When speaking about Ryanair, it is always difficult to determine whether they are serious or just fishing for publicity, but they are in the news again, and once again the issue is lavatories. While the Irish carrier dropped plans to charge passengers to use the loo, they have decided to do the next best thing–remove them.
In a press conference today, Chief executive Michael O’Leary talked of Ryanair’s plan to scrap two out of three lavatories on each of their aircraft:
It would fundamentally lower air fares by about five per cent for all passengers…We very rarely use all three toilets on board our aircraft anyway.
I do not agree.
Last Friday night my brother and I ate at a Turkish restaurant in Frankfurt. The food was delicious and we went to bed well-sated. Saturday morning we woke up early for our flight to London and enjoyed a large breakfast in the A26 Lufthansa Senator Lounge at FRA. That must have pushed the food down from the night before, because almost simultaneously as our flight to London was taxiing down the runway 30 minutes later, we looked at each other, clutched our stomachs, and bent over in pain.
I won’t go into much more detail, but once the plane leveled off, we occupied two of the three lavs for the next 30 minutes. Yes–it was not a pretty sight.
Just think how bad it would have been had there only been one bathroom onboard. And think how often you see passengers lining up to use lavatories (like on Saturday…).
The idea that one is enough for 200 passengers just does not add up, though surprisingly to me, there is no regulation in Ireland or the EU stating that a commercial airplane must have a customer lavatory onboard. Ryanair’s longest route is London to Rhodes (4hrs, 25 minutes), quite a haul for one one lavatory.
What will Ryanair do with the extra space? Add more seats of course–one more row of six seats to be exact.
But don’t hold your breath waiting for this to happen. Ryanair has an exclusive 737-800 fleet (which makes it easier), but still must convince Boeing to certify the new configuration. Boeing has not ruled it out, but currently has not certified more than 189 seats onboard the aircraft. The cost to remove the lavatories, install the seats, and re-certify the aircraft may make the business case less palatable when push comes to shove.
Whether the changes come or not, Ryanair got a lot of free publicity today–I must again tip my hats to their clever media department and to the crafty Mr. O’Leary.