A Lot of Hot Air

I received a backlash from a couple of senior PR pros this afternoon when I denounced Ryanair’s latest publicity stunt on Twitter. The budget airline says that its recent announcement that the company would consider charging passengers for using the toilets on its flights was just “very cheap PR”, which I said was ‘a crap stunt’.

I stand by that. My critics said it was a good stunt because it got the company being talked about, reminding everyone that they deal in cheap flights. At a superficial level, yes, it succeeded in getting Ryanair some airtime, but what about the quality of perception of that toilet charging message?

For Existing Customers: Oh no, another fee. Can I hold it in for an hour to Charleroi given how long we might be stuck on the tarmac at dreary Stansted? I might just check out easyJet’s rates to Brussels…

For Potential Customers: Wow, that’s tight of Ryanair. I must remember not to have a curry the night before I fly, just in case. And you can only take on 16kgs of luggage. Hmm, I might just look elsewhere.

OK, I must admit that personally Ryanair is my last resort after a five-hour wait at Cork while extra passengers were bussed in from Knock and having to wear three layers of clothes in a sweltering Porto just to drop below the weight limit. But I still don’t think that charging for something as humanly necessary as a comfort break is ever going to win favour, anywhere or anywhen. It smells of back-tracking to me.


  1. Hey, totally agree the stunt was poretty lame but you have to agree, the company is founded around one principle...price......being cheap.....not costing much.....and this just reinforced it. Do I buy solely according to price? No....Do I like Ryanair as an organisation? No.... Do I know what they stand for and would I think of them when considering a cheap flight? Yes.... Your question was about whether the PR stunt worked, not whether I agreed with charging people to pee. Although to be honest, there's nothing new about spending a penny.....train stations have been doing it for years :-)

  2. cheers, Becky. duly noted, although I was also commenting on its strength as a PR stunt. There are other ways to say "we're cheap" than make out that you're going to charge for toilets.