Subject: Re: Free is Good (Ryanair)
Hello everybody,

Just a few words on Ryanair and other European low cost carriers.

I'm not a frequent flyer and I haven't much experience about US airline system, but I can say the European market, before low-cost carriers started their business, was an awfully expensive one. It was dominated by state airlines which kept their prices high even for short distances and it was focused on a few main airports. Ten years ago Venice airport, which now has direct flights to most European cities and New York, was served only by a handful of companies, Alitalia doing the lion's share with all flights going via Milan or Rome. Five years ago I flew from Venice to Copenhagen via Milan on a code-shared Alitalia-SAS as there wasn't a direct flight! And if that was Venice, imagine what was at our Trieste airport whit its six daily flights to Milan and Rome only....

Luckily things have changed. Last year I flew to London Stansted from my hometown tiny airport (boarding on mobile staircases, as usual), having a very pleasant 2-hour flight without any beverage (available for a fee if you really get thirsty) on a rather new and clean airplane and a friendly staff. I landed at Stansted, a very new and state-of-the-art airport, and in 45 minutes I was at Victoria, just a bit more than it should have taken if I had flown in at Gatwick, where Alitalia now flies in.

All that for less than 100 euro round trip including all taxes, while before 9/11 (then without the present surcharges) I had paid 300 euro for a super-discounted Alitalia fare (not refundable) Venice-Gatwick. I'd only wish there were such a service to the USA!

I don't want to hide the downpoints though: their baggage policy can be annoying for hand-baggage travellers because of weight limitations and some European airports are out of the way.

The check-in and security queues are something we're getting used to and Ryanair asks for 2 hours before flight departure which is standard for Europe; I don't even dare to show late on a national flight now. I'm not sure Ryanair is leaving someone on the ground while they are queued up, as last month a couple of friends happened to be late between two flights in Stansted and they were boarded as well.

The policy about not-refundability is also limiting, but considering the amounts you deal are acceptable. And if I think my 500$ ticket to Florida in 2000 was fully NOT refundable, I feel safe enough. I know customer is God in the USA, much less in Europe, so maybe this is the difference.

So, instead of saying you get what you pay for I'd rather say you get a decent service at a decent price, which can be enough if you feel you can give up those important things like VIP lounges, free drinks and newspapers, FF miles and ...boarding bridges. Bye all, Paolo Trieste, Italy