Dubbed "the Walmart of the skies," Ryanair embodies the once-glamorous airline industry's new reality as a cattle-car delivery system. Searching high and low for any way to undersell its competitors, the Irish airline, led by outspoken CEO Michael O'Leary, takes a no-frills approach to the extreme. And judging by Ryanair's popularity, fliers are willing to tolerate a little hardship, and perhaps sacrifice a smidgeon of dignity, in exchange for cheaper tickets. Here, Ryanair's seven craziest tightwad proposals:
1. Urging flight attendants to lose weight
With fuel costs rising, Ryanair is taking steps to lighten its load. In-flight magazines will feature thinner paper, while the amount of ice onboard will be reduced. But those marginal changes are benign compared to Ryanair's more offensive weight-reducing proposal: Encouraging flight attendants to shed excess pounds. Lucky flight attendants who successfully slim down will be featured in Ryanair's lad-mag-like calendar.
2. Removing toilets from planes
Ryanair wanted to remove two of the three toilets installed in its Boeing 737-800 jets, and replace them with another six seats. "We very rarely use all three toilets on board our aircraft anyway," O'Leary asserted. This proposal came a year after the airline contemplated plans to install coin-operated bathrooms.
3. Offering porn onboard
In addition to selling downloadable movies and television shows, Ryanair proposed offering porn as well. "Hotels around the world have it, so why wouldn't we?" asked O'Leary. Probably because it would be weird to sit "next to some horny man watching people copulate on a little screen," says Brian Moylan at Gawker.
4. Eliminating the co-pilot
For the executive of an airline, O'Leary doesn't seem too concerned about air safety, suggesting that the standard allotment of two pilots per plane is one too many. "Let's take out the second pilot. Let the bloody computer fly it," he's said. Alternatively, he suggested that the flight attendants be trained to fly, so that they could step up to the plate in cases of emergency.
5. Having passengers load their own luggage
Luggage adds a lot of pounds to an aircraft, and many airlines have begun charging fees to discourage check-in bags. Ryanair took it one step further by suggesting that passengers haul their check-in luggage to the plane's belly, to save the airline the costs of paying baggage handlers and check-in personnel.
6. Removing all the seats
Spending a couple of hours in an airplane seat is no one's idea of fun, but what about having no seat at all? Ryanair has proposed ditching seats in favor of standing-only "berths." Instead of seat belts, passengers would use "handrails and straps" to secure themselves, O'Leary explained.
7. Charging for everything
Forget that complimentary bag of honey-roasted peanuts. On Ryanair you get charged for everything, including printing boarding passes at the airport, paying with your credit card, changing the name on a reservation, and in-flight food. Ryanair even considered charging overweight passengers a "fat tax."