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Only halal meals on Emirates? Airbus A340 at Mahe / Seychelles International airport
But I notice on their menu cards provided before each meal, in small print at the bottom, they state all meals are halal. Don’t you think a ‘world’ airline like Emirates should respect non-Muslims and offer the choice of non-halal meat in their meals on their flights too? After all I find it deeply offensive to eat halal (or kosher) meat. Anyone else agree?…and I would love a nice pork sausage too!
When my wife and I last flew to Mahe we went with Air Seychelles from London. This is probably a case of too much information, but I won the tickets in a competition organised by the International Freight Weekly newspaper that is issued to our air freight industry. I have always found reading a newspaper or book whilst sat on the toilet helps as a case of mind over matter. So on this particular morning I had picked up a book that was on one of the children’s beds to read in the loo. It was The Guinness Book of Records. It happened to fall open on the nature section and amongst the other records my mind was taken off the job in hand as I read about the world’s largest seed and the largest reptiles of various types.
Later that day I was at work when the IFW landed on my desk Eventually I got round to flicking through it and 60 seconds later almost threw it in the bin. But a picture of paradise leapt off the back page at me. In the bottom corner was a little competition section and it said you could win two tickets on Air Seychelles to their paradise islands. It was a simple competition with just three questions.
I couldn’t believe it; Question 1: What is the largest seed in the world? F#c? me I only ready about that this morning while I was having a crap. It’s the Coco de Mer and it is found in the Seychelles. Bloody hell, do they need me to quote the Latin name too, because I know where to get that? (Lodoicea maldivica) .
Question 2: Where is the world’s largest tortoise found? My God, I know this one too. She’s called Esmerelda, and she’s an Aldabran Giant tortoise on Bird Island in the Seychelles. Do you want to know the Latin name and how old and heavy she is too?
OK this is looking good! Question 3: What is the capital of the Seychelles? EASY PEASY! I know that from my airfreight ‘geography’. It’s Victoria, and I also know it is the smallest Capital in the world.
One shit, and it seemed I was on the way to Paradise, but what were the chances someone else had decided to sit down and read The Guinness Book of Records? I waited nervously, consumed by the idea some other know-it-all had won the prize. But a fax arrived at work a couple of weeks later – I was the winner!
With three young children we couldn’t just abandon our kids, although the thought was mighty tempting, but we managed to get my parents to come down from Scotland and babysit for 5 days.
5 nights B& B at discounted rates at the Plantation Club which hosted Miss World was all we could afford, but we had a perfect holiday where for a few days my wife and I acted out Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It was just too brief.
Liz, my wife had got swollen legs on the 10 hour flight out, so when we checked in to return we were allocated seats in the same row as the emergency exit doors. Except they put is in the seats in the centre block, not the rows at the side of the aircraft near the windows on each side. This meant immediately in front of us was a ‘wall’ and as it went straight to the floor we actually had far less leg room than if there had been seats in front, under which we could have put our feet. To make matters worse we were surrounded by Scandinavians of one type or another who sat to either side and in the two rows behind. Smarty Pants, sat next to me, was one of the most vocal of the group shouting back to mates two rows behind, and I was already fed up with them before we took off. There he was dressed in pristine cream trousers, so puffed up and arrogant we hated him from the moment our eyes set on him! Unfortunately the plane was full and there were no seats we could move to….we would just have to tolerate this noisy group! I knew they were Scandinavian but could not work out the hurdy gurdy language, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, but all we could understand was when they took the piss out of the British. Smarty Pants next to me would say, “ Hurdy gurdy hurdy gurdy hurdy, I think I will have a little bit of everything” and three rows of Scandinavians would roar with laughter. Then another would go, “Hurdy gurdy hurdy gurdy hurdy, Red Snapper” and again the three rows of Scandinavians would fall about laughing fit to bust a gut. This irritated the hell out of us because we hadn’t a clue what was going on.
Things got to breaking point when the food was served They persisted to test my British sense of patience and good will by passing all sorts of items over my head to each other including trays of food, and pushing on the back of my se
Ryanair, the Irish middle class and why it’s only when it hurts us that we know it’s doing us good…
August 8, 2007
Posted by WorldbyStorm in Business,
A good review in the Irish Times at the weekend regarding a new book about Ryanair and Michael O’Leary by journalist Alan Ruddock.
Cormac O Grada, professor of economics at UCD, notes some of the intriguing paradoxes of O’Leary’s character and Ryanair itself.
As O Grada notes:
Journalist Alan Ruddock’s biography is emphatically not a rags-to-riches story: its subject’s background is Clongowes (“I was nobody at school”), and Trinity College Dublin (where he “learned very little”).
While an undergraduate at Trinity, O’Leary lived in a family-owned apartment and had enough pocket money to afford a “babe magnet” purple Mini.
After summers working behind the bar in an uncle’s hotel in Mullingar, O’Leary’s first real job was as a trainee tax accountant.
That would have made him rich in time, but he “wanted it faster”, and so his entrepreneurial career began with the purchase of a newsagent’s shop in Walkinstown.
The shop was open 16 hours a day on the basis of “treble your turnover, treble your money”.
Of course entrepreneurial activity can emerge in even the most unpromising soil, but it is hardly churlish to suggest that in this case it was well-irrigated, ploughed and tended soil.
But note the tone “…I was nobody at school”… Okay. Great.
The pain of an apartment must have been…painful. The confined space of the purple Mini, both painful and a foretaste of the confined cabin space of a typical Dublin – somewhere only a short hour and a half long bus ride away from Cologne flight.
And it is this pain that resonates – one suspects – to this very day. O’Leary took an intriguingly circuitous route into the airline industry, from shopkeeper in a newsagents in Walkinstown where he would ‘brag about charging the people of Walkinstown three times the normal price for batteries and chocolates on a Christmas Day”.
How lovely. Truly service and consumer oriented.
Lest we wallow in the financial pain of the denizens of Walkinstown, and later Crumlin and later still Terenure, where his nascent newsagent empire began to expand, our hero rapidly shifted away from the mundane world of Mars bars and the Sun.
In 1988 he became personal assistant to Tony Ryan and the rest as they say is history. Except it’s not.
Ryanair, which started out with two Viscount turboprops – hardly a fabulous step into the future of aviation, was actually in O’Leary’s sights initially.
He ‘urged his boss to close an airline that had lost ?2 million in its first year, or else sell it off to Aer Lingus.
Tony Ryan stubbornly refused…’.
But it is when we consider the supposed ‘low-cost’, ‘low frills’ aspects of the airline that we begin to see a strange Irish exceptionalism enter into the picture.
As O Grada notes:
The Ryanair “idea”, less about innovation than imitation, was not rocket science.
It took off after Tony Ryan sent his assistant to Texas to meet Herb Kelleher, co-founder and chief executive of Southwest Airlines.
Kelleher was already widely known in the US for running a highly successful, no-frills, low-fares airline.
His cost-cutting innovations included relying on smaller, out-of-the-way airports; open seating; no “free” meals or drinks; and running a fleet of identical planes (Boeing 737s). Sound familiar?
Southwest also had a flair for aggressive marketing, typified by its “Liar, Liar: Pants on Fire” advertising campaign against a rival carrier in 1992. To be fair, the idea of cheap air travel for the masses goes back further than even Southwest:
Kelleher had been inspired by the success of Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA, which later merged to become US Air), and had copied several of their ideas – including, it is said, their mini-dress cabin crew uniforms.
But, a point of divergence:
One message that clearly did not sink in, however, was Kelleher’s insistence that happy customers and profitability were compatible.
Southwest prides itself on being subject to proportionally fewer customer complaints than any other domestic airline, and the hard-drinking, larger-than-life Kelleher still holds that “we’re in the customer service business, and we happen to operate an airline”. Corporate priorities remain “employees first, customers second, shareholders last”.
We know the story from here, and O Grada summates it in a perfect couple of lines:
One wonders whether O’Leary’s contrasting stance – exemplified by his attitudes to customers who say their granny fell ill (“What part of ‘no refund’ do you not understand? You are not getting a refund, so f*** off”), and to Ryanair’s millionth passenger, whose prize of “free flights for life” he tried to renege on – might not be counterproductive. Ryanair’s uber-frugality and surly staff – the conviction that “nice costs money” – make it t
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