Slog on tour: Fun with Ryanair.

My deodorant pack (I discovered by chance while publicly disrobing in airport security this morning) is too big. At 4cms, it’s a deodorant; at 6cms, it’s a cosh. But my scissors were OK, having blades of less than 5cms. When you’re stabbing a co-pilot, that extra millimetre can make all the difference, but if all you
want to do is trim his handlebar moustache, then of course that’s just fine.

Airport security across Europe has become one of those rituals where nobody can remember any longer why the original rules are as they are, but we mustn’t deviate from them, or it’s Alla Aqbar next stop. As with kosher butchery or fish on Fridays, it simply is. So it indeed is that in 2015, we all get undressed and a dressing down while running the gauntlet of Airport Security.

I find it fascinating that, while almost every other tedious task once performed by a human being has been robotised, security hasn’t. This would suggest that the élites are just like us on one key dimension of judgement: when something absolutely 100% has to be right, safe and thorough, better a person than a pc. In other words, they know that modern circuit board electronics are crap, and they’re just pretending when they say “User error”. No human security officer, for example, would ever spot two toothbrushes in a bathroom bag and assume that the owner had both real teeth and a denture,good gracious me no. The doubling of one’s toothbrush complement immediately makes it a dangerous weapon in the hands of any terrorist hell-bent on disabling a stewardess. Countless cabin staff have been maimed for life after having a nose viciously tweaked by Jihadist toothbrush chopsticks.

The horror of all this nonsense (which has achieved exactly what Jihadists want – uncertainty, fear, annoyance and delay) was not helped by a decision to fly Ryanair, the only airline in the world surprised on every flight it manages that with a full complement of passengers, there aren’t enough overhead lockers for their bags. But as so often with neoliberal ‘choice’, there was no brand option if one wanted to go to Stanstead. I don’t mean I’ve ever really wanted to go to Stanstead, but landing anywhere else would’ve been hopeless given my end destination. So Ryanair it was, and trust me – the service hasn’t changed one iota.

The boarding area was a shed, the queue management incompetent,  and the advice about which end of the plane to board absent. O’Leary likes to position his flying trams as a ‘no frills airline’, but in reality it’s a no-brain service. Information on the day costs nothing and saves the ever-present boarding fiasco in which people try to use a single aisle as a dual carriageway, with the result that it feels like taking on a Kiwi scrum pack in a toastie-maker.

With clinical accuracy, I put bum upon seat directly behind the only baby on the plane. It’s a sixth sense I have…fascinating in that it is both masochistic and pointless. Mum was ever so proud of her baby’s vocal chords, and kept up a nonstop mindless chatter with her offspring in the manner of Alison Steadman in Abigail’s Party. “Are we a little bit thirsty for a drinky hmm, is that what the noise is about little monkey, eh? There we go, lavleeee.”

All that said, I am forced to admit that the cabin staff on the flight were unfailingly helpful, friendly and polite.

Thirteen years of New Labour education targets and pictorial comms technology having rendered most people under 40 semi-literate, all of the safety procedures these days on cheap flights are in strip cartoon form. Getting out of the aeroplane in the likely event of Ryanair igniting the fuel before take-off is made to look like a party game in which people grin happily while crawling on all fours, have harmless smoke resting safely above them, and then jump onto a bouncy slide down to the wing where ginger beer, jelly and lashings of cream will surely be available. If the wing is still there.

But none of these pernicious predictions came to pass. We made it to Blighty on schedule and in one piece. Only then did things start to go very, very badly awry.

33 thoughts on “Slog on tour: Fun with Ryanair.

  1. You fly Ryanair , you poor man ! You should have asked and I would have arranged a privavte Learjet pick up .
    Anyway I thought you said destination Germany …. not England . Wolfgang is very depressed and threatens to send Speer s grandson on a biplane with sufficient fuel to make the one way trip to Milton zkeynes so he can send you a oersonal incocation to stop by Berlin on your return . Otherwise Mr Ward …… wve have ways …


  2. Whatever makes a chap like you have to fly RyanAir? Are you making sacrifices so that you can send the money to genuine refugees?
    And did you forget to post the final paragraph of this enthralling story.?


  3. Meine Liebling Konditorei
    Please send your best Focke Wulf to my rescue as soon as possible. My desperate flight has come to nuzzink und so I am Rudolf locked-up Ness.


  4. JdeV
    Edith Piaf was always on the borrow, going round to friends and complaining, “Non, je n’ai pas de vinegraite”


  5. My kid sister (all of fourteen summers younger than I) once gave me a tiny penknife. It was produced by Mercedes and, besides being made from the very finest steel, was a fine and dandy thing being all of just less than about 3/4″ blade when opened to it’s full majesty. Needless to say, I forgot about it when I passed through the severe and august security measures as presented by Bristol Airport some years ago and was brought up short by an appalled “Security Officer” who announced that I would not be able to proceed upon my journey unless I relinquished this terrible weapon which could have taken a whole airplane down in a flame-filled inferno of destruction. I gazed at the biro she was waving about and decided not to mention that I could use one of those to create more mayhem and upset than she could possibly imagine before breakfast and reluctantly allowed it to proceed upon the way of many other revenue-enhanced items that day. IABATO.


  6. The other day, flying from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to London, I forgot to put my Swiss Army knife into my hold luggage and then failed to get it through security as I have successfully on three previous occasions (place knife perpendicular to conveyor belt inside briefcase and cover with liberal quantities of keys and coins of as many denominations as possible). The resulting kerfuffle required me to retreat back through security, depart the departure terminal, and, having taken a few mental bearings, bury the offensive weapon under a bush. My second trip through security was much more successful. But at the last moment the young lass who had first apprehended me was keen to know what had become of my knife. When I told her I had buried it her face dropped in a way that gave me to believe she was not accustomed to that particular ruse (though I can’t fathom why). Fifteen minutes later, as I was reading my book at the departure gate, two Mounties appeared with serious demeanor and took me aside. They were more or less polite, although there was a slight hint that an anal cavity search might be in order, whereupon I led them back through the airport to the aforementioned bush and presented them with my knife in short order. Ten days later it was waiting for me in a Ziploc baggy at the RCMP office in the basement of the airport. I haven’t returned to the airport since and am therefore unable to report whether all bushes and greenery in the vicinity of the departure terminal have now been concreted over for our added security.


  7. Airport security is a complete farce, especially given that I suspect that several hijackings or attempted bombings in the last decade or so have been attempted with the knowledge/assistance of certain ‘Intelligence’ services anyway. Such incidents have the effect of increasing the public fear factor, and making commercial travel more and more humiliating for the average passenger, especially in the States. It is difficult not to conclude that it is part of conditioning the public’s subservience to ‘uniformed authority’ and the security state.

    The most blatant example is surely that of the ‘underwear bomber’. The screaming headlines led to an immediate outcry for the naked body scanners produced by none other than the company of Michael Chertof, Homeland Security Chief and prominent neocon. The scanners had not been selling well up to this point. Curiously, passengers on the same flight allege that the bomber was escorted through security by officials of the U.S. Government, despite the man not having the correct documentation. The evidence of fellow passenger Kurt Haskell and the congressional testimony of Patrick J. Kennedy certainly suggest some U.S. government involvement in allowing the potential bomber on the plane.

    Airport security especially in the States has made many of the connected wealthy even more wealthy.

    Even without state involvement, the fact that at many airports organised crime has infiltrated the baggage handlers, the ridiculous routines fostered on the ordinary traveller seem irrelevant to security and become pure theatre.

    Finally, if the elites were forced to fly commercially, and were put through the same procedures as the rest of us cattle, I’m convinced the more invasive security procedures would vanish overnight. As long as the powerful do not suffer the same inconvenience as the ordinary punter I can only see the situation deteriorating further.


  8. John you crack me up. I so enjoy your essays but you do put yourself in harms way. Ryanair. Come ON!

    The Windows 8 of mass transport.


  9. Ryanair’s share price hit a record level on Wednesday after the airline raised its annual profits guidance by 25%, citing a surge in bookings…
    The no-frills carrier said it had brought forward its latest update to investors because business had been particularly strong.
    Like rival easyJet, it witnessed a rush of holidaymakers booking last-minute deals, allowing it to raise its outlook.
    It was on target to achieve a 15% rise in passenger numbers during its third quarter and was now expecting profits of between €1.18bn (£856m) and €1.23bn (£892m) for the year to the end of March, Ryanair said.
    Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “We have been surprised by the strength of close-in (late) bookings and fares this summer.


  10. Make sure it’s not a Juncker’s House Special – one minute you’re taxiing along nicely, next thing.. bingo! Everything’s up in the air and you’ve lost your national sovereignty.


  11. I mean they must be doing SOMETHING right.
    I mean apart from carrying more passengers than anyone else.
    Apartr from `NOT hgaving planes burst into flames on the tarmac.
    Or being the airline of the people, the working class, the non elite.
    Mike O’L mighht be cheap but that’s what his pax want.
    Personally I’d rather fly £200 cheaper than BA and buy my own peanuts and gin & tonic
    – which is about all you get now from BA for the extra £200.


  12. I had a deeply unpleasant experience with Ryanair a couple of years ago when chaperoning my aged parents, both in wheelchairs, and my two pre-teenage children. Their suitcase was slightly overweight, ours was more than slightly underweight and they wanted to charge about £80 for the trouble, bastards. I was forced to transfer items over by a leech who took obvious pleasure in controlling people just because he could, if he couldn’t get them to cough up. I vowed never again but will probably be beaten again one day by my own parsimonious nature.. Up, Up And Awry With Ryanair.


  13. I particularly like the weight rules. We take bicycles which are in large bags stored in the hold .There are weight limits and usually we are over by a couple of kilos ,so we are told to take something out which we do.We then go through the ritual of taking them to the oversize luggage bit and guess what we do with the stuff we took out. Yep every single time .


  14. Sorry bit late to this one , but what about the bottles of duty free, more people have been hurt by booze bottles than ever stabed by sissors. I also lost a monopod( single leg camera support) , in Italy they wanted £30 to put it in the hold in case I attacked the passangers using it as a club, binned it instead (only cost £9).


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