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Toilet Usage Charge Looms

Airline travel keeps getting more ridiculous

Nelson Alcantara  Mar 02, 2009

First they took away the peanuts, then the pillows and blankets. Now an airline is mulling over charging for toilet usage, too?

The CEO of European low-cost carrier Ryanair, Michael O'Leary, has caught the attention of the world anew when he announced that he may soon be installing pay toilets, which “would lower ticket costs and make flying, somehow, easier for all.”

"One thing we have looked at in the past, and are looking at again, is the possibility of maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door, so that people might have to actually spend a pound to 'spend a penny' in future," O'Leary was quoted as saying.

In a BBC Television interview, the Ryanair boss was asked what would happen if a customer really had to go but didn't have correct change, O'Leary said, "I don't think there's anybody in history (who has) gone on board a Ryanair aircraft with less than a pound (US$1.42).”

Stephen McNamara, spokesman for the Ireland-based carrier, said the idea of in-flight pay toilets is part of a logical trend. "Michael makes a lot of this stuff up as he goes along and, while this has been discussed internally, there are no immediate plans to introduce it," McNamara told the Associated Press.

He added, "Passengers using train and bus stations are already accustomed to paying to use the toilet, so why not on airplanes? Not everyone uses the toilet on board one of our flights, but those that do could help to reduce airfares for all passengers."

However, given O’Leary’s track record of having a proclivity for the outrageous in his effort to gain free publicity, the latest remark may just be another one of his shenanigans.

The idea isn’t far-fetched considering Ryanair is looked upon as the pioneer in charging passengers to check bags, to use a check-in desk, and even to use a credit or debit card to make an online booking. Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at BGC Partners in London, told the Associated Press that there might be some truth to O'Leary's statement. "This begs a simple question retort of: Is there absolutely nothing that this airline won't do? Not really, so if you are thinking about flying cattle-class Ryanair in the future, beware.”

The announcement was made last Friday, and it has so far elicited both humor and anger (see today’s R.O.A.R. entry).

Airline travel keeps getting more ridiculous
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