A low-budget European airline, Ryanair, is now offering tickets for business-class in an attempt to impress various governments and companies during financially difficult times. The tickets try to reconstruct a few of the airline’s more criticized policies for travelers that are overwhelmed by airline fees.
The company, based out of Dublin, has recently been the fastest growing airline in Europe by implementing a philosophy to sell tickets for cheap and build more customers. Ryanair recently mentioned that they hope to obtain around three-fourths of all passengers traveling between Ireland and Britain, its two largest markets.
The decision demonstrates not only the airline’s goal to leverage a bigger occupancy in Europe, but an increasing importance for low-budget executive travel as well. Most of the governments in Europe are continuing to cut down on debt and many companies remain cautious of spending extravagantly as the euro area recovery has stalled. More than a quarter of Ryanair’s passengers are already business travelers. By creating a business-class option as well as several other usually fee-heavy options, the airline hopes to increase that number.
The new policy will be a low-cost version of traditional business-class. It will allow preferential boarding, faster security lines at select airports, a checked bag with a weight of up to 20 kilograms, or 44 pounds, and even free flight changes, including on the day of planned travel. The free flight change policy has been put in place in hopes that business travelers would be persuaded to use the airline knowing that they could avoid penalties for altering a flight time at the last minute.
Currently, Ryanair typically only flies to smaller airports that are usually further away from the cities it serves and is not practical for business travelers that are pressed on time. The company has increasingly been trying to cut deals in order to open services at business airports across Europe, the most notable one being Zaventem, the European Union center in Brussels.
While Ryanair currently launches its new business-class ticket, prices will start around 69 euros, which is extremely competitive compared to other European airlines. The announcement of the company’s business-class on Wednesday increased Ryanair shares by 2.8 percent on the Irish Stock Exchange.
After undesirable results in 2013, the airline decided it could get more business if its policies started catering to what travelers actually wanted. Now, customers can purchase tickets online using a debit card without added fees, carry two bags on board, and automatically receive their seat assignment, as opposed to waiting in line for long periods of time to secure a position.
The company’s goal is to carry around 86 million people this year, which is 4.5 million more than they carried last year. Although Ryanair’s new tickets are flexible, usual perks that make business-class travel distinguishable are still missing. The airline does not have executive lounges, special menus, or reclining seats. Long flights and connections will also remain exhausting and nerve-wracking because the airline does not transfer bags in between flights. Although Ryanair is one of the cheapest European airlines with business-class tickets available, it might not be the best choice for connecting flights.
By Laura “Addi” Simmons