The famous saying goes "There's no such thing as bad publicity", as airlines nowadays are getting more and more savvy towards social media and personalised advertising campaigns there is still one airline which stands out above all when it comes to generating headlines: Ryanair.
And how do they do this? Is it through television advertisements, crowd sourcing campaigns or Facebook competitions? Nope, just good old-fashioned PR & controversy.
Led by CEO Michael O'Leary, these campaigns often shock and entice the nations press to inadvertently promote the Ryanair brand. Here are the top 10 I’ve come across when researching for the World Low Cost Airlines Congress where we're very excited to welcome Michael and ask him a question or two about some of these campaigns.
You can take a look at his biography here, trust me, you won't be disappointed.
If there’s any I’ve missed, please comment below and I’ll update the list.
1. Ryanair toilet charges – April 2010
It was announced in 2010 that Ryanair would charge Â£1/â¬1 for passengers to use the toilet. Michael O'Leary stated that "This would fundamentally lower air fares by about five percent for all passengers". Seeing as thought there is actually no legal stipulation for an airline to provide toilets it seemed likely this may ago ahead but the idea was dropped in 2011.
2. O'Leary leaves Ryanair for new job as pope
This advert appeared in the Irish Examiner in February right around the time Pope Benedict resigned.
3. Ryanair allows mobile phone use
Ryanair began to allow passengers to use their mobile phones in-flight, using similar equipment that had been used by Emirates in 2009. Always one to promote a new product Michael dressed as a mobile phone (see picture).
4. Ryanair charity calendar
Now world famous, the calendar produced by Ryanair every year features actual cabin crew members in bikinis and can generate up to â¬100,000 for charity. Not one to be out dressed Michael fashioned a bikini himself for the 2010 edition.
5. St Patricks Day
Ryanair announced in 2010 they would have a St Patricks Day Hangover Seat Sale, offering seats at a 50 per cent discount on all routes for travel in April and May.
6. Sue over security
In 2006 Michael issued an ultimatum to the government to restore normal security procedures at British airports or face legal action. In true style he did this at a press conference with a Winston Churchill lookalike standing with a British flag.
7. BA Fuel Surcharges
In 2005 O'Leary donned a highwayman's white wig and black cloak to highlight what he, then, described as British Airway's âskyway robbery'.
8. Ryanair's plan for standing-only plane tickets
Ryanair had planned to test standing-only cabins in 2012 but they were thwarted by an unnamed regulator who refused an application for test flights. Michael stated that "We have asked the question could we run some trials on this and the immediate response is somewhat negative" but thinks "ultimately it would happen" in the future.
9. Single Pilot Planes
Michael suggested in September 2010 that Ryanair planes could fly with one pilot only, even suggesting that air stewardesses could land planes in an emergency.
10.Ryanair Fat Tax
Way before Samoa Air began their âFat Tax' charges, Ryanair were mooting this in 2009. After surveying their customers they found that more than 30,000 of them felt the best cost-reducing idea was to charge excess fees for very overweight passengers.
Interested in what type of intriguing (and surely controversial) campaigns might be heading our way in the near future? Then join and hear from the man himself Michael O'Leary who will be interviewed by the BBC's Stephen Sackur on stage at the World Low Cost Airlines Congress.
To find out more about the event, please download the brochure here >