Michael O’Leary, CEO of low-cost airline Ryanair, has a reputation for speaking his mind in a way that is great if you belong to the school that believes all publicity is good publicity. If you on the other hand think that a CEO that, among other things, calls journalists “wankers” is a walking PR nightmare, then O’Leary is it. And now he is at it again. In a press conference in Düsseldorf, Germany he recently joked that “in economy it will be very cheap fares, say 10 Euros, and in business class it will be bed and blowjobs”.
I don’t think that there is one single female flight attendant at Ryanair that finds that comment helpful in their daily jobs. Last week I flew to London and in the row behind me some “senior” business men apparently felt they had the right to get better seats so that the three of them could sit together, instead of divided on each side of the aisle. The flight attendant was a pretty, young woman who they addressed as “my little friend” and “be a good girl now”, basically talking to her like she was a twelve year-old. Typical male suppression techniques in other words. Now, the plane was full so there was no chance for these passengers to move and they made it clear to the flight attendant that she let them down, these superior men that she should serve.
It’s not difficult to guess that this is the daily routine for female flight attendants and so many other women in service professions. And O’Leary is adding insult to injury. So, O’Leary, that joke isn’t funny anymore, to make another reference to the Smiths. But what really surpised me was that Ryanair apparently is trying to spin this in a positive way. On their website the company has issued a news release that claims the video is the most viewed video on YouTube’s travel section. While that in itself probably is a bit of a stretch, instead I would be worried about the company’s reputation that so many people have watched the video.
The news release continues with quotes like “Since then it is rumoured that the ‘Beds and Blowjobs’ debate comes up at most management meetings and everyone is cock sure, it would grow from strength to strength.” They also make a big deal out of the fact that the poor translator did not find any German word for blowjobs.
Remind me to stay clear of Ryanair next time I need a cheap airline ticket. It’s not worth it.
Note to Dagens Media: this is not what any sane person would call good PR.