On the Travel Show, broadcast on The Irish Times website from Friday, March 28, Fionn Davenport, Joan Scales and Gerry Byrne discuss the aviation industry.
Listen in here.
My notes are here, Joan Scales
For anyone who ever approached a Ryanair counter with fluttering heart, sweating palms and lungs pumping, relax. That’s the message from the new Ryanair. This is the Year of Change. The year when Ryanair grows up to be a sophisticated carrier with respect for its customers!!
The new Ryanair wants to grow from 81m passengers (222,000 per day) to 110m in the next five years and realise they cannot do it without changing the model. The Pissoff Factor needed to go. I estimate that if they were pissing off one passenger per flight every day, that passenger would never fly Ryanair again and in the long term the passenger base would be eroded to the point of no return.
On Wednesday Ryanair invited journalists from national media across Europe to London to hear about all the new changes they are making, an unheard of event in Ryanair history. The profits for the day were probably eaten up by the 100 strong pack of hungry journos.
The first change the most passengers might notice is they now have an allocated seat. It is still causing some confusion as I witnessed on my flight. It’s quite funny to see the cabin attendants trying to move people around and some people just do not understand yet. It will take a while to get used to.
Michael’s answer to that is Relax. He said “there’s not need to be queuing, sit down, relax and wait for your flight to board, you have a seat!” Though Dublin Airport could do with some more seats at the departure gates, there’s probably only enough for about half the passengers on any flight.
You may also have noticed that the interminable clicks to get to the final page are disappearing, 17 clicks down to 5 and less to come with the new mobile app which will launch in June.
Ever made a mistake on a name, misspelled your own, it happens, so now you have a 24-hour grace period to make changes without charge. Name changes cost €110, if you make it after that.
A free second bag, now there is a big change. We have all struggled to squeeze our hand bags and airport shopping into one bag, even wearing half our clothes home to comply with the Gate Police or face an additional €40 fee for checking in the overladen bag.
In an interesting exercise Ryanair conducted at the gates at Dublin airport last October, 70 per cent of the bags the staff put into the Sizer were under the weight and size limit. So now staff will be more circumspect about what gets checked, if it looks ok, it probably is...will be the mantra.
Baggage fees at the airport have also been reduced, though watch out for high season and distance, the price varies. The boarding card reissue fee at the airport has also been reduced to €15, down from €50. A sore point with my daughter to had to pay it one time on her way back from London when her friend accidentally threw their boarding cards in the bin.
From June, when we all have the new Ryanair App, no need to worry about boarding cards, it will be on your phone as a QR code or something similar.
We also had a preview of the new website yesterday, it will launch on or around April 10. It is brilliant, very intuitive and so easy to access cheap and low fares. I can’t wait to try it out. Another advance is the access to flights and fares further out.
Up to now Ryanair had only been putting up to six months schedules in the system, soon we will all be able to book up to a year out. And the cheapest fares will be at the furthest out dates. So a lot more planning can be done, ideal for families.
And talking of families, the new website will be able to hold information about who is travelling and if they are a family or couple or need to travel together, without having to buy designated seating. This has caused problems, particularly in the past month with allocated seating not knowing who is with whom and what ages.
Growing business for Ryanair will also involve a big step back into the business travel market and also into travel agencies. Ryanair ended their relationship with travel agencies about 15 years ago, when the internet became stable for bookings and swore that was the end of that. As the aviation market in Europe in Europe is more and more competitive with airlines like Easyjet providing a service to corporate clients via travel agents, Ryanair has to join the trend.
Next Wednesday April 2 Travelport ,the Global Distribution System will go live allowing travel agents to book Ryanair tickets. The very lowest fares will not be on the system, i.e. the 9.99 and 15.99 fares, but all the others will.
Michael believes that the travel agency model has really changed and improved and they longer look to the airlines to pay them commission for bookings, instead customers pay the agents a service fee for making a booking.
Access to GDS for travel agents will also make it easier for them to package up good holiday deals for customers. Another plan for the business traveller is the access to primary airports and four the next eight bases opening next month will include primary airports such as Lisbon, Rome Fiumicino, and Athens .
In a further development unveiled on Wednesday Ryanair will join the new Google Flight Search, which went live yesterday in Ireland and Poland. Every month Ryanair gets 25 million Google searches, now those searches will lead direct to the new Google Travel site, which will allow people to look at a route map and see a choice of fares for a few weeks either side of your dates. When you click to book, it will bring you straight to the airline’s website. Aer Lingus also expressed excitement at the new development and will benefit from Google Travel.
In line with all the new digital marketing and CRM initiatives, Ryanair will be announcing a major recruitment progamme for Dublin next week.
Other airline news
Who you sit beside on a flight could change the way you think and work, if you were flying in Delta’s Innovation Class. The airline’s mentoring programme is putting big thinkers and innovators side by side with aspiring business people. Mentors can be chosen from any field that is fuelling innovation including financial services, sports, advertising and entertainment. See the video about the first mentoring session on deltainnovationclass.com.
He who pays the most gets the most. Delta is changing the face of its frequent flyer programme Skymiles to shift away from the current model of rewarding miles flown. Instead members will earn Skymiles based on the price of the ticket. Depending on your status in Delta’s FFP you could anything from five-eleven miles per US dollar spent.
Sleep is taking centre stage for Etihad Airways and they have invested heavily in giving you the best sleep ever. The airline has been working with sleep experts from the American Centre for Psychiatry and Neurology to research ways to enhance sleep in-flight. Some o f the enhancements include all-natural bedding, mood enhancing lighting, noise cancelling headphones and bed time beverages.
Is upgrading its long haul fleet to provide a new Premium Economy class service. The new service will be installed by November and passengers will be able to enjoy bigger seats, more legroom, two checked bags, better food, larger inflight screens and access to airport lounges for €25. Prices are expected to be closer to economy than business class, where lie-flat seats have been installed. LH will deploy the larger Boeing 747 on Sao Paolo route from the end of this month in time for the World Cup in Brazil.