Why everyone should try flying with Ryanair and United Airlines at least once

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Love and hate are very strong words. And I’m a very strong person. I love flying. I love travelling. But I hate some airlines and some airports.

The only reason for their horrible existence is to act a springboard for personal development. They are places where you are forced to dig deep to find something positive in a negative situation that tastes as bitter as a million lemons.

We all have our priorities in life. At my stage in life my priority is about being pro-human. The experience I get from people, brands and services is more important to me than how much they cost. I want things to be pleasant and I don’t understand why they shouldn’t be that way. That’s why Ryanair and United Airlines are the essence of what I don’t hate in my life!

I treat my job seriously. At Izmalkowa Consulting, earning our clients trust means everything, that’s why we work extremely hard to keep it. I know that Clients don’t just do research because they are curious about what the work of researchers looks like and what everyday life is like for the people who buy their brand. We work for people who often don’t have time to eat breakfast and only get to eat lunch while stuck in a traffic jam. We work for people who are totally oriented on success and perfection. The countless discussions, comments, improvements and workshops have taught me three basic attitudes towards work:

  • if you do something, do it the best you can
  • if you can do it better – you have to do it better
  • if something is wrong, it has to be noticed and fixed

I know that everyone knows these slogans from work, advertisements and handbooks of marketing.  But while they are only slogans for some, for us they are reality.

I know that everyone knows these slogans from work, advertisements and handbooks of marketing.  But while they are only slogans for some, for us they are reality.

The are some observations that come back like a boomerang irrespective of the category in which we’re doing the research.  Almost every organization has some employees who fall into the following types:

  • those who treat their job as punishment. They glance at their watches so often that they lack time to think what can be done better.
  • the maximalists – those who don’t think that good is good enough. Maximalists reach high positions in life – and therefore obtain lots of power. They are where they are because they don’t believe that good is good enough and are constantly searching for something that can be even better.
  • those who turn a blind eye to things that are wrong. They do this because they can’t be bothered wasting energy and they don’t believe that things can be changed. Besides, they believe that it’s not their job to change things. Most of these people are hired by Ryanair and United Airlines and a few other airlines (like Vietnam airlines)

The philosophy of observing is in my blood – I do it even when I’m not paid to. I think that Ryanair and United Airlines need Izmałkowa Consulting more than other company on earth, but that’s another story. I’m an optimist and I think that you can always draw something positive out of anything that’s negative. Here I’m sharing some of my observations that are proof that any person using these airlines even just once can learn something useful for themselves.


  1. Learning empathy

I think that all Ryanair’s airports were designed to bring us back to Nazi Germany in 1940. A trip through their airport teaches you true empathy by letting you experience some of the horrors that people had to endure back then. What a generous airline they are. They may charge you an arm and a leg for an extra kilo of baggage, but Ryanair provide all passengers with free education in return by allowing them to experience what it is like to be treated by a group of Nazi’s in 2016.

For the best Nazi experience, I recommend the London City Airport. Forget the English politeness of a Hugh Grant movie. The training of the staff there was surely based on a Nazi movie – they are very good at reacting them. They so good that it is hard to tell whether it’s real or a movie. Do you remember polite words and expressions such as “please”, “thank you”, “could you” or “would it be possible” that you were taught during English lessons? Well, bear in mind that they do not exist in the dictionary’s of Ryanair’s staff.

They also stole one other feature of Nazi Germany – creating a state within a state, that is, a whole list of rules that are valid only in that specific place.

“What is that?” a man from Ryanair asked me, giving me a menacing and wary look. Looking at his face I was afraid that someone planted a bomb in my backpack. But no. I was still seeing what I saw before… a vanity bag. So, according to the truth, I answered:

–  That’s a vanity bag.

– Why are the liquids not in a plastic bag?

Since the vanity bag was very small (yes, that was an unusual situation, but true nonetheless), I didn’t know whether my knowledge of English was failing me or this was some joke.

– There are no liquids here.

– And what are these then? he asked, with a face expressing a mixture of satisfaction and disdain, while showing me my eyeliners.

–  These are eyeliners” I said, again according to the truth.

– They are liquids! Each liquid has to be packed into a separate bag.

– Since when have eyeliners become liquids? I mean, it weighs no more than 5mg.

Irrespective of that, I had to take out my laptop, iPad, camera and cables.

– Why am I supposed to take out every single eyeliner and pack it into a plastic bag?

And here came the voice that parodied Hitler.

– Because the rules say so! – shouted the little man, unsettling everyone around, wondering whether a terrorist had just been apprehended.

– Please get out of the queue and go to the side to repack your things!

– But I really can repack it here, because putting two eyeliners into bags does not require such great concentration that I have to walk away from here.

– Please step to the side and don’t talk to me. Otherwise I’ll charge you with racism, insubordination, ignoring orders and refusing to board the plane.

From that point onwards things were only getting worse – but there’s no point in writing more about it.

If you’re interested in the history of dictatorships, you should definitely borrow the training manual published for Ryanair’s employees.

Things are similar on American airlines. Although the difference is that you’re entitled to expect more – after all you pay a lot more money for a ticket, so the least they can do is to be a little more polite. But no. Politeness is a thing that you see only in their safety videos and advertisements.

– Please remove the earphones from your ears immediately.

– But I’m not listening to music – I need to have my ears plugged because it’s very cold here”. That might sound a bit absurd, but it was a fact. Sometimes I forget to take my hat with me.

– Please remove them immediately! The rules say that you can’t be listening to music during the take-off.

– But I’m not listening to music – just take a look at my iPhone.

– Miss, do you want to leave this plane? Because I can make sure this is what will happen. I will call the captain if you don’t remove your earphones immediately.

Then there was a comment about taking pictures (you can’t take selfies because some other person is afraid that they might be included on the picture and that’s also forbidden). Then another comment about improper placement of my bag. And then another about my seatbelt not being fastened (it was buckled, but the airhostess has the right not to be right, right?). And all of this was barked at me, like some Nazi giving orders. Disagreement will not be accepted

2. To understand what the word “embarrassing’ really means

United Airlines – have you seen their advertisements? Have you heard how they welcome people on board? They’re so glad that you’ve chosen to fly with them. They’re so proud that they can provide us with a happy experience. They are so happy and so eager to help you – you just have to let them know.


So I did. I had a bag, a backpack, a coffee, a ticket and my passport in my hand. So I asked for help in putting the small bag with photo equipment above my seat. When they offer help (like they do in their ads ) and my hands are so busy, then why not take advantage of their wonderful hospitality and kindness? A man from the staff pointed to the only free space in the upper drawer. It was the only free space there, so I’d have to be blind not to see it.

“I see it, thank you. But I wanted you to help me put my luggage there, because I haven’t got a single free hand.”

“You need to do this on your own. I won’t risk breaking my spine.”

Right, no one should take such risks. How could I have been so silly to think that the help that they offer actually consists of some actual physical help? Isn’t it obvious that ‘Ask for help if you need it’ is only a metaphorical expression without real meaning? It’s pathetic that a 180cm tall guy refuses to lift a bag that a 167 cm tall girl can carry together along with the rest of her luggage. I guess that’s the American way of being a gentleman. I doubt that American feminists demanded that well mannered gentlemen also go up in flames when they were burning their bras. That’s not what they were fighting for, but that’s what they got. But the most pathetic situation I ever experienced was when I was leaving the plane. I was in business class so I thought that service was going to justify the high ticket price. There was an old man who asked for help with his bag. He looked at least 70 (and as it turned out later he was a 76-year-old former diplomat that had worked in Cuba). He was tiny and very kind. But the only thing he heard was:

“It’s not a part of our duties to help passengers with their bags.”

I was glad to do my duty as a human being and help this man lift his bag to the exit. A duty? Seriously? Not helping a 70-year-old man?

On the other hand, I witnessed an older lady on Ryanair feeling unwell. When she ased for some water to help her swallow her medicine, the service said that sure, no problem, but “the water costs 3 euros”. Maybe it’s a strategy of these airlines to create robots out of people, because robots are easier to control.

3. To understand what advertisement is

An advertisement only shows us the reality that it wants us see. You look at it and see a dream experience. But you should try flying with one of these airlines to learn the true definition of an advertisement. On United Airlines the crew is divided into Brazilian and American group. The American crew can be easily spotted. They only speak English! Taking into account that 90% of passengers are Brazilians, each questions ends up with them talking louder and louder in English (right, because the louder you yell, the more people will understand you. Even if they don’t know your language). Or they call someone from the Brazilian crew when a “dumb” passenger is stubbornly trying to have a conversation. When the Americans do not understand the menu:

– Pasta or carne

They repeat: “Pasta or carne”

– I’m sorry, what is it?

– Well, he told you, so – ravioli or carne?

I understand that they’re so happy that they know one word in Spanish that they can’t help repeating it, but for the 10% of Americans who are not lucky enough to know it they could make an effort and learn it in their native language. They have “meat” or “beef” to chose from, whichever they find easier.

IMG_42294. To appreciate the value of a smile…

The employees of these airlines do not understand the concept of smiling. Every single one of them looks as if they are made work as a punishment. If you want to see a single smile on a crew member during your 8-hour flight you need to watch their advertisement or look in a mirror and smile at yourself. Once I saw an Ryanair employee smiling and I was so happy that I told him that I’m very content to finally find someone with a smile on their face.

– But I’m always like that.

– Even better! I’m very glad that you’re so happy.

– Most people usually think I’m grinning nastily, because I often hear – ‘Why are you smiling if you’re working in Ryanair? Is something wrong?’ And I’m simply smiling most of the time.

Hooray for the one rare employee of Ryanair who smiles despite working there.

5. To understand why corporations need a dress code

I understand that Americans are a very relaxed nation, but there are some boundaries of decency that shouldn’t be stepped over. I’m not a fan of uniforms and in Izmałkowa Consulting we don’t have a dress code (well, ok, that’s a lie – we do have it but wearing green is the only requirement), but I think that United Airlines convinced me that I might be wrong. Some things should be imposed on aircrew in order to save the passengers certain unpleasant views. On one flight, while Brazilian stewards were wearing ties so you could easily differentiate them from passengers, the American steward had a shirt unbuttoned so much that the whole plane got to admire his hairy chest. Perhaps it was “relaxed dress code” day? Or maybe it was his punishment to us because he had to work while we fly?

To sum up… Although I always prefer to pay a little extra not to have to fly with Ryanair or United Airlines (only putting myself through the torture if I have absolutely no other option) I recommend that everyone should try using their services at least once.

There’s so much you can learn from it. About history, life and the difference between the world they portray in advertisements and the real world. If instead of spending all that money on advertising they would spent it on some better HR or hiring nice people who DO NOT HATE their job – wouldn’t that result in better business?

Normally I wouldn’t write this text because it’s not the first or it won’t be the last unpleasant experience I have at an airport, but it happens every time I use these airlines. So maybe it’s a pattern rather than a coincidence. I’m curious what your experiences are and if you’ve experience more kindness than me. Or maybe I’m just less lucky? However, we won’t know until these companies decide to do some decent research. I’m up for it. For my own good and for the good of mankind as well. We’ll even given them a discount, greet them in neat clothes with big smiles on our faces.


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