Ryanair: Too Little, Too Late?

29/10/2013 09:36 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 23:58 GMT

Fresh from the begrudging and none too sincere promise from Michael O'Leary that Ryanair is going to be much nicer to its customers in the future and show it's caring, cuddly side, (one could almost see the hands of the irate shareholders twisting his arm), comes the announcement that Ryanair is going to slash some of its much maligned fees and charges. Extra baggage fees, boarding pass charges and a vague hint at being more tolerant of minor booking errors are all on the cards.

But as Ryanairs shareholders and famously swaggering front man panic in the face of increasing public criticism and plummeting margins, is it really a case of too little too late for the notorious budget airline?

The general public are intelligent enough to understand that a business needs to make profit in order to survive, and frugal enough to sacrifice a few frills for a good ticket price, but they are also not fools and don't like it when they are taken for one.

For a long time the public has put up with a complete dearth of any basic human comfort or consideration on Ryanairs flights as people get crammed in like cattle - only without the legal rights -flight announcements and gimmicks that have turned the once glamorous form of travel into a chavvy practical joke, impossibly complex booking systems that seem designed to trap you, extortionate fees, fines, taxes and charges that make the so called budget fares no cheaper than larger quality airlines and let's not forget Ryanairs infamous customer service. It is hardly any wonder the general public have had enough. Ryanair for a long time have engaged in tactics that in O'Leary's own words have 'pissed the public off'.

All people want from an airline is fair and reasonable fares without any of the wildly swinging rates and charges, a straightforward booking system with no tricks or cheats designed to con us out of more money, no extra charges for things that should be reasonably expected such as carrying a reasonable amount of luggage, and finally a comfortable flight with none of the usual airline frustrations. Is that too much to ask?

For Ryanair at least, it would seem that it is.

The general public are becoming so belligerent in their feelings toward the way airlines in general treat them that their tolerance for Ryanair's particularly infamous business model is at an all time low, and it will take far more than a gritted tooth apology and a few token gestures to change their minds.

This is something that many of the larger carriers should take very careful note of too. As many of the more established airlines argue for the introduction of individual ticket pricing and begin moving toward the O'Leary business model of adding fees and charges for every little convenience, they should keep in mind that the public are only just beginning to show their frustration and the panic of Ryanair's shareholders at a plummeting reputation and profits is just the start of that.

The question for Ryanair now, is if these gestures are enough to reverse their plummeting reputation and renew the public's faith in the budget airline?