Anne Perkins has her knickers in a knot over Ryanair. They are devilish, she implies, or at least Michael O’Leary is. And who, might I ask, disagrees with her on this? Certainly not Satan’s right-hand man O’Leary himself.

Ryanair has had to cancel more than 2,000 flights, inconveniencing 300,000 passengers, because of a screw-up over rotas, O’Leary announced at the AGM in Dublin.

Perkins declares: ‘O’Leary and his business are the dark side of Europe’s psyche: in a kind of medieval morality tale, we love what they do even as we acknowledge the dislikable way in which they do it.’

Do you get that? It is your fault your flight was cancelled. You, with your desire for cheap flights and affordable family holidays. Why can’t you just be happy with Bournemouth like it was in the good old days when only the proper people could fly?

Well, not everyone has a country house in France they can get the Eurostar to, unlike a large chunk of the Guardian office. I am just guessing here – I could be wrong – but I sense I am right. So we get on Ryanair planes at 4am wearing flip-flops and shorts and looking very pasty-white indeed. I’m not going to apologise for the flip-flops and I am not going to apologise for the cheap flight either.

It is indeed a medieval morality tale. It is exactly the same if we overlook the fact that there were no planes in medieval times, O’Leary is not a lord, his pilots are not serfs, and no one is coerced to work for them and no one has to fly for them. If we ignore all these differences it is indeed exactly the same as medieval feudal exploitation.

Again, Perkins declares (one imagines her upon a plinth): ‘This is the monstrous offspring in the marriage between deregulation and consumerism.’ You betcha! Although there still is a fair bit of regulation from the EU, but again let’s just ignore that.

Of course consumers love cheaper flights – I remember the tales of yore about how much it cost to fly back to the Emerald Isle on the State subsidised and run carrier – Aer Lingus. It was not pretty, which was why so few expats even living in England got back home more than once a year. Oh, those days of yore . . .

So no, things were not better in the golden days of State airlines, and people do love nipping around Europe on Ryanair. If Ryanair gets punished in the market for this incompetence then so be it. Remember if it was a State entity it would be the taxpayer picking up the tab for this incompetence, not the company and its shareholders.

(Postscript: For the record, I never fly Ryanair. They are beneath me (I am at one with the Guardian on this). But it is good enough for my parents, and will remain so for the foreseeable future.)


  1. “They are beneath me (I am at one with the Guardian on this)”.
    I think I’d sooner admit to being a pianist in a brothel.

    • Old Benny Hill Show blackout skit:
      Husband-and-wife publicans:
      “Hill’s Angel”: “Our pub isn’t showing a profit– maybe we should turn it into a brothel?”
      Li’l Jackie Wright: “Lass, if we’re not makin’ money slingin’ beer, what makes ye think we’ll do better sellin’ broth?”

    • Sounds a little like the great Sir John Junor who used to end his pieces of denunciation (and this was pre-Blair) with something like I’d rather be sweeping the gutters in Auchtermuchtie. FWIW, Brahms used to play the piano in Hamburg’s brothels.

  2. Miss Perkins is correct that Ryanair was invented to make lots of money while tormenting Chiswick Woman in her eternal quest for something for nothing. But she’s wrong about the dark side of the European psyche; it’s the dark side of the English middle class psyche. Only an Irishman culturally distilled by centuries of the gimcrack English arrogance that all Celts know so well could have devised a torture so exquisitely addictive as Ryanair. I can’t say I enjoy flying Ryanair myself but the experience is much leavened by the family-of-four psychodramas enacted around me.

  3. Well, reading the news today I guess you’ll just have to take a black cab to catch you much more expensive flight. Seems Britain has a knack for sticking fingers in dykes that would flood the market with things that working people can afford. But then the left has been doing that for a hundred years, funny we let them get away with it all the time, though.

    • Interesting dynamic on the Cab story, A large percentage of Black Cab drivers are still working class white men. A large percentage of Uber drivers and Mini cab drivers are not white. Driving a taxi is the job of choice for immigrants around the western world.
      The license to trade will be renewed. Uber will not stop. They will make some concessions and the authorities will back down

      Interestingly the New York Times reported earlier in 2015 that only 6 percent of yellow cab drivers are even American-born?. I wonder if that is true?

      • It is, and I haven’t seen all that much on it. Houston did it a while back and got quite the blowback, but there are competitors for Uber here. Terrible optics though, especially if exploited properly.

        It could be, I tend to avoid cabs (well, cities, as well). But there are a lot of Iranian (a lot came over in the after Khomeini). And while the black cabs have a reputation of being a pretty good deal for the driver, the yellow cabs here are very close to being sweated labor by the politically connected, long days for low pay are not unheard of. It would be useful if they spoke English of some sort though.

  4. I remember a while back when a Ryanair flight landed by mistake at a military airbase. Would be rather nice if a flight were to inadvertently repatriate the Guardian editorial staff to their motherland of North Korea

  5. We often fly Ryanair. Whilst I like the low prices we would happily pay more for a better service. IF there was one. But where they have a real USP is flying directly from one odd place to another.

    If you want to go from NW England to the Carmargue for example Liverpool-Nimes with Ryanair is the only direct option. So cheap flights between great little airports.

  6. Ryanair, so unpopular 10’s of millions fly it annually

    Like Uber, the establishment hates the plebs having control and a good deal

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