Michael O’Leary, chief executive of the European budget airline Ryanair, is hardcore about saying no:
Ryanair promises four things: low fares, a good on-time record, few cancellations and few lost bags.
“But if you want anything more — go away! Will we put you in a hotel room if your flight was canceled?” Mr. O’Leary asked rhetorically. “No! Go away.”…
“Will we give you a refund on a nonrefundable ticket because your granny died unexpectedly?” he asked. “No! Go away. We’re not interested in your sob stories! What part of ‘no refund’ do you not understand?”
Miss your flight because you had to wait too long at a Ryanair help desk? Too bad! Your luggage is slightly overweight? Throw away the excess, or wear it on the flight! Try to tote your duty-free purchases onto the plane in a shopping bag, when you already have a carry-on bag? Prepare to fork over $40 at the gate.
Sounds like a bad experience in many ways (Southwest manages to take a similar approach without coming off as hostile to customers). But a lot of people only really care about those four things Ryanair promises to deliver. By pleasing that core group, Ryanair is managing to do something that most airlines find impossible right now: It’s turning a profit and growing the number of passengers it flies.