King of ancillary revenues, RyanAir offers €1,000 for best idea on making money!


Source: RyanAir

Source: RyanAir

It seems like RyanAir folks read SimpliFlying! Just when we’re having an ancillary revenues special this month, they’re giving us all the fodder to write about!

The airline has launched a competition where anyone in Europe can suggest ideas by email to on how RyanAir can make more money off their customers! The best idea wins €1,000.

Some of the wackiest ideas are already stated on RyanAir’s website:

  • Charging for toilet paper – with O’Leary’s face on it,
  • Charging €2.50 to read the safety cards,
  • Charging €1 to use oxygen masks,
  • Charging €25 to use the emergency exit,
  • Charging €50 for bikini clad Cabin Crew.

An airline which laughs at itself

These days, companies, especially large, international ones that dare to laugh at themselves are a rarity. And an airline that can do that earns my respect. Others in those ranks? I’d say Southwest, JetBlue, Virgin America,, Indigo and AirAsia. Ironically, no legacy carriers made to this list. Do you know of any more?

A “cheap”, but authentic brand

Alright, many of you woul classify this RyanAir move as “cheap”. But isn’t RyanAir a cheap airline for the cheap traveler? Then, I’m sure the competition resonates well with its target market!

The true measure of how distinct a brand positioning is not just the number of fans, but also the number of detractors. Brands that try to be everything to everyone often fall flat! And through this competition, RyanAir has only further strengthened its positioning as the “cheapest” airline in Europe and done so very authentically too – by being very open about the fact.

What do you think? Good move by RyanAir or a PR disaster? How can legacy carriers be so open with their customers? Let’s hear it…

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Showing 40 comments
  • Christopher Falco

    Good move for ryan air I think it will pay off in the long run

  • Airline News

    A good move – sure to generate yet more free publicity for the airline and keep it top of mind for the phrase cheap and travel.

  • Albert Guez

    Ryanair offering money? Strange, stay away from them. Do you know Ryanair workers have to pay for uniforms, trainings? And get very low salary?

    Why do you think they are recruiting in Poland and others east European countries?

    Dont fly with this company.

  • Chris Greta

    We’ve done contests like this with our clients before and had GREAT success with it. Generally, it’s a great idea. The press you get multiplies your investment.

  • Chris Greta

    This reminds me of a story. Was in a client meeting a few years back and she had a toy car on her desk. It was part of a dimensional mailer and over the course of a couple meetings, she would start talking about what a stupid idea the dimensional and the car were for a marketing campaign.

    Then, after our second discussion on this, I pointed out to her that we’d just spent 20 minutes of our lives about a “bad” marketing campaign….

    She suddenly saw the light. They got her. It was a GREAT marketing campaign because what is the goal of a B2B campaign? To get people to talk about your product.

    Contests like this are the same thing. Because look at how many of us are talking about Ryanair. How much time have we all spent thinking about them up until now? Probably none.

    One point, Ryanair.

  • Gilles Rivet

    €1,000 for an idea worth €1M++…. a good deal for Ryanair!!!!

  • Prasantha Varma

    It is off course a good Publicity. I would say that an airline which needs a good publicity have to follow the RyanAir’s path. “Less Investment ——– high outcome.”

  • Maureen Pluck

    Why would it matter where they fy in or out of. What they want is a good money making idea! I think you are losing the focus here and wasting your energy….

  • David Stoyle

    Michael O’Leary has frequently stated that any publicity (except adverse safety publicity) is good for business. Every statement he makes, no matter how outrageous, seems to have a positive impact on the airline’s sales.

    It is quite interesting to compare him to Richard Branson – Ryanair seems to get maximum news coverage without the CEO having to risk his life in dangerous sports!

    And hey – maybe someone will come up with a good idea for money making. Innovation is strongest when more brains work on ideas, and all these people proposing things will be potential passengers, so well placed to know what the customer will buy.

  • Hubbert Smith

    I’d love to contribute … but why is this limited to those in Europe?

  • John Paul Kirton

    I guess that is where majority of their business is

  • Hubbert Smith

    we, your poor cousins in the colonies, are all out of good ideas?

    however, I really would like to know why this is restricted to europe.

  • Tim Cowan

    Don’t be offended US. I am in the US also. Ryan Air does not fly here so obviously part of this is to get feedback from their customers and potential customers and create buzz. Why would USAir want solutions from Europeans since they don’t fly there……

  • rudy rupak

    Whoever suggested the “fee to use the loo” idea deserves 10x the award….I mean look at the publicity it has bought them! Oh aren’t some of you aware? Read on fellow industry-ites.

    Here are some ideas:

    In case of emergency, charge for oxygen
    Premium seating surcharge on lifeboats in case of a water landing
    They can install a 976 type number and charge a $1/minute to talk to a “friendly” customer service rep.

  • Ricardo Figueiredo

    1,000 €?!? to cheap!!
    But at the end everything is marketing.

  • Myles Flood

    No such thing as a PR disaster for Ryanair..

  • Vinay Rajan

    Well the main branding for Ryanair is to stay in the news and believe in the policy of no bad publicity ( any kind of news good / bad is a publicity). Thats why we see ryanair always atleast appearin at least once a month in the news..
    Coming to the offer, ryanair possible can build a customer / possible customer Database which could be quite usefull and with the current economic condition, it wont hurt to earn € 1000 but lets see if there is any strings attached to that € 1000…lol

  • Emily Patterson

    I think it’s a bad idea. Raise prices, upsell, side-sell or sell them stuff they don’t really need. How about, “Get more customers” instead of squeezing the last pennies out of the ones they already have?

  • Aloke Bajpai

    More traffic on their site by creating such controversial news = more ancillary revenues (advertising) anyways

    I would say makes business sense

  • Shyrose

    Don’t charge the customers more money, but add greater value. Ryanair should link up with the local taxi companies of the detination airports and agree a deal with them, whereby flyers can book their taxi on the plane so it’s ready and waiting for them the other side. Taxi companies give Ryannair a referral fee, and Ryanair will be positioned as offering greater value service for customers.

    • Shashank Nigam

      @Shyrose: I’d absolutely agree with you. In fact I like your specific idea about tying up with taxi-drivers too. Check out my latest article inspired by your comment, on 16 March 2009 on how airlines can make ancillary revenues work.

  • Ahmed Sultan, ITC

    Asking for more fresh ideas is unquestionably a good PR idea for RyanAir. Giving away 1,000 euros is almost nothing compared with the high publicity RyanAir will receive from propagating the news about its contest.

    Legacy carriers can apply the same idea with little modification. They can simply organize similar contests but not for asking for fresh ideas to generate more ancillary revenues (like the case of RyanAir), but rather asking for fresh ideas to improve the overall passenger services. Thus, the passengers will be double-motivated to seriously participate in any of those contests. Apparently, they have a chance to win the contest and enjoy the to-be enhanced service of the legacy carrier.

    Alas for those who can not participate in the contest of RyanAir due to their place of residence! The good news for me is that I will have less competition. However, to show my philanthropic traits, I am ready to have a joint venture with anyone of those ineligible contestants who has a knock-out idea for RyanAir.

  • Bourhane Kadmiry

    I think Ryanair is a company with a cheap minded approach to customer service. They are all the time trying to sneak a couple of euros more for every piece of the boarding process from check in to selling a 1 euro plastic bags for the liquids in the customer cabin luggage. It is outragious and prejudiciable to xustomer satisfaction. For me it is a disaster that a person gives them more incentive to ‘screw’ people on little details so that, at the end, he/she gets a 1000Euros: not worth it!

  • Mark Carolla

    It is not only stupid but borders on criminal….and demonstrates the way the airline industry is losing its way….except for companies such as Lufthansa that just “get it” regarding service, fare structures, etc. One of the fundamental precepts of the 1944 Chicago Convention that established the international legal order for civil aviation and airline travel is that airlines are basically an international public utility and necessity for world commerce. Can you imagine the hue and cry that would arise if your electric or water utility, or your grocer for that matter, had a contest as to how they could extract more money from their customers? Go ahead, Ryanair, make your brand the salient joke.

  • Mike Davis

    The person who suggested charging passengers to use the toilet on RyanAir flights should be fed a very large curry, followed by 3 pints of good old Irish Ale and sent on board the longest sector flight Ryan Air operates without any cash!!

    Shashank, I think “low cost”, has become a joke. Charging customers additional stealth taxes will win no prizes and will eventually be the down fall of operators like RyanAir. It’s not everyone’s “cup of tea”!!

    My Best Regards

  • Shashank Nigam

    @Mike: I’ve been rolling on the floor laughing hard after reading your comment! Frankly, I can’t image boarding a Ryanair flight without any cash too.

    But here’s something I like about them. They know they’re cheap and they have no qualms admitting that. In fact, that’s their distinct value prop, and attracts a certain type of customer (students?) who likes their offering. And that’s what they do right. Not everyone’s “cup of tea” but certainly some like the flavor.

  • Kester Osahenye

    Great idea for a fraudulent brand. RyanAir is fraud personified. We are more than 27 professionals that RyanAir had swindled. We would not stop until the whole of Europe hears our protests.

  • Dietmar Kirchner

    If you follow the “Charge for toilet use” route, the next ideas would be charges for
    – availibility of oxygen masks
    – rent of life vests
    – usage of stairs for boarding / deboarding

    Seriously, Ryanair is heading in the wrong direction. Look what their great mastermind Southwest is saying:
    No hidden fees:
    – no first checked bag fee
    – no second checked bag fee
    – no change fee
    – no window or asle seat fee
    – no phone reservation fee
    – no snack fee
    – no fuel surcharge

    Like this they are even making the legacy airlines look mean.

    There s plenty of money to be made from real services like car rentals, hotel bookings, theatre and event tickets, transfer services etc.

    • Cheap car rental

      There are lots of money will be really made to those kinds of services such as car rentals and other bookings because it is usually use by most of the people especially those business man and travelers. During holiday season, mostly those services become high in price but there's nothing to worry about because there are other services that are cheap.

  • Shashank Nigam

    @Dietmar: I think RyanAir is becoming the LCC of the future, while Southwest is becoming the premium carrier!

  • Lisa Rigsby

    It’s certainly better than charging for the loo! It’s definitely a good publicity move, engages consumers and encourages them to participate in the RyanAir brand.

  • Ian Cook

    Offer clients a guaranteed “luggage package” Where customers do take larger suitcases on flights, offer them a guaranteed – “we guarantee your bag is on the plane” package, nobody likes to have their luggage lost in transit – guarantee it arrives!! and remove the customer worry that everyone has while waiting at the carousel….will my bag be there??

    Sell one side of the outside of the plane to sponsors.

    Get promotions girls on board to give out samplers and take in-flight consumer testing surveys – charge the brand managers for the 1200 people that would take the survey in a day (3 return flights per day)

    Ian cook

  • Adam Wendel

    Fortune favors the bold – Either way they are interacting with their customer base which helps them create more value.

    It doesn’t appear as though they are posting submitted ideas online for the public.

    The bigger disaster in the case of Ryanair would be all the annoying pop up ads on their front page.

  • Jarek Wagner

    Well, I don’t remember any single months without controvercial rumor about Ryanair. Meaby it’s just their way of promotion. By now I think is quite successful.

  • Rick Beets

    Maybe they make enough money? Nah, those are all public companies so a bit scared of what it might do to their stock price.

  • John Hyman

    It doesn’t hurt that Southwest is a younger airline and has a newer fleet. This means lower maintainance costs and only one aircraft manufacturer to deal with. Legacy airlines, especially those with older fleets and multiple manufacturers to contend with, have higher costs and management challenges (parts inventory, and tech base, for example).

    The airlines that are financially well off are also marketing more aggressively, to the detriment of the rest of the industry. Their customer centricty is also better- equipment is cleaner and better serviced.

    Look at all the trending, profitable airlines and you’ll see this consistently.

  • Tariq Hyder

    its all about the money you have. Southwest started early, has been a pioneer and it has effectively used it to its advantage to this day. In India, we serve several new airline and aviation brands and it looks like a quagmire!!


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