In the game of budget air travel, Ryanair always has the last laugh. Although I support the airline for the mere fact that it can get me where I want to go pretty cheaply, it took me until my most recent trip to Ibiza to experience the notorious ¨Ryanair¨ travel style.
After 3 glorious days and nights in the undisputed house music capital of the world (post on that to come), it was time to head back to Spain´s central plateau, and my home of Madrid late Sunday afternoon. After arriving at Ibiza´s tiny airport (think Burbank, California´s Bob Hope airport, but with Duty Free shops selling house music CDs) with a good 90 minutes to spare before take-off.
My buddy and I decided we´d kick off a ¨social experiment¨ by being the 2nd group of people to line-up at the gate – and watched hundreds follow in less than two minutes. All of this occurred, of course, before any Ryanair representatives appeared. I was anxious to get home and figured might as well be the first ones on, sit in the front row, jump off the plane, and be on the metro before the people in the last row have nabbed their luggage from the overhead compartment.
After handing over our boarding passes, we realized that we were going to have to take a small bus to our aircraft, even though it was situated about 200 m from the gate itself. Whatever. As we head out of the bus, we were told we´d have to board from the back only, but then a stewardess waved us up the front staircase so we nabbed the first two seats on the plane. We watched as a woman in her late 80s struggled up the stairs with a cane, without so much as an arm to lean on from Ryanair. Typical.
Our flight was scheduled to take off at 17:00. Around 17:15 (that´s 5:15 pm for those of you who haven´t made the jump to military time – I´m a convert. Never again will I accidentally sleep through an alarm that doesn´t go off because I confused am and pm) we receive an announcement saying that ¨too many people boarded the plane. Can everyone check their boarding passes and make sure they are heading toward Madrid?¨ A few curse words, chuckles, and confused glances later, the doors close and we´re cleared for take-off. Mildly disconcerting from a security standpoint, but it was probably some guy´s hung-over mistake that cost us a 45 minute delay in departure.
When we finally land in Madrid, I´m literally the first person ready off the plane. Standing, waiting for the front doors to open, when yet another announcement comes across the loudspeaker. Because Ryanair is an Irish company, the announcement is in English first. ¨Passengers, please exit through the rear doors only.¨ I burst out laughing. ¨What a joke!¨ No one else reacts. Oh, that´s right, this is Spain and the English levels are abysmal. The Spanish version comes on right after. The tension in the cabin escalates. One irate man screams ¨¡JODER! ¿Porqúe no nos dices esto antes?…Pero bueno!¨ I genuinely felt bad for the people suckered into purchasing ¨priority boarding¨ who were literally the last people off the plane, but I felt even worse for that old woman, seated in the row across from mine.
When I finally disembark, I find two completely filled buses waiting to take us back to the terminal (again, an easy 100 m away). Eight of us remained without transporation, so we had to wait for a third bus to come and pick us up. The Ryanair stewardess was laughing, and that old woman with her cane didn´t look too stoked. I heard a couple of Spanish toddlers murmur ¨hay mucha gente!¨ when they saw the first two buses.
Finally, after a total of an hour of delays for a 45 minute flight, I was back in Madrid. This marks what is likely my last Ryanair flight for this time in Europe, and I check that off my list feeling somewhat relieved I was able to truly fly the Ryanair way, at least once.