Ryanair in safety probe as £10 emergency exit seats left empty
Airline's policy of refusing to allow travellers to sit near exits unless they pay might be a safety issue
RYANAIR is facing a safety probe over concerns that its £10 charge for extra legroom is leaving seats next to emergency exits empty.
The budget airline, notorious for its extra charges, refuses to allow passengers to sit in the first four rows or in those next to the emergency exits in the middle of the plane unless they have paid for the few extra inches of legroom.
According to the Daily Mail, not all travellers are willing to fork out the cash, leaving hundreds of flights with the emergency exit rows empty. The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is looking into concerns that there is consequently no one at hand to man the doors in an emergency.
Ryanair apparently relies on passengers in the surrounding rows to follow directions on how to open the doors if necessary.
One such passenger told the Daily Mail he was asked to ensure he knew how to open a door he could not even see. He suggested to the cabin crew that it would be easier if the people expected to man the exits were allowed to sit in the same row as the doors but was told the seats could only be used by people who had paid extra.
Describing the policy as "ludicrous and mean-spirited", he claimed: "They'd rather punish passengers for not paying extra than ensure there's someone readily at hand to man the emergency exit. Surely that's a safety issue."
A spokesman for Ryanair said the company did not believe it to be an issue as all passengers are provided with the same safety and evacuation information but that it would continue to discuss the matter with the IAA.
The no-frills airline, headed by Michael O'Leary, has been named the worst offender for charging optional extras by Which? magazine and has been at the centre of many controversies over its treatment of passengers in the past, including claims that cabin crew charged a man for tea and biscuits after he fell unconscious.