Ryanair Promises To Be Nicer To Passengers
Ryanair's firebrand chief executive Michael O'Leary has promised to transform the carrier's "abrupt culture" as it bids to win customers from rivals.
He was speaking at the no-frills airline's AGM in Dublin following complaints from several investors at the meeting who warned over the impact on sales from poor customer service.
The remarks were seen as the first admission from Mr O'Leary that Ryanair has a significant PR problem on service.
When the airline was voted just this week as the worst of the 100 biggest brands serving the British market by readers of consumer magazine Which?, Ryanair dismissed the study - suggesting that its customers were too busy booking flights with Ryanair to respond.
It also took aim at Which? saying that its own customer poll had found just two of its three million passengers had ever heard of the consumer group.
Now Mr O'Leary has pledged to improve the passenger experience, suggesting he was U-turning on past comments that all passengers cared about was price.
He told the meeting: "We should try to eliminate things that unnecessarily p*** people off."
He said the company would overhaul its website, set up a new team to respond to emails and stop fining customers whose carry-on baggage exceeded minimum sizes by a matter of millimetres.
"A lot of those customer services elements don't cost a lot of money ... It's something we are committed to addressing over the coming year," Mr O'Leary said.
It was confirmed that Ryanair would also drop its ?3 charge for downloading its booking app.
The company - which issued a profits warning earlier this month citing reasons including competition - has slowly whittled away at the traditional trappings of air travel to keep its costs and prices down.
As part of its campaign to eliminate hold-baggage on its planes, it raised the cost by more than 60% over the summer peak as families were taking holidays.
Ryanair has also received negative publicity in the past over its treatment of disabled passengers, those subject to delays and even people claiming refunds on behalf of dead relatives.
The airline - and its low-cost rivals - have also faced scrutiny over price clarity.