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The perils of no-frills

June 25, 2010

The story of Ryanair’s customers left stranded on the tarmac without refreshments, is quite incredible, but it’s nothing we’ve haven’t heard of before or perhaps experienced a little bit ourselves here in the US.

“Strathclyde police were called to the Ryanair flight at Prestwick
airport in Ayrshire yesterday after the plane was held on the runway due
to delays caused by an air traffic controllers strike in France.

flight, to Girona in Spain, had been due to leave at 2pm but by 6pm the
flight’s besieged crew called the police.

The 168 passengers,
many with children, became increasingly angry after the crew refused to
open the refreshment trolleys, saying they were forbidden from doing so
until the flight was in the air. Others wanted to get off the plane.”

However, the fact it’s Ryanair makes it especially interesting because this is a brand that’s taken no frills to an absolute extreme. The company is planning on charging passengers to use the rest room and is well known for charging customers extra for everything. This is a core part of the branding strategy.

If your prepared to go to extreme lengths to deliver the lowest possible fares and if your business is always trying to find any ways to make extra revenue by charging for the things your competitors probably give away as standard, you might just have a very distorted view of your customers.

Brands have always been used as signs and signals of standards and supposedly quality. Ryanair appears to have taken a post-post modern view of branding and inverted it on its ahead. Maybe the company believes that its customers are paying such low prices, that they have no right to expect any level of service.

The company seems to revel in the buzz can be generated for their crazy schemes to deliver the lowest prices.

A Test for Standing Passenger Flights


The problem is that the airline business is not static and revolves around a highly aggressive set of competitors who are determined to get business at all costs. Unless Ryanair has a pricing model that’s so far below any of its competitors, it better watch out, because the mutiny it experienced in Prestwick, might spread to other passengers.

No frills has been a territory circulated by many brands, especially in these tough times, but there have to limits to what consumers are prepared to expect service wise, despite the fearsome attraction of low prices.

I guess Ryanair is engaged in an interesting experiment to test those limits.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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