British newspapers and travel trade publications are all abuzz with the news that the CEO of Ryanair, the cut-rate European airline, plans to offer flights to New York and Boston from a number of European cities for prices as low as 10 euros per seat.
That’s about U.S.$13.70 by today’s exchange rates. Flights back to Europe would cost even less, about U.S.$10.
Not bad. Of course, there are some caveats.
First, Ryanair will have to buy up to 50 long-haul aircraft to make the flights worthwhile, and that could take several years.
Second, not all the seats on the plane would be that cheap. “There will also need to be a very high number of business or premium seats,” the CEO, Michael O’Leary, told the Irish Hotels Federation in Meath, Ireland, where he made the announcement.
Third, and perhaps most important, the seats would come with a lot of extra baggage in the way of fees for this, that, and several other things.
For instance, Ryanair charges about $8 for choosing your seat (which is preferable to its previous policy of not being able to choose at all).
And unlike other long-haul carriers, Ryanair would no doubt continue to charge for food and drink. Dinner with coffee and water could easily set you back $20, more than the price of the ticket.
Ryanair also charges up to $75 for checking a bag, and has a smaller size and weight limit for carry-ons than most airlines.
And it charges for re-issuing boarding passes ($25), ticket name changes ($183), carrying sports equipment ($83), and for infants ($50).
Possibilities abound for other fees as well: inflight entertainment, pillows and blankets, using the lavatory…
There’s also a standard government fee of about $112 tacked onto every flight from Britain to the U.S., which isn’t Ryanair’s fault but definitely adds to the fare.
And beyond all those considerations is just how many passengers Ryanair would need to squeeze in to make these flights profitable.
The airline’s current economy seats are just 30 inches deep and 17 inches wide — one of the “most snug” in the business. Even its premium economy seats only add another two to four inches of legroom.
For transatlantic flights, will they be bigger? Possibly. Or maybe not.
So, while the 10 euro fare seems like a great marketing and publicity strategy, it may not have baby boomers scrambling to fill those seats.
Though it is tempting.