Aerlingus and Ryanair

Aerlingus is under threat of being taken over by Ryanair. Ryanair launched a takeover bid of Aerlingus' shares, in an effort to acquire more than 50% of Aerlingus shares.

I strongly hope that Ryanair is not successful in its takeover manouvre, for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, having two great low-cost air carriers is certainly good for customers. Customers can only benefit from competition between the two airlines. Ryanair and Aerlingus happen to compete on many airport and routes that I frequently use, with obvious advantages to my finances.

The Dublin-Milan route is serviced by both airlines, and having two companies competing with lower rates, promotional offers, and ticket sales makes flying home to see family and friends cheap and fun.

I have a great debt towards Ryanair. No, I do not own them money. The debt I am talking about is gratitude. Had Ryanair not pioneered the low-cost business model, I would have not been able to frequently commute between Milan and Dublin. At the time when Ryanair started offering flight at severely discounted flights, I lived in Turate, a small village just north of Milan, Italy. My loved one lived in Dublin.

As all of you know, long distance relationships are a very hard proposition. Low cost flights, offered by Ryanair, eased the pain of living a thousand miles apart.

However, I still hope Ryanair is unsuccessful in acquiring Aerlingus, because I very much prefer Aerlingus over Ryanair. Have you flown Ryanair recently? My greatest grievances with Ryanair can be summed up in a short list:

no flight to your actual destination
Having decided you want to fly to Milan, you book a Ryanair flight to Milan, and where do you end up? No, not in Milan, you end up in Bergamo, which an entirely different city, separated by an 80km long jam-packed highway. Maybe Ryanair makes all its money from customers who cannot make to their flight in time because the airport they fly to is completely different from their intended destination...

Have you ever flown to Paris with Ryanair. Well, if you have a choice, do not. I was unlucky enough to spend eight hours in Beauvais airport (Ryanair's Paris airport, even though it lies a good 1.5 hours from Paris). What really annoyed me is that Beauvais airport can't even be called an airport: it is just a somewhat large tent! It looks like a circus tent. I can only shudder at the thought of what security is like there... you just need a knife to cut through the plastic and you have turned yourself into a clandestine passenger.
no seat allocation
which translates in a cattle-style queuing at the boarding gate in the hope of finding a seat next to your travelling companions. Compare this with Aerlingus, which allows customers to pick their seat both online or at checkin times.
no free checked-in luggage
which encourages people to try and cram as much stuff as they can into their carry-on luggage. Or, even worse, to take more than one item of luggage on board. You have all experienced it, travelling with Ryanair feels more like taking a commuter train at rush hour than an airliner flight. Bags are crammed into the overhead lockers, with no care whatsoever for one's delicate items or carefully folded suit jacket.
no leg room or laptop room (seat in your face)
no hope of using a laptop in-flight: the seat in front of you is just too close. I once managed to use my laptop for about an hour. I did it by breathing in all the time, creating just enough room between my stomach and the seat in front of me to open up my laptop. No need to describe how awkward typing was.
artificially long flight times to make up for delays
comparing flights to and from the same airports, you will find that Ryanair allocates more time than Aerlingus. By artificially inflating flight times, they attempt to make up for possible delays. It is always amusing to hear other passengers' surprise at the captain's announcement that the flight will take much less time than they though it would according to the flight schedule.
but the inflated flight times do not always work. Evening flights are almost invariably delayed.
flight attendants
do not seem to get enough breaks. Are not as professional and accomodating as Aerlingus staff. I might be biased here.
lousy website (getting better)
man, what is it with blue and yellow colors!