You won’t believe this - but it’s true.
Nothing’s been changed to protect the guilty.
Lionel Powell & I planned to fly RyanAir to Gatwick from Cork. We were going over on Sunday to an opera @ Glyndebourne. [L’Elisir d’amore] The flight was scheduled to leave at 1255. We got to Cork Airport in plenty of time.
I haven’t flown much in the last year.
I forgot that, when you check-in on-line, you don’t go to the check-in desk. Re-directed by the RyanAir women, we sat for coffee in the cafe before security. We took our time because I was in no hurry. Lionel was a bit twitchy.
Thru security, we lingered in the "Duty Free" shop.
My friend, who’d hardly ever been to an opera, bought fragrance. As far as I was concerned, we were in plenty of time; the plane wasn’t due off for ages: twas only 1235 when we reached the boarding gate.
There was hardly anyone at the boarding gate except three RyanAir staff.
"Is this the flight to Gatwick?" I asked, registering the scarcity of travellers.
"It’s shut. You should have been here at 1225", the RyanAir woman said. She pointed to the self-printed boarding sheet.
Shock. Disbelief. Horror. Oh shit…
"Please ask them if they’ll open up for us" said Lionel. I was dumb, delivering a litany of curses, internally.
"I’ll try, but they never do."
"Please" was all I could add to proceedings.
The RyanAir woman phoned someone. I could hear her being told the flight was shut. I was almost in the phone. "Only the pilot can allow that now".
"OK. Thanks" replied our woman, "I’ll ask". She rang another number. "Please" & "Oh thank you" I pleaded, feeling lost, numbly clutching a straw.
"Hi. We have two more here. Would you mind asking the captain if he would let them on, please?"
I had time to visualise several nasty consequences of my foolish inexperience: whatever we’d do we would not turn back into Cork…
"He says send them down, but that’s it." As far as I was concerned, the most needy person could be locked out now, we were on, on, on.
What? Did I really hear that? Lionel was already striding on - me muttered nothing but "thank you, thank you, thank you very much…"
This is what went thru my head:
"Oh my God… What’s going on? This can’t be happening. This has never happened. In the whole history of RyanAir, no pilot has ever opened a closed door. Is the company going soft? Will they all lose their jobs if I blog about this? Should I sell my RyanAir shares? (Joking: I don’t think I have any.) Wow. This is amazing. Damn it, I can’t go on Twitter on the plane and tell others…"
There were RyanAir people at the bottom of the stairs. I thanked them. I thanked the next RyanAir woman on the plane. It was almost full.
Fortunately, I was separated from Lionel on the plane. We hadn’t spoken a word to each other.
I needed time to compose myself. Squeezed into a middle seat, for once I spoke to no one on the plane. By the time we got to Gatwick, "another RyanAir flight on time", I’d persuaded myself the gods had sent me the experience of a lifetime.
I bet there isn’t a single person in the whole world who’s ever had a similar experience.
Do you believe the story?
PS If this is the result of a RyanAir step-change-in-culture programme, I’d like someone to pass this story on to Michael O’Leary.