Credit card charge ban: not enough to scare Ryanair

Dec 23, 2011
Nigel Horne

Joy at credit card charge ban underestimates wily entrepreneurs like Michael O'Leary

HAVE the senior correspondents of our leading newspapers forgotten what it is like to book an airline ticket or buy a cinema ticket over the phone or online? Or to deal with the companies who offer these services? Their excited response to the government's vow to ban arbitrary credit and debit card charges certainly suggests they've fallen out of touch.

The Times calls Treasury minister Mark Hoban's announcement of the ban "the biggest consumer crackdown since internet shopping became popular" while The Daily Telegraph concludes its generally upbeat report by admitting that the ban is likely to be "vigorously opposed". Is that too late to be entered in the Understatement of the Year awards?

Anyone who thinks that a company like Ryanair, run by a man like Michael O'Leary, is going to accept a profit cut of approx £11.80 per passenger (that's the current card charge of £12 per person minus the approximate 20p it actually costs per transaction), then they are kidding themselves.

O'Leary will either find another name for the charge or invent a new levy. This after all is the man who has recently hiked Ryanair's famous "extras" to a degree excessive even by his standards.

Under the new rules, if you turn up to the airport carrying a 15kg bag you failed to pre-warn the airline about when you booked, it will cost £100 per bag in peak season (and that means this Christmas as well as next summer). That's an increase of 150 per cent on the previous charge of £40.

Forgot to print out your ticket before you left home? The old charge was £30 – it's now been doubled to £60.

O'Leary has plenty of other ideas he can fall back on if and when the ban on credit card charges come in. There's always that golden oldie of charging passengers to use the in-flight lavatories - often mooted, never actually imposed. Or there's the levy for fat passengers: weigh yourself at check-in and pay a fee for every pound you go over the mark. (Which would be what exactly? 11 stone, say? After all, O'Leary is a lean, mean man.)

Anyone who underestimates O'Leary's potential to brush aside Hoban's minor irritating proposition should take a look at this recent video of him (below) addressing Eurocrats in Brussels. He doesn't hold back.

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