, making popping over to Dinard for the weekend a cinch. But don't expect a refund if you can't fly – as Ryanair's CEO Michael O'Leary warns: 'We don't fall over ourselves if they say "My granny fell ill". What part of no refund don't they understand? You're not getting a refund, so f*** off.'

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