Ryanair boarding passes: brickbats all round

The Telegraph is in high dudgeon about the cost of boarding passes on Ryanair, in a vastly entertaining article:

Ms McLeod, from Newbury, Berkshire, complained that on August 15 she was charged €300 (£236) to print out five boarding passes on a flight home from Spain.
For those following along from home, that's €60 per person for a piece of paper. Now, Ryanair's money-raising strategy (charge for anything that anyone does beyond breathing) is well-known; if you don't want to pay all the supplementary charges, don't fly on Ryanair. However, €60 for printing out a boarding pass from an automated machine is, for me, squarely in the territory of taking-the-piss. £60 (the fee for flights from the UK) is not even funny. If you want to talk about taxing the poor, this is a prime example.

But the plot thickens! Note that this was on the return leg of the journey:

Mrs McLeod said: "We went on holiday for 15 days and so I couldn't print the return boarding passes because you can only do that two weeks before the flight.
"I had the passes on my phone as pdf documents and thought this would be sufficient. What was originally meant to be a cheap holiday ended up costing a lot."
Interesting! Now even the cheap-arse domestic airlines in the USA allow you to present a QR code on your phone to the optical scanner at security and the gate; this is on the paper boarding pass but also included in the email they send you when you check in online. This rather sounds like Ryanair is deliberately ignoring money-saving technical advances in order to bilk customers of their money. Michael O'Learey is a very astute businessman, but clearly he's still an arsehole of at least the second order.

This story wouldn't be complete, however, without a little journalistic hyperbole:

She said the flights had been advertised at £166 per person but once priority seat allocation, baggage fees and the boarding passes had been paid for, the family had forked out £1,650.
A 10x markup! Horreur! But - hang on - isn't that first figure a per-person amount, and the second figure covers 5.5 people (one one-way flight)? So, given that 1-way tickets are seldom much cheaper than round-trips, that's £996 vs £1650. Expensive, sure, but much closer than the paragraph suggests. A hearty smack around the chops to article writers John-Paul Ford Rojas and Oliver Smith, then.

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