Ryanair boss admits groups are ‘highly likely’ to be separated UNLESS they pay extra for seats as he tears into ‘whingers’

Michael O’Leary, the CEO of Ryanair, has suggested that his customers “stop whinging” about not being seated together on flights.

After keeping quiet amid a din of accusations that the budget airline is deliberately splitting up groups, the airline chief has admitted that it is “now increasingly unlikely” that groups will be sat together unless they pay extra.

When responding to irate callers on the Irish radio show Liveline, he said: “People are not being deliberately dispersed but they are highly likely to be dispersed if they choose a random seat.”

When asked if the booking system would allow groups who haven’t reserved seats to sit together, Mr O’Leary replied: “No – the system won’t do that.”

He added: “But the system also isn’t told, ‘do your best to split them up as far as they possibly can’.”

Mr O’Leary said “we have nothing to hide” and repeatedly denied that the airline has changed its policy or its seat allocation algorithm. Instead, he suggested that more than 50 per cent of customers now want to choose their own seat, compared to 10 per cent previously.

“The algorithm changes as demand for reserved seats changes,” Mr O’Leary said. “Are you likely to be split up if you have selected a random seat? Yes you are, because that’s what random means.”

Passengers have been complaining vociferously on social media channels over the last couple of months about groups who booked together being sat apart, with many of them saying that they have been given the middle seats in a row.

When questioned by presenter Joe Duffy on Liveline, Mr O’Leary admitted that the booking system leaves window and aisle seats unallocated for as long as possible in order to make money selling them.

“Absolutely, perfectly correct, no question about it,” he replied. “That is a customer choice, if you don’t want to pay the extra, don’t pay the extra.”

He also suggested that although it appears that there are lots of vacant seats at the point of booking, many of these have already been reserved but passengers “haven’t come back in yet to take up the reserved seat”.

Seat selection costs €2 (£1.78) or €4 (£3.55) for an adult who wants his or her children seated alongside. It is in fact obligatory for anyone travelling on Ryanair with children, so they cannot be left to travel alone.

Other budget airlines confirmed in recent weeks that they will continue to try and seat groups together wherever possible, without demanding an extra charge.

For many of Ryanair’s repeat customers, this was their experience of flying as a group until recently.

EasyJet told Telegraph Travel that it sits families together more than 99 per cent of the time, for no extra charge.

British Airways said that all customers are given the chance to choose their seat for free 24 hours before their flight.

Jet2 also said it “always endeavours to sit customers together”.


American Airlines dedicates Boeing 777 to 91-year-old mechanic for 75 years of service

After 75 years with American Airlines, Azreil “Al” Blackman says he isn’t thinking about retirement.

“That’s not my style,” he told ABC News.

Based out of New York City his entire career, the 91-year-old aviation maintenance technician started off making 50 cents an hour as an apprentice in the sheet metal shop, when American was known as American Export Airlines.

Since then, Blackman has worked on some of aviation’s most storied aircraft, from the Sikorsky flying boat that kicked off American’s trans-Atlantic service, to the original jumbo jet, the Boeing 747.

The former U.S. Navy service member has dedicated his life to American Airlines aircraft.

On Tuesday, his long-time employer returned the favor.

At a ceremony at John F. Kennedy International Airport, a curtain dropped to reveal a Boeing 777 dedicated to his 75 years of service.


The aircraft is capable of holding at least 247 people and flying American Airlines’ longest routes. For the remainder of the jet’s life at American Airlines, his name and signature will be inscribed to the left of the aircraft’s main cabin door.

Guinness World Records also awarded Blackman with the title of “Longest career as an airline mechanic.”

At the Tuesday ceremony the New York native climbed into the jet — before it makes its inaugural trip to London Wednesday sporting its new paint job — and received a sky-high tour of his hometown.

Blackman took off from JFK at 2:59 p.m. and and flew north up the Hudson River to West Point before turning right and looping around the northern edge of Long Island at an altitude of just under 3,000 for before returning to the airport. The flight lasted about an hour-and-a-half to commemorate a lifetime’s worth of service to country’s largest airline.

“Slightly hazy,” he said of the view from the flight deck. “Very calm, quiet.”

Blackman says he has no plans to retire from his work any time soon.

“What’s the big deal about retirement, really? What do you do when you retire?” Blackman told ABC News. “You stay home and watch the television, that’s not my style.”

The Most Ridiculous Seat Swap Request I’ve Received… Ever

I’d like to think I’m accommodating when it comes to trading seats with others so that they can sit with friends or loved ones. Not only will I typically swap a non-bulkhead aisle (my general preference) for a non-bulkhead aisle, but I’ll also gladly take a window, or take a bulkhead, or whatever, so that people can sit together.

For many of us, time with our loved ones is the most precious thing we have, and I’m happy to contribute to that however I can for others (for the record, I don’t expect others to extend the same courtesy). Besides, when you’re in a premium cabin, you’ll typically be comfortable no matter what.

Well, today I turned down my first seat change request from a fellow passenger for the first time in a long time. I’m still shaking my head over this.

I was flying MIAT Mongolian from Ulaanbaatar to Frankfurt (I’ll have more on that flight shortly), and the lady seated across from me during boarding kept looking back at economy. Based on the way in which she was sitting there, I actually assumed she had booked economy and was trying to sneak into business class, since she kept looking back as if she was about to be caught for something.

Eventually it became clear that wasn’t the case, but rather that she was traveling with her husband, and he was booked in the bulkhead economy seat.

After the door closed she asked the flight attendant if her husband could move up since there were empty seats in business class. The flight attendant (politely) explained that wasn’t possible, and the lady seemed genuinely befuddled.

About halfway through the flight her husband came up, they talked for a bit, etc. I was doing some work on my laptop, and after he returned to economy she turned to me and asked a question.

“Do you mind switching seats with my husband for just a little bit?”

I thought I knew where her husband was seated, but figured I was misunderstanding the situation, because surely someone wouldn’t be making this request.

“Where is your husband seated?”

“Just one row behind.”

“I’m sorry, but I really don’t want to switch to an economy seat.”

“But I just want to spend some time with my husband.”

“Then maybe you could ask the person seated next to your husband if they want your business class seat for a little bit?”

“But I booked business class, I want to use my seat.”

I’m not sure I can properly describe my (unintentional) facial response to that statement, but when she saw it she said “okay, sorry.”

She then traded seats with her husband for the second half of the flight, so that he could be in business class for a while.

Some people…

EasyJet passenger complains about couple next to him having s*x – but others ask him to move to get a better view

The unnamed pair were “proper going for it”, according to witness Gary Power who was sat next to them

“We all laughed but then ten minutes later they actually did it. They seemed so drunk, they brought a lot of attention to themselves.

“You could see the girl taking off her pants and he pulled his trousers off. She started riding him. I had to get my phone out. I have never seen anything like that.”

Dozens of American Airlines pilots face demotion, pay cut after losing contract dispute

by Conor Shine, Aviation Writer – Dozens of American Airlines pilots are facing a demotion from captain to first officer and a corresponding pay cut after losing a contract dispute that traces to the company’s 2001 acquisition of Trans World Airlines.

An arbitrator ruled last week that protections guaranteeing a limited number of captain positions to former TWA pilots, now employees at American, had expired.

The decision means 85 or more former TWA pilots could be demoted from captain to first officer, with a corresponding number of American pilots making the move up from first officer to captain. The difference in pay between the two ranks can be as wide as $75 an hour, according to a lawsuit relating to the case.

American and the Allied Pilots Association have avoided taking a side in the dispute, which pits two groups of employees against one another. But they’ll have to sort through the fallout of the arbitrator’s decision, which will alter the bidding priorities for a subset of American’s more than 15,000 pilots and could force some to change their base of operations.

“Arbitration matters like this are decisions we have to respect. We’ll work with (the Allied Pilots Association) to support anyone who is impacted by the decision,” American spokesman Matt Miller said.

A matter of seniority

In the airline industry, seniority rules. For pilots, it affects what aircraft they fly, what schedules they work and how much they earn.

The issue of seniority becomes particularly tricky when integrating groups of pilots during the merger of separate carriers, an issue American tried to navigate with special protections for TWA pilots following its 2001 acquisition of the St. Louis-based airline.

The protections guaranteed a limited number of captain positions for those former TWA pilots outside of the normal seniority structure. Following American’s 2011 bankruptcy, the agreement was revised to guarantee 260 captain positions on narrow-body aircraft and 86 captain positions on small wide-body aircraft for the TWA group.

Dispute pits pilots versus pilots

The recently-decided arbitration dispute dealt with when those protections should expire. The agreements set a trigger for expiration when a single TWA pilot hired in 1997, Magnus Alehult, accrued enough seniority to become a captain on any aircraft in American’s fleet.

Alehult reached that threshold in October, but only had enough seniority to captain a smaller regional aircraft acquired through the US Airways merger, a plane type that wasn’t part of American’s fleet when the initial agreements with the TWA pilots were struck.

Former TWA pilots argued that the protections shouldn’t expire until Alehult had enough seniority to captain a larger narrowbody aircraft.

But a separate group of American pilots filed a complaint to have the protected positions returned to the general pool, where they’d be available for bidding under the normal seniority system.

The arbitrator ultimately sided with the latter group, finding that “any aircraft” described in the expiration clause truly meant any aircraft, even if the type wasn’t a part of American’s fleet when the deal was reached.

Emirates Lets Dozens of Employees Go

By Deena Kamel, Arif Sharif , and Matthew Martin – Emirates is letting go dozens of employees as the Persian Gulf carrier continues a push to streamline after years of rapid growth, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The world’s biggest long-haul airline is scaling back senior cabin crew as well as the support department workforce including administration and IT, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the information isn’t public. The cuts at Emirates, which froze hiring last summer and hasn’t taken on new crew in months, began in the last few weeks and affect middle and upper-level managers, they said.

Dubai-based Emirates said there is no company-wide program to reduce headcount and that “there is no change in staff turnover rates in the past weeks.”

The carrier continues to hire for “critical roles,” a spokeswoman said in an emailed response to questions, noting that “recruitment has slowed down as we streamline our operations, introduce new technologies, and find ways to better deploy existing resources internally.”

Emirates Group, which includes the airline and other travel and tourism entities, increased its workforce 11 percent in the fiscal year ended March 31 to more than 105,000 employees.

Industry Woes

Gulf airlines have had to adapt to tougher business conditions after years of expansion, with challenges ranging from the U.S. ban on travelers from predominantly Muslim countries to reduced spending power in the region due to low oil prices. Emirates, which last year posted its first annual profit drop since 2012, has streamlined operations, and the company has hired an outside consultant to assist in the review, one of the people said.

Abu-Dhabi based competitor Etihad Airways PJSC has also cut jobs amid an organizational restructuring, in an effort to reduce costs and improve productivity.

To lift revenue, Emirates has begun charging for seat selection, added fees for its airport lounges and may introduce premium-economy seats to boost sales amid waning growth in business class.

In a sign that measures taken so far have helped boost performance, Emirates President Tim Clark said in June that first-half earnings could be ahead of the year-ago period.

The airline is also considering combining with its low-cost sister FlyDubai, and examining the possibility of cooperating with discount long-haul carriers, whose rapid expansion in Asia and Europe poses a threat to its hub-based model.

Breaker’s Yard Beckons for Airbus A380 If New Homes Aren’t Found

Airbus SE’s A380 superjumbo faces the ignominy of being broken up for spare parts if second-hand operators for the oldest jets can’t be found in coming months.

The double-deckers could be “parted out” to recover engines and other spares worth at least $100 million per plane, according to German fund manager Dr. Peters, which owns four A380s due to be returned between October and June by Singapore Airlines Ltd.following the expiry of 10-year lease deals.

At the same time, talks are continuing with six potential operators of the jets, including an Asian low-cost airline that would fly them in a 700-seat single-class layout, Chief Executive Officer Anselm Gehling said in an interview. Prospective users also include carriers in the U.S., which has so far eschewed the model, and Europe, where British Airways owner IAG SA is continuing to evaluate deploying used A380s at airlines within the group, he said.

“Our main goal is to find new lessees,” Gehling said. “We’re also willing to sell the aircraft as some airlines told us they’d prefer that. Still, there are hardly any spare parts around when it comes to engines for A380s, so it may make sense to do a part-out for the first one or two aircraft returning.”

Airbus struck an order blank on selling new A380s last year and has offered to revamp the model with fuel-saving winglets and 80 extra seats on top of the standard 550 to improve its appeal. Boeing Co. last month dropped the very large aircraft category from its 20-year forecast, saying it sees no long-term future for either the Airbus plane or its own 747.

Lucrative Option

Parting out can be a lucrative option even for relatively young planes, with components — especially turbine elements — carefully managed in the aftermarket. Original lease terms on the A380s require that they be returned with engines, landing gear and auxiliary power units effectively as new.

A Look At The New Alaska Lounge In Seattle

Alaska’s new lounge has opened this past week, and is located at the far end of the C Concourse. While I haven’t visited the lounge yet, reader Josh did, and was kind enough to pass along some pictures of the new lounge that I figured I’d share here:

The space looks beautiful, and this definitely seems like the nicest Alaska Lounge at the airport. I love the high ceilings, big windows, and the local decor, which incorporates both aviation and the Pacific Northwest.

Josh said he liked the new space, and that the Alaska Lounge agents seemed very proud to be working there (Alaska Lounge employees are management employees, and are generally among the most professional associates you’ll find in any airline lounges).

Josh also accessed the lounge using Priority Pass. For a long time Alaska has been turning away Priority Pass members at many of their lounges due to crowding issues, so hopefully that becomes less of an issue now that they’ve opened yet another lounge. However, do keep in mind that Priority Pass members can’t bring guests into Alaska Lounges.

Have you visited the new Alaska Lounge Seattle yet? What do you make of the design?

Man ordered vegetarian meal and got a bunch of raw vegetables

NEXT time you complain about the rubbish meal on a plane, think about this poor passenger who ended up with a bunch of raw vegetables.

The traveller, who was flying with Aegean Airlines, ordered the “Vegetarian Oriental” meal in advance.

But when the cabin crew on the Greek airline started to hand out hot meals to passengers, the passenger was disappointed to discover his entire meal consisted of a handful of uncooked vegetables — with a knife and fork.

The man, who goes by the name Musterknabe on Reddit, uploaded a picture of the meal onto the online forum.

“I booked my flight online and chose the ‘Vegetarian Oriental’ meal. This is what I got,” he said.

This is why you shouldn’t order a vegetarian meal on a flight. Picture: Musterknabe

This is why you shouldn’t order a vegetarian meal on a flight. Picture: MusterknabeSource:Reddit

While the name of the dish initially seems a bit misleading, according to Musterknabe the “Oriental” part of the dish was the stick of Chinese celery.

The traveller said he didn’t even bother complaining, until he realised he was also gypped on dessert.

“I didn’t complain about this yummy dish. But then I realised that all passengers who ordered a non-vegetarian meal got an extra cookie for dessert, so I demanded a cookie and got one.”

What makes this situation even more entertaining is that Musterknabe isn’t even a vegetarian.

“I am not a vegetarian, I just prefer good meat,” he wrote on Reddit.

“I have to know where it comes from, how the animals were treated and what they got to eat — when I don’t know it, I order a vegetarian dish.”

This article originally appeared in The Sun

Qantas flight QF93 to make forced landing in Sydney after dumping fuel at sea

A MELBOURNE woman on Los Angeles-bound flight QF93, which diverted to Sydney on Thursday morning, said crew members asked passengers check an engine, before the decision to turn around was made.

Jessica McCallum, 29, praised Qantas crew for their handling of the situation, after an emergency light came on in the cockpit of the A380 about an hour into the flight, which departed Melbourne just before 10.15am.

“A staff member came over toward our row and asked the people in front if they would mind if they had a look at the engine outside the window,” she told news.com.au while still sitting in her seat on the tarmac at Sydney Airport.

Jess McCallum praised Qantas staff for their communication and said she had no concerns about continuing on the same aircraft to LA.

Jess McCallum praised Qantas staff for their communication and said she had no concerns about continuing on the same aircraft to LA.Source:Facebook

“He then rushed off and we didn’t hear anything for a while.

“We were then told about the oil leak affecting the second engine on the left side.

“We were told we would divert to Sydney and land in 25 minutes.

“We were circling around for ages until the pilot could get the centre of gravity of the plane level just so we could land safely.”

In a statement, Qantas said the captain made the decision to dump fuel and return to Sydney airport to land, after an indicator light came on in the cockpit.

Engineers are assessing the leak and Ms McCallum said passengers had been told

Ms McCallum said passengers had been advised that the flight would continue on Thursday and they had been instructed to stay on the plane while the inspection took place.

“We’re still sitting on the plane at the moment,” she said at 2.30pm, Sydney time.

QF93 over Sydney. The Melbourne to LA Qantas flight was forced to divert to Sydney when an alert light came on.

QF93 over Sydney. The Melbourne to LA Qantas flight was forced to divert to Sydney when an alert light came on.Source:Channel 7

A Qantas spokesman said the situation was never an emergency situation but a precautionary measure.

“The captain made the decision to land in Sydney to have the fault fixed rather than continuing on the 14-hour flight,” the Qantas spokesman said.

“Our engineers will inspect the aircraft.

“We apologise to passengers for the interruption to their journey but safety is always our first priority. Our focus is now getting them on their way as soon as possible.”

The flight landed safely in Sydney after 1pm.

Flight radar images showed the plane circling off the coast of Sydney at least five times before tracking towards the airport.

The Qantas spokesman said the flight crew noticed the loss of engine oil, which did not force the shut down of the engine but the captain set it to idle and made the decision to return to land to have the fault inspected.

The aircraft has capacity for 484 passengers and is currently undergoing assessment.

The flight departed Melbourne nearly an hour later than scheduled this morning, just before 10.15am.

Ms McCallum, the social media manager at Melbourne’s AnimeLab, is heading to Los Angeles for an Anime Expo with colleagues.

She said an Alaskan student sitting beside her on the plane, Allison Haines, 22, was returning home after studying in Melbourne and would miss her connecting flight.

“She says the trip to Alaska is always long anyway — at least this added some excitement,” Ms McCallum said,

Flight radar data for Qantas flight 93.

Flight radar data for Qantas flight 93.Source:Supplied