Well, the muse resides where the muse resides. The weekend saw me Ibiza bound courtesy of an eye wateringly priced fare to Ryanair. Browsing the cards in my local bookshop the day before I overheard three people talking behind me: ‘Oh, they’re dreadful – herding people on like cattle – it’s almost inhuman’. ‘But they do seem to be quite efficient?’ suggested the only man quietly, standing between the two ladies. ‘What about the safety aspect?!’ a third lady retorted. ‘What about that pilot that’s been in the news?’
I couldn’t help it, I had to interject: ‘I fly Ryanair and I find them quite good in terms of punctuality – you just have to behave – he’s got us all trained so well!’ The man chuckled but the lady who spoke last turned away in disgust.
Approaching the airport on the motorway, the first sign I saw to denote this was a massive yellow ‘RYANAIR’ rising tall into the sky – eclipsing any notification of whether we were at Gatwick, Stansted or anywhere else for that matter.
The gate number usually goes up five minutes before it closes however nobody, but nobody messes with this important time. I hurried towards it, takeaway coffee and croissant in a bag swinging from one arm, wheeling my weekend case (where my handbag already resided) with the other hand. Two men also moving at a steady pace were in conversation beside me: ‘You know I’ve heard they make the staff buy their own uniform!’ ‘You’re kidding’ said his mate.
We stood obediently in line waiting to board. All around people were hurriedly stuffing smaller bags into bigger bags. A man ran past, breathing heavily, to another yellow and blue gate – chancing it I fear. A member of staff walked by holding up what looked like a large homemade sign: “Priority Boarding 10 euros” it read in big blue biro capitals on a piece of brown cardboard.
Mindful of one of Mr O’Leary’s more colourful quotes: ‘Anyone who thinks Ryanair flights are some sort of bastion of sanctity where you can contemplate your navel is wrong…’ I wondered if I could prove him otherwise.
My initial reverie certainly didn’t last long. The party was already in full swing for many of the gentlemen sitting in front of me wearing T-shirts with ‘Steve’s Stag’ written on them. The drink was flowing and the decibels were rising. The trolley came past with perfumes and sundry other items for sale: ‘Waitress, waitress!’ said one of Steve’s stags, ‘Can we get some more beers here!’. The demure elderly lady sitting to my right looked at me and smiled: ‘You know I’m so glad they’re charging a decent amount for the drinks on this flight; I visit my son in Slovenia often and they charge such a pittance on that route I’m surprised they make any profit at all’. I looked at her, askance.
I turned to the in-flight magazine, and giggled at the captions as I turned over the pages of The Getaway Cafe: “There’s no extra charge to turn the page; Stuff made in a real kitchen; Meal Deal (don’t worry; there’s no fuel surcharge); Soft drinks and juices (because the toilets are still free!)” etc etc.
The by now familiar Ryanair trumpet fanfare rang out to announce that we had arrived 15 minutes ahead of schedule whereupon a collective cheer broke out. We walked down the steps into magnificent heat and sunshine. A bus waited to take us to the terminal building. My new travelling companion turned to me: ‘And so near to the airport too! Wonderful isn’t it!’