Five of Ryanair's zaniest ideas

Low-cost flights to America are only the latest of Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary's outrageous plans that never actually materialised.

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 07 Apr 2015

Ryanair appears to be having difficulty making its mind up. On Monday the budget airline said its board had approved low-cost transatlantic flights, tantalising punters with the prospect of reaching the States for only  €10 (£8). Today, however, it announced it had spoken too soon.

'The Board of Ryanair Holdings Plc wishes to clarify that it has not considered or approved any transatlantic project and does not intend to do so', the firm said in a statement to the stock exchange that almost certainly wasn't written by outspoken boss Michael O'Leary. Just when we were getting our hopes up...

This is not exactly the first time O'Leary et al have made a public show of a policy, only for it to come to nothing (indeed, the airline has been making noises about flying to the States on a shoestring since 2007), so it might be wise to take what they say with a pinch of salt. Here are five of our well-seasoned favourites from the last few years.

1. Standing room only

In 2006, Ryanair unveiled a prototype 'perch seat', which is to say a space on the plane where one can lean back and get strapped in for take off and landing. It later said this was only a 'joke', but in 2010 O'Leary told ITV's How to Beat the Budget Airlines that the company was actually going ahead with safety tests. 

'Boeing can put a man on the moon, so I am sure they are able to make these a success', Ryanair's spokesman Stephen McNamara said, but the legroom-slashing plan was later shot down by European regulators.

2. In-flight porn

'Hotels around the world have it, so why wouldn't we?' O'Leary said in 2011, about the idea of introducing 'adult' entertainment onto his planes. The plan was never for it to be broadcast on the backs of seats, in full sight of all the impressionable little kids on their way to Alicante, of course. 

Rather, it would be a channel to which one could discreetly connect one's phone. For some reason, it didn't work out.

3. Pay toilets

O'Leary's ethos has always been that charging for 'extras' like baggage and food is fair because that way people who don't use them don't have to pay for them. The logical extension, of course, was charging to use the toilets.

‘Passengers using train and bus stations are already accustomed to paying to use the toilet so why not on airplanes?’, O'Leary said in 2009. 'That way people might actually have to spend a pound to spend a penny'. As yet, nothing has come of this one either...

4. Flights to Auschwitz

One of the reasons budget airlines are so cheap is that they avoid the big national airports and international hubs in favour of more out-the-way locations. Given that 'Europe's favourite airline' has proved itself excellent at spotting gaps in the travel market, it's perhaps unsurprising that it thought of ferrying Israeli schoolchildren to Auschwitz.

'It seems that every Israeli child has to go to Poland to go and see Auschwitz,' Ryanair's deputy chief executive Howard Miller said in 2013. 'We can help them with that.'

Good taste, and the apparent reluctance of Israeli authorities to let Ryanair fly to and from the country, has so far scuppered the plan.

5. Business class seats

Okay, so O'Leary has actually gone ahead with this one, but given how incongruous the combination of Ryanair and big-spending business passengers is, it's worth including. Introducing 'Business plus' fares last year is one the airline's most significant recent changes, alongside O'Leary's efforts to make Ryanair more 'cuddly'.

For an additional £60, business customers get priority boarding, a fast track through airport security, extra leg room and a postively lavish 20kg baggage allowance. Ryanair credits business traffic as being one of the reasons its revenues rose 17% in the last quarter of 2014. Stranger things have happened... but not much stranger.

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