Ryanair mulls a fee for bathroom use

A Ryanair jet sits on the tarmac at Limoges airport, central France.

TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: Just when you thought the skies couldn't get any more unfriendly for airline passengers. Well, they could.

We told you here yesterday that Spirit Airlines will soon tack on a charge for carry-on luggage. Today, the Irish-based budget carrier Ryanair confirmed it's pressing ahead with plans for a fee that might be difficult to "opt out" of: Get ready for coin slots on the door of the only bathroom within 36,000 feet.

Oh, the humanity.

As Marketplace's Brett Neely reports, the airline wants passengers to skip the loo.


BRETT NEELY: Right now, Ryanair's planes have three toilets on board, already low by industry standards. But the airline has never been afraid to set its sights lower and its profits higher.

STEPHEN MCNAMARA: If we get rid of two toilets off the aircraft, we can put in an extra six seats and thereby increase the number of passengers and reduce the overhead cost per passenger, which will ultimately lead to lower fares.

Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara said the policy would apply to flights lasting one hour or less.

MCNAMARA: We will make announcements that we would be delighted if people would go to the toilet before they get onto the aircraft.

A spokesman for the European Aviation Safety Agency said in principle Ryanair has the right to do this. Regulators here said the same. But U.S. airlines are required to provide quote "adequate service." The issue of toilets has never come up, but now it could.

Ryanair's restroom fee of a $1.50 won't scare off passengers, says David Learmont of Flightglobal.com in London.

DAVID LEARMONT: People have no illusions about what they're going to get when they get onto a Ryanair airplane nowadays.

A few years ago, the airline even tried charging extra for passengers in wheelchairs. That didn't fly with European disability laws. But in general, Learmont says what Ryanair is doing is inevitable.

LEARMONT: There used to be public toilets all over the place in railway stations and god knows what else in this country. And now there are hardly any of them. But that was from a more beneficial, well, benevolent, sorry, era.

Ryanair says if it goes through with the plan, passengers will have to start bringing change on board within the next year-and-a-half.

I'm Brett Neely for Marketplace.

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