Customer Experience with Ryanair Flying has become more popular in recent years, especially among younger customers. One reason for an increase in flying is the rise of regional and discount airlines, which in many cases makes flying cheaper than train travel or driving. In the United States, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, Frontier, and Virgin Atlantic are some of the better-known discount airlines. In Asia, customers find discounted flights on AirAsia, its subsidiary AirAsia X, and IndiGo. European travelers seeking discounts fly easyJet, Norwegian Air, and vueling. However, if you want to fly cheaply in Europe, you also have to consider Ryanair. Based in the outskirts of Dublin, Ryanair began service in 1985, and now contends it flies more customers than any other airline. The budget airline even has plans to potentially offer free flights within the next 10 years. Ryanair consistently offers fares as low as 20 euros or less on regional routes in Europe and deep, short-term sales on fares between specific locations, sometimes as low as USD$4. Mitchell Thomas was one of the customers flying on Ryanair for the low fares. He was going to study abroad in Ireland this summer and wanted to take a side trip to visit Edinburgh, Scotland, because his great-grandfather was from Scotland. Ryanair definitely had the lowest ticket prices for his one-way ticket from Dublin to Edinburgh, but he found himself faced with a decision he did not anticipate when he went to purchase his ticket. He had decided on July 6th for his travel date, and found a flight early that morning for under $20! However, when he clicked to purchase his ticket, he was also presented with additional choices which complicated his decision (see Figure 4.4). The lowest fare was only $18.92, but there were two additional fares listed for him to choose from. The Leisure Plus fare was $56.92 and the Business Plus fare was $88.92. A flight for under $20 was too good to pass up, but he also wondered whether the other fares would be worth considering. Leisure Plus included a 60-day check in, 20-kg check-in bag, priority boarding, and a reserved seat. He assumed that meant none of those things was included in the standard fare. Business Plus added to the Leisure Plus fare offering flexible tickets, FIGURE 4.4 Different Fare Options on Ryanair Website optional airport check-in, Fast Track, and reserved priority seating. He wasn’t sure what some of those added features were, but he had never flown business class before and found himself wondering if it was worth the splurge. It was a short holiday after all, but was it worth four times as much? And what about the Leisure Plus option? So, he did a little more homework to see whether it might be worth either of the other fares. He first selected the lowest fare and then went to select a seat (see Figure 4.5). Then he wondered how much it would cost to add a bag if he decided he needed to check a bag or if he wanted to add priority boarding or Fast Track (see Figure 4.6). Given the extra costs for adding these services, he decided to choose the Business Plus fare. It included all the services for one fee and he decided since it was still under $90, which made it cheaper than anything else he could find with another airline, he would treat himself. His decision to purchase the Business Plus fare set expectations, and here are his observations from the flight experience. First, he was indeed able to use the priority boarding to his advantage because he was able to get on first and had plenty of space to put his carry-on bag in the overhead compartment. Many of the passengers who loaded later had difficulty getting their luggage in the storage, and some even had theirs checked and were not able to bring it on board. Second, the priority seating had mixed results. On the one hand, he was able to select an aisle seat toward the front of the plane, so he had more legroom and was able to get off the plane first. However, the business plus seat was no wider than any of the other narrow seats and did not recline or even have a tray table. During the flight, no food or drink was included with the business plus fare, though he had ample opportunities to purchase food and beverages from the cart that made its way down the aisle twice. He was also offered the opportunity to purchase fragrances and other products as well as game tickets for prizes that apparently supported local charities. In the end, he was left wondering whether or not the business plus fare had been worth it. If he made another trip on Ryanair, would he choose it again?
1. Mitchell chose the Business Plus fare. Which one would you have chosen and why, given the information provided?
2. Do you think he was satisfied with his purchase/experience?
3. What do you think Ryanair could do differently to make sure he was satisfied in this case?
4. What would you expect Mitchell to do as part of his post-purchase evaluation?
5. Does it make sense for a discount airline like Ryanair to even have a Business Class option for its flights? Why or why not? And if so, who would be interested in purchasing this option?