Ryanair No Longer To Fly To La Rochelle, Nantes Or Angouleme Out Of Season

Those people that moved to France and commute are just about to hear a bombshell, our friends Ryanair who have been serving our local airports for years and years have just pulled out. Bang. No emails to those already booked, nothing, just pulled the plug. Ryanair stopped flying to La Rochelle, Nantes and Angouleme outside summer season.

So my parents who have booked in November and December, will “get a refund”, yet have not, at the time of writing even had en email confirming the route closure. Nor does it mention this anywhere on any other site as far as I can see.

I have confirmed with la Rochelle airport that Ryanair are no longer flying there between November and April nor are they flying to Nantes or Angouleme. The only airport they are going to fly to is Poitiers “out of season”. So those packed flights I have travelled on from La Rochelle to Stansted all year have clearly not been making any money. Yes, packed flights.

I have looked into it and I can get a train to Poitiers or even drive which is two hours each way or jump the train to Bordeaux..how about the rest of the regular commuters, what do you intend doing? What about the thousands of gites and small businesses in the region that rely on the English tourism?

I am shocked and wonder if this route cancellation will mean we will have to move back to Blighty or to the USA..

UPDATE: I have since found out that Ryanair are letting 850 people go from their operations and a travel insider has emailed me to tell me that Ryanair are in so much financial trouble they could be going bust. This is an unconfirmed rumour but would make a little sense as to why they are scrapping very busy flights.

Oh No…Ryanair To Introduce A New Fee – We Decide..

Just checking out the Ryanair website to see if any new route announcements or deals are out there as I need to fly back to London shortly.  I noticed this:-

Ryanair, Europe’s largest low fares airline, today (8 Apr) announced that it received over 12,000 suggestions from passengers as part of the low fares airline’s competition to suggest a discretionary revenue charge which would help lower Ryanair’s costs and reduce its guaranteed lowest fares even further.

The top five suggestions are:
  1. €1 for toilet paper – with O’Leary’s face on it,
  2. €2 “corkage” fee for passengers who bring their own food,
  3. €5 annual subscription to access Ryanair.com,
  4. €3 to smoke in a converted toilet cubicle,
  5. Excess fees for overweight passengers based on body mass index.

I hope they select number 1 – what are the bets the competition is fixed, with choices 2 and 3 being those submitted by Ryanair?  Cast your vote here

Ryanair – How NOT to go about customer service?

I have just finished a telephone “conversation” with Ryanair and have to come to the conclusion that they are the worst company for after sales support anywhere.

For those of you reading this from outside Europe, Ryanair is a low cost airline, offering flights around Europe for as little as $1 each way..

First problem they have is the total lack of anyway to contact them by email.  Before you fly, you are forced to either view their FAQ’s or call either their reservation centre (at £0.10 per minute, here is the kicker, it always takes a minimum of 5 minutes to get to actually speak to anybody) or their internet support team at a whopping £1 per minute..

You see, dear reader, this is the clever part, when using Ryanair, the problems are generally Internet related.  Their site recently relaunched and frankly the relaunch was dreadful, they removed half the features, emails were not being sent to confirm one had made a booking and the site crashed continuously.  So my latest Ryanair experience was another web related issue.  I checked in online and the site automatically picked up my birthday as my passport expiry date, it did so just after the page crashed on me, clearly indicating another Ryanair web problem.

What to do?

I called the £1 per minute line and (not surprisingly) the call was answered straight away, they don’t want you hanging around, at £1 per minute, they want you talking to them..

So the guy that answered started off angrily asking me what my home address was and what telephone number I used on the booking, standard security questions.  I then told him the problem and asked if he could manually change the passport date “No Sir, you screwed up and inputted the wrong date”, not the kind of language I would expect to hear coming from a £1 per minute support desk.  I explained the site crashed on inputting details and maybe this was the problem?  “No, you inputted incorrectly”, this is strange because I travel with them twice per week and I kind of know how the site works!  So I dared to question the stability of the site and the fact the link was a dead one not a link to online checking in, the “support” guy then replied “we have zero problems on our site, so it is user error”.  So, instead of trying to look at the situation, I am repeatedly told it is my fault.  And then, and this is the point I had to blog about, he hung up.  The guy was so helpful and friendly that he actually cut the conversation and hung up the phone.

So, Ryanair, answer me this, how do you train your staff, in fact, are they trained?  I have never ever been called a liar and been hung up on when calling customer services, ever, and doubt any of my readers have either.  At what point does all the bad publicity online make you sit up and take a look at the underlying issues?

Now, to make a complaint, I am told that I must fax a Dublin based number and wait for a response.  FAX?  FAX?  The last time I faxed this number was when my suitcase was destroyed by baggage handlers, at the airport the charming lady told me to..wait for it..FAX.. I never had a reply then either.  I have got four solutions for Ryanair, if they did these I think the general public would feel happier and actually recommend their services not the other way round:-

1. Have a general email support – send the person emailing an automated case number and a contact telephone number to chase after 5 working days if not resolved.

2. Have an emergency email support – as above but offer a premium rate number to call if no response within 12 hours.

3. Make staff use their names, that way the customer can note the name of the staff member, note the case number and you can either re-train the staff member or in the case above, fire the staff that are rude and clearly destroying your brand.

4. Employ someone to simply check all blogs/forums and complaints online and actually leave comments and interact with users/customers, offer rewards for good feedback.  Many airlines in the US do that, and they are learning that us customers don’t actually want to complain, we simply just want help or support.

Ryanair does what it says on the tin, you pay peanuts for short flights, you don’t go on board expecting anything apart from a seat and an affordable way to get around Europe.  But when things go wrong, they should and must get their act together, I am not an isolated case and would love to write a good review on Ryanair one day.  In fact if they ever come back to me because of this blog post, I will write a follow up.

Would any other business be in existance  with customer service like this?

Can you imagine ordering a sofa online and the system has a bug, and you end up ordering the wrong size or colour?  Can you imagine having to pay £1 per minute to be told it was your fault, tough luck..?

I’d love to hear your examples (if you have any) of bad customer service, I’d be amazed if you could beat mine.  but then again, nothing surprises me anymore!

A blog meet-up on the beach?

Friends of ours own some amazing gites in La Rochelle and have finally set up a blog and website to promote them a bit. They have some free slots available this summer so take a look by clicking here!

La Rochelle has hundreds and possibly thousands of holiday homes available to rent and this year with 11 direct flights from the UK and Ireland, La Rochelle is set to be busier then ever. If you wanted to have a relaxing week or two surrounded by sunflower fields, our pals gites are perfect (this year in any case, the crops can be rotated!).

What is a gite? It is basically a self-contained house or apartment (generally house with large grounds) with every utensil required to spend a few weeks living like a local or relaxing in peace. In the USA I guess these are called Villas or Condo’s to rent?

Why am I promoting their website and blog? They are friends, I want their website and business to succeed and more importantly, would love to meet more fuelmyblog people in La Rochelle this summer. Thomas Hamburger Jnr is popping in for a cafe, who else?!

So this got me thinking of hosting a blog meet up on the beach in La Rochelle, with free wine and wifi organised and we could even live blog it! Here is a link to the local airport, ryanair are a great source of cheap flights, I fly with them almost weekly and often pay £30 return including tax.. So now there is no excuse, free wine, oysters and wifi, with my friend’s gite and hopefully good company, this could be a Pimms moment!

Take a look at the gite if interested, drop them a line. If you fancy meeting up in La Rochelle, drop me one 😉