The founder of highly controversial – and highly successful – European low cost airline Ryanair, Michael O’Leary always has something to say, even if much of it is unprintable. He’s hated by many, but loved by some for his unfailing ability to come up with a spur-of-the-moment quote that grabs a headline, even if some of the words must be replaced by asterisks.
A new book has been published featuring some of the ‘highlights’ of O’Leary’s public pronouncements. Fittingly, it’s titled Plane Speaking: The Wit & Wisdom of Michael O’Leary. Here are a few, um, highlights:
On his very clear refund policy: “You’re not getting a refund, so **** off.”
On ‘passengers of size’: "Nobody wants to sit beside a really fat ****** on board. We have been frankly astonished at the number of customers who don’t only want to tax fat people but torture them."
On what to expect as a Ryanair passenger: "Anyone who thinks Ryanair flights are some sort of bastion of sanctity where you can contemplate your navel is wrong. We already bombard you with as many in-flight announcements and trolleys as we can. Anyone who looks like sleeping, we wake them up to sell them things."
On travel agents: "Screw the travel agents. Take the ******* out and shoot them. They are a waste of bloody time. What have they done for passengers over the years?"
On a plan for standing room only flying: "I’d love to operate aircraft where we take out the back ten rows and put in hand rails. We’d say if you want to stand, it’s five euros. People say ‘Oh but the people standing may get killed if there’s a crash’. Well, with respect, the people sitting down might get killed as well."
On Michael O’Leary: “I’m probably just an obnoxious little bollocks. Who cares?”
While The Economist has written that Ryanair “has become a byword for appalling customer service,” it has also become the third largest airline in Europe by passenger numbers and the largest airline in the world in terms of international passenger numbers. Why? Most likely because average fares are around £32 or $50. Or, in O’Leary speak: “The European consumer would crawl naked over broken glass to get low fares.”