The joke has been around for years as airlines have piled on fees: When are they going to start charging to use the bathroom?
Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s combative CEO, told the BBC this morning that the ultra-no-frills airline was looking into charging £1 for using the lavatories. “One thing we have looked at in the past and are looking at again is the possibility of maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door,” he said.
This naturally sparked all kinds of quotable outrage. A company spokeswoman didn’t help much when she told The Times of London: “The situation is that there is no legal requirement for an aircraft to have a toilet onboard, so if an airline does have a toilet they can charge to use it.”
But then the company released another statement that seemed to take it all back: “Michael makes a lot of this stuff up as he goes along and while this has been discussed internally there are no immediate plans to introduce it.”
In any event, I don’t see how this flies. If Ryanair should try it, I suspect we’d see some new regulations pretty quickly.
Charging for toilets on the ground is fairly common in some parts of Europe, but that’s not quite the same as charging your own customers when you have them confined.
I once paid a euro for a quick bathroom break at the main Helsinki train station, back when the euro was around where the British pound is now: about $1.40. I had just paid some exorbitant price for coffee, and I realized that I had turned myself into a conduit for, almost literally, flushing away money.