Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary calls Facebook critic “an idiot”

Michael O'Leary: Apparently never one to miss an own goal Ryanair chief executive, Michael O’Leary, has called the woman who racked up 560,000 likes, for her Facebook post about excessive charges, an idiot.

After being charged €300 by Ryanair for printing six boarding passes Suzy McLeod  posted on Facebook asking people to like her post if they thought the charges were unfair.

And like it they did. In a couple of days she had more than 350,000 likes. That has now risen to more than 500,000. O’Leary though is unimpressed and he laid into the woman at a press conference yesterday.

O’Leary made fun of McLeod for falling to find an internet cafe in Alicante to print out her boarding passes.

According to the Independent O’Leary said that 99.98% of Ryanair passengers print their boarding passes in advance:

“To those who don’t, we say quite politely: ‘Bugger off’ ”. He added that Ms McLeod had written to him requesting compensation and “a gesture of goodwill”, and he had responded by saying: “It was your fuck-up”.

O’Leary is undoubtedly one of a kind. Who else would think to behave like this or get away with it?

I’m guessing that his PR and marketing team have little or no influence over him and he feels no pressure to change his ways.

You get an impression of that from something else he also said yesterday: “Within a day, she generates 500,000 ‘friends’ and fans on Twitter, all of whom hate Ryanair.”

It is as if he take pride in people not liking Ryanair. As if the Irish airline is the Millwall football club of the skies.

It is almost like Ryanair exits in a parallel world, out on the Fringe, and pays no attention to what is happening here at all. Tweets and Facebook likes and customers be damned.

A the press conference yesterday Ryanair wowed fans with with the launch of a €3 app, which offers services that are free to access online via a browser.

  • http://www.keers.co.uk Paul Keers

    “It is almost like Ryanair exits in a parallel world, out on the Fringe, and pays no attention to what is happening here at all. Tweets and Facebook likes and customers be damned.”

    Indeed – so let’s turn this around.

    Suppose we make it mandatory for anyone proposing a CRM policy, or a social media strategy, or even customer service, to explain why Ryanair can consistently and profitably do without any of them.

  • Martin Harrison

    What Paul Keers said x1,000.


    It’s almost like he only wants to consistently grow profits and revenue by continually reinforcing a single brand proposition and behaving in a highly distinctive and memorable way.


    It’s a pity he responds like this, because he has transformed the air travel market enormously and done more to bring about European integration than anything Brussels can think up. Single handedly he solved Poland’s unemployment problem with his super cheap fares to the UK and his employment opportunities as much lower rates of pay then BA gives a lot of youngster from all over Europe the opportunity of meaningful employment.
    People fly with his Airline because he cuts out all the bullshit and does what he says, mind you some of his fares at popular times can be eye watering!

  • http://www.ispreview.co.uk Mark (ISPreview UK)

    O’Leary has done it so many times now that people just expect him to behave like an ass. It would be interesting to see if swapping CEO actually made much difference to the firm.

  • http://digitaljuggler.com James Gurd

    @Paul – when you have low cost products that people want, you can get away with it.

    In a highly competitive market where you aren’t a clear price leader, you’re screwed.

    Imagine B&Q ripping customers off for DIY products and saying “your fuck up”. People would simply go to Focus, Wickes, Screwfix etc.

    Airlines have a certain degree of monopoly on flight paths/routes. Either you stump up lots more £ for a non-budget carrier like BA, or you swallow the unacceptable attitudes/service and save money.

    That said, whilst I don’t agree with his attitude, the ts and cs are clear – you print out your boarding pass or face a steep fee. If you don’t want to get stung, read ts & cs and plan in advance. It’s a harsh lesson but people need to take responsibility for their own mistakes as well. What’s hard is the grey area where a customer has tried to print the boarding passes but can’t – does Ryanair still tell them it’s their fault without any understanding and compromise?

    I personally avoid Ryanair and Easyjet whenever I can as I don’t like the service model. But I have the luxury of being able to afford a slightly higher price.


  • Davis

    It was her fuck-up. End of discussion.

  • Pingback: Ryanair do PR like no other company - Read more on the Athernet blogAthernet Blog()

  • Pingback: Why Ryanair doesn’t care – lessons for marketing « Revolutionary Measures()

  • http://www.sixsigma-pr.co.uk Andy M Turner (@andymturner)

    There’s a great but pretty dumb picture of him accompanying a Management Today website article about Ryanair where he appears to be fast disappearing into a jet engine!
    I think you’ve got to love him for speaking his mind. The company makes money from the unwary and that’s hardly a secret. I bet there are tons of business leaders out there who deeply envy his ability to be so disdainful of customers and not go the same way as Gerald Ratner.

  • cleverbank

    i read that post and having flown with ryanair alot myself i know that they clearly state that you will be charged if you dont print them out yourself!!! its her own fault!

  • VillaninIreland

    I agree with O’Leary . How hard would it have been to find an internet cafe in Alicante ?It’s her own fault she had to pay €300 .

  • Adrian Rawlinson

    He gets away with it because he has a product that people need and at times is the only choice for people not wanting or able to pay high priced options. However because of his attitude if ever I have choice I choose not to use Ryan Air…

  • http://www.barker.dj dan barker

    It always surprises me when people don’t realise this is part of their strategy, rather than assuming ‘they don’t have a strategy’, or ‘the marketing/pr team must hate this!’.

  • Ken Barlow

    if O’Leary doesn’t give a toss what this woman thins then why on earth would he give a toss what gordon macmillan thinks?

    p.s. it was her fuck up. like him or loathe him, if you play by their rules, you generally won’t have a problem with Ryanair.

  • Pingback: Social Media kontra pieniądze – kto rządzi « SKUTECZNY E-MARKETING()

  • Jeff

    @James Gurd Airlines may have some monopoly, but tactics are still vital – look how BMI Baby are struggling because people aren’t buying “some frills” travel at a price slightly higher than RyanAir and EasyJet.
    Incidentally, all DIY shops are ripping off customers – take a look at prices at Screwfix to see just how badly!

  • Pingback: Boom's Brief Guide to Managing Your Reputation Online | Boom Online Marketing()

  • JonWightman

    Fair enough to charge someone for printing them, but that much really is taking the piss. For all the people defending Ryanair, I hope something similar happens to them one day and I wonder how they will react with €300 in the bank for 5 pieces of paper.

  • Pingback: Lexis Digest: An altruistic social network; targeted ads on Twitter; paying for free content - Next 15()