Ryanair Punishes Cabin Crew Who Don’t Sell Enough Alcohol, Perfume, And Scratchcards

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Ryanair is known for being the ultimate ultra low cost carrier. Not only do they charge for everything, but they basically use the plane as a shopping mall to sell things to people. Ryanair’s CEO has even said that he hopes that in a decade airline tickets will be free, and that they just make money on fees.

Ryanair also has an interesting employment arrangement for their cabin crew. They don’t work directly for Ryanair, but rather are contracted from an employment agency, presumably to minimize the bargaining power that the crew have against the airline.

For most airlines in the west, it’s quite difficult for cabin crew to be fired. Typically people can bid for flights based on seniority, and unless they screw something big up, they’re not going to be punished too badly.

Well, that’s not the case at Ryanair, apparently. Ryanair is punishing cabin crew who don’t sell enough items onboard, including scratchcards, perfume, and alcohol (because when I think of the scent I’d like to have, Ryanair is the first thing that comes to mind).

The Telegraph has the story of how a flight attendant at Ryanair received a letter regarding his/her underperformance in onboard sales, which includes the following tidbits:

“On 100 per cent of the 251 flights in this period you operated you sold no cosmetics,” the letter, seen by the Telegraph, says. “On 73 per cent of the 251 flights in this period you operated you sold no scratchcards… On 86 per cent of the 251 flights in this period you operated you had revenues of less than €50.”

The letter, signed by Grace Meehan, deputy HR manager, reads: “This performance is not acceptable and it is clear that you are simply not doing your job onboard.

“Whilst there may be occasions from time to time where circumstances prevent you from providing service in the cabin to our client airlines customers (turbulence, medical emergencies, etc.) this simply cannot be the case given the vast number of flights where you have drastically underperformed.”

The punishment? The cabin crew member will be losing his/her current roster, where s/he works five days and then get three days off, which is described as “the best roster in the business.” Instead s/he is being put on reserve, where the schedule will only be revealed on a week-by-week basis, to fill in whatever gaps are necessary in the base.

But that’s not all. If the onboard sales don’t improve, further action will be taken, and the cabin crew member could be subjected to disciplinary proceedings.

So if you’re flying Ryanair and feel like you’re at a timeshare presentation, now you know why…

  1. These dirt bag cabin crews that don’t sell enough should absolutely be punished…they should be fired on the spot and replaced with illegal aliens. This is an outrage

  2. Wow thanks for posting this. Explains my flight from Berlin-Schönefeld (aka Mülltonneflughafen) to Seville in which the cabin crew terrorized us passengers with no fewer than seven attempts to pimp out their scratchcards, perfumes, and electronics (since when do airlines make a special announcement to sell electronics AT A VERY SPECIAL PRICE)… well this explains how a last-minute flight of this duration can cost only €17

  3. Honestly I’ve learned so much from your blog this year Ben sometimes I wonder why you aren’t selling duty-free items or making us pay 😀

  4. While I do not want to debate the business model of this airline which I am personally not a big fan of I think this is not really worth an article. Sure it sounds quite unusual on the surface and maybe even unfair, but in the end this a simple evaluation of an employee based on the employers KPI. If other flight attendants perform significantly better in the sales than this employee than this is a problem and the employer has the right to address this. You can say selling onboard scratch cards is a shit task but it doesn’t change that if that is what she/he was hired for it is also what she/he will be evaluated based on.

  5. This is absolutely worth an article because this is a shitty, anti worker practice that causes extreme undue stress for the already severely underpaid flight attendants of an airline that generally treats everybody like trash. Just because this is how the airline does business doesn’t make it right, and honestly if you think that it’s easy for the majority of people to just quit and have a job lined up elsewhere, you’ve got to be kidding yourself. Unregulated capitalism just means that the rich and powerful have the freedom to oppress you and their slave-workers any way they want. These practices need to be regulated out of existence because the free market ultimately fails to protect us.

  6. It‘s part of their job. That person is doing the job poorly. the person gets a warning. The person has all freedom to change the job.

  7. Well, BigBen, I think it was worth bringing to light. While I do agree Ryanair was in the right to give a letter of reprimand based on their performance, it does bring to light their business model. Just as Ryanair has the right to choose how to operate their airline, likewise I have the right to decide which businesses I want to spend my money at.
    When I fly, I like to zone out, I do not want to be badgered to buy crap, and because the staff is under pressure to sell crap, more than likely I would be bothered regularly by pleading FAs to buy their crap. This article provides one more reason, a strong reason, for me to avoid flying on Ryanair, regardless how cheap they are. I know they aren’t the only airline to do this, and as I learn about others, likewise I will avoid flying on them and fly on their competitors instead.

  8. It’s sad that some people got everything immediately need to freak out and start rants about how capitalism enslaves all of us and so on. This is something that happens daily in every industry in every country. You don’t perform you have a problem. You don’t like what you perform in? Your good right and please take the necessary consequences. You read about this and don’t like the airlines business model? Your good right and please take the necessary consequences. But don’t write dramatic texts about how horrible all of this is and how we walk work as slaves for the few rich out there.

    @Emirates4Ever sounds reasonable, but from your text alone it’s more than clear you would have never touched even Ryanairs website, you didn’t need this story here

  9. Lol that explain why on my recent flight with them they even had tester parfums, offering passengers to smell the parfume too 😀

  10. I thank articles like this. We can make some ethic choices when we know the truth. I don’t like consuming from companies that forget employees are humans. What’s next in Ryanair, tipping? These people are flight attendants not salespeople! Their job is already tough

  11. @Gary Leff
    Ryanair doesn’t prevent the airports/duty free stores from selling alcohol, instead they try to make deals that they get a commission on every sale the stores makes. Because they couldn’t reach an agreement they canceled their newly announced routes to Ukraine a few months ago.

  12. I strongly suspect if you check Ryanair’s approved operations manual to be a scheduled carrier, there are many things inflight crew are required to do, but selling perfume is probably not in there. If Ryanair is going to evaluate their cabin crew on the ability to hawk merchandise inflight, that’s something regulators should review.

  13. I would hate to be on a Ryanair flight with a safety issue, as cabin crew are clearly distracted and focused on selling crap. “Sir, you can’t use the slide unless you buy another scratch card.”

  14. I don’t understand why people still these low cost airlines….I guess you get what you paid for?

    You can’t expect to go to a fastfood restaurant and get Michelin star service/food/experience.

  15. The worst thing is this quote: “Whilst there may be occasions from time to time where circumstances prevent you from providing service in the cabin to our client airlines customers (turbulence, medical emergencies, etc.)”

    So their definition of ‘providing service’ to pax is constantly bombarding them with announcements and harassing them to buy scratchcards throughout the flight. Nothing to do with what any normal human being would regard as actual in-flight service, just a way to get more $€£ by annoying the hell out of passengers.

    This is one good reason to wear noise-cancelling headphones.

  16. But…but…. they are only there for our safety ? Wasn’t that the end all argument to customer complains ?

  17. The idea of selling overpriced crap to a captive audience is hardly new. Airport terminals have been doing it for years.

  18. Totally agree with Ray — this is a disgrace, and anyone who’s ever flown Ryanair should be writing a strongly worded letter to the company condemning their treatment of cabin crews. They aren’t there to peddle merchandise — they’re there to keep passengers safe and happy, fed and watered. Perhaps if enough of the flying public excoriates Ryanair publicly about this, they can be shamed into changing their ways.

  19. Actually I am glad Gary reminded us of that article because this was my first Ryanair flight that wasn’t ex UK or Ireland. In other words, the flight 1) wasn’t full of bloated drunks, and 2) didn’t depart from an airport that caters to binge drinkers. Far from it — Berlin Schönefeld is literally an open-air trashcan. So it all the more curious/bizarre/ridiculous to see how Ryanair pimps out all these craps products on its planes when you aren’t flying to/from U.K. or Ireland. Nobody wanted the stuff though a few ladies (based on the smells) appeared to test out perfumes.

    All the more interesting to see how airline management seeing flyers as captive guinea pigs and also to see the comments from some folks who think employees can be subjected to such ridiculous and humiliating on-the-job conditions. It’s one thing to take a job as a street sweeper, knowing full well your job will be street sweeping. It’s another to be hypnotized by the alleged glamour of being cabin crew and find out subsequently you are reduced to selling lottery tickets like a clerk at a petrol station. Also the huge pilot shortage caused by their gross mis-scheduling largely stems from Ryanair’s complete lack of regard for human capital. Ryanair got very lucky that Air Berlin went kersplat… it diffused a lot of the ongoing negative press it was rightfully receiving.

  20. The part that’s actually disgusting is that Europeans can be shown this incident and will STILL flock to Ryanair because it’s dirt-cheap and that’s all people care about.

    Look at how many Walmart employees are on food stamps. Look at how many enslaved children mine coltan and assemble iPhones. Look at who manufactures our clothes and picks our tomatoes. Do you see many consumers changing their habits after realizing the human misery behind their cheap consumer goods? Nope.

  21. You people here are priceless, so many seem to be so much detached from reality. One wants to write strong worded letters to their customer rep at Ryanair (hey use that letter also to start renegotiations of your corporate rate, that’s what people fly LCCs for right?) and the next one specifically singles out “Europeans” who would continue to buy tickets despite these “shocking” incidents just to continue with quoting the bad situation of employees in a Canadian airline and children who allegedly assemble phones for a US company as further proof. It’s somewhat hard to take this as a serious discussion like that…

  22. I’m an American writing about this so probably have a different perspective.

    pro Ryanair: No, it is not just the dirt cheap ticket prices. Those are fun, but just not that interesting to me. What is amazing/appealing is the point-to-point flights. I took my first Ryanair flight from Valencia to Bologna. Now, what other airline flies that route — or similar — without the increasingly intolerable hub misery and time wasting?

    BUT, on that same flight, I was “served a meal” which innocently I had ordered. Actually a blazing hot metal-coated object was dropped in my lap (no tray), oozing hot melted something (cheese?) on my thighs. Remember all those smug announcements about FAs being there for your safety and comfort? I sure as hell could have used someone looking out for my burns and the gooey mess. I yelled, I buzzed, my seat mates yelled and buzzed. About 10 minutes later I was given some paper towels, informed the perfume sales were ending, but told I could still get a lottery ticket before descent.

    Addendum: at the Valencia airport, an entire out-sourced crew (wearing jackets saying ‘airserve’) boarded the passengers. It was completely amateurish Keystone Kops to the point that the passengers were finally reduced to laughter.

    But wow, I’m still impressed with the point-to-point flight.

  23. It’s pretty simple – don’t fly ryanair, don’t work for ryanair, and there will be much less of a ryanair.

  24. It seems that Ryanair is just a shopping mall in the sky. Yes, sales is something that the flight attendants have been tasked with as well as inflight service of meals and drinks. However, we also are forgetting that their number one priority is safety. Based on Ryanair’s assumption, they should have a name change from flight attendants to sales attendants. They might as well, because they also have to sell the onboard meals. Everything is sales with them. It may not be a surprise if Ryanair charges you to use the oxygen masks and life jackets in the case of an emergency. “Please deposit 2 pounds before air will flow through the masks and please deposit 10 pounds before the life jackets will be released. Haha!!!!!!!

  25. @Ray – agree entirely, yet how many Americans were asleep or had their eyes pasted to Facebook while corporations rolled back and eliminated pensions, retirement benefits, savings plans, etc. Good luck finding a job – full time ( ie 40 hours/week) – with benefits.
    All so we can pay for cheap ticket on a cheap airline or buy cheap Vietnamese made sneakers at Target or pay for Chinese made antifreeze laden dog food at Walmart.

  26. Absolutely relevant for passengers (particularly those who have not flown Ryanair before or for a long time) to know that the cabin crew are desperate to sell. Anything.
    And that explains why the flight is continually interrupted by loud sales announcements.

    I do hope that the sales number quoted per employee is either the total from the flight, or a straight division of the total on a flight between the cabin crew – we really don’t want crew fighting over who gets the commission for a given sale.

    This message also needs to get out for potential staff.
    So they can decide whether persuading passenger to buy things they don’t need is what they are good at.

  27. I am not at all clear that the cabin crew member underperformed (E.g. by being very slow working through the cabin).
    It could well be that the passengers overperformed in their sense by not buying.

    I do sometimes buy a drink, or food if I have missed lunch-dinner.
    But in several hundred flights I have only once bought anything duty-free on-board.
    Flying around that weight, together with supplying and loading it, and financing the stock, seems a waste of the world’s effort, and airlines’ money.
    If enough people join the majority in not buying these things, Ryanair will presumably drop them as not sufficiently profit -generating.

  28. What is an outrage IS ENSLAVING the cabin crews… the main function they have is to ensure the safety of everyone, NOT SALES.

  29. I still think the safety comes first in every situation. If the sales are down is because there was a concern of safety. And they never consider the fact that THE COSTUMER MIGHT NOT WANT TO BUY the crappy food (and items) they sell.

  30. @Martin “The idea of selling overpriced crap to a captive audience is hardly new. Airport terminals have been doing it for years.”

    But in the terminal I just head straight to the lounge. Being a captive audience on a plane is a different ball game altogether. Maybe the next constructive advice is to lock oneself in the toilet for 2 hours?

  31. They’re not FAs, they’re sales reps. they do nothing for security, as displayed by many undercover documentaries (not least BBC Panorama).
    Bottom Line: Shopping malls aren’t supposed to fly, don’t fly Ryanair.

  32. I am based in the UK so am all too familiar with Ryanair, or at least I’m aware of it’s publicity-seeking chief executive, Michael O’Leary, yet I’ve never actually flown them.

    Of course, several in this feed have said that Ryanair is within it’s rights, it can do it what it wants. However, I object to the fact that employers can behave with impunity in our society. We’d all love to live in an ideal world where airlines placed passenger safety , customer service and professionalism over sales abilities but that sadly is not the case and there are always those that look to exploit weaknesses in our system.

    In my experience, if your workforce are well treated and enjoy what they’re doing, they will do a great job and become an asset. Then again, I’ve yet to meet anyone who recommends Ryanair.

    I’ve not actually flown any budget airline but I’ve always heard good things about EasyJet. I don’t think their staff have discriminatory sales targets.

  33. Thank you, Ben, I don’t read The Telegraph so would have known about this.

    It certainly goes some way to explaining why Ryanair’s pilots were so reluctant to assist them those few weeks ago when there were scheduling issues. Maybe they’ll learn something from this? If you treat your staff well, they’ll help you out of a tight spot.

    I’d be interested to see what happens after they’ve been so badly exposed. Can you keep us updated?

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