21 December 2009 | Last October, ultra-low cost carrier Ryanair closed all its airport check-in deks as part of its relentless drive to cut cost. The carrier now only operates bag drop desks at airports and offers no mobile check-in (yet). Ryanair passengers are required to check-in online and print their boarding pass at home before they arrive for their flight. Passengers who have forgotten to print (or have lost) their boarding pass, are charged a steep EUR40/USD57 penalty (GBP40/USD65 in the UK) when Ryanair has to print it for them at the airport
Ryanair says the purpose of the charge is to make sure passengers print out their boarding cards at home, and that the vast majority of passengers does print out their own cards. However, Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary recently suggested that the charge even could be more than doubled to EUR100/USD144: “You really now must check in before you get to the airport. If you don’t, the fine is EUR40 and if that doesn’t get rid of them all within a very short order, we double that fine to EUR100. We don’t want people showing up without the pre-printed boarding card.”
Spotting an opportunity to start a feeder business, fellow Irish company, SurfBox, which operates pay-as-you-go Internet kiosks at airports, recently decided to add printers to their Internet kiosks at Dublin airport. Instead of having to pay the EUR/GBP40 charge, forgetful passengers can print their boarding pass on SurfBox’s kiosks for EUR1 instead.The printers were introduced at Dublin Airport three months ago and, according to SurfBox, have seen an unprecedented high level of usage. Passengers use the print-service to print off emails and hotel and travel bookings, but almost 70 percent of the usage is for Ryanair boarding passes. SurfBox says over 100 boarding passes per day are being printed off, saving Ryanair passengers about EUR/GBP 3,900 per day. Based upon the success of the printing service in Dublin Airport, SurfBox rolled out the service at Cork, Shannon and Liverpool airports, where they already operate Internet kiosks.