Idiots. Stupid. Bugger off. It was your f***-up.
Now let’s all pay close attention fellow spokespeople and CEOs: These are not words to use when handling a media crisis. Why not? Well, a little bit of common sense tells us not to as well as a general rule of thumb to not further alienate the people at the heart of the media crisis. Michael O’Leary, the CEO of the European airline Ryanair, however plays by his own rules.
O’Leary is famous for courting controversy with his inflammatory quotes over the years:
On environmentalists: “The best thing you can do with environmentalists is shoot them.”
On refunds: “You’re not getting a refund so **** off.”
On obesity: “Nobody wants to sit beside a really fat ****** on board.”
(For these and more quotes visit the UK Telegraph)
So it is no surprise that O’Leary, the CEO who suggested revenue generators such as in-flight porn and pay toilets, is once again stirring the pot after a mother and her family failed to arrive at the airport with printed boarding passes. According to the UK Telegraph Suzy McLeod was charged £236 when the airline had to print out her five boarding passes to travel between Alicante and Bristol.
McLeod later posted on her Facebook page:
“I had previously checked in online but because I hadn’t printed out the boarding passes, Ryanair charged me €60 per person! Meaning I had to pay €300 for them to print out a piece of paper! Please ‘like’ if you think that’s unfair.”
McLeod’s post resulted in more than 500,000 likes in support of her stance.
At this point, anyone other than O’Leary might rethink their policy, find a way to make it up to McLeod, or explain the rhyme and reason behind such an inane way of doing business. Instead he had this to say:
“We think Mrs McLeod should pay 60 euros for being so stupid. She wasn’t able to print her boarding card because, as you know, there are no internet cafes in Alicante, no hotels where they could print them out for you, and you couldn’t get to a fax machine so some friend at home can print them and fax them to you…She wrote to me last week asking for compensation and a gesture of goodwill. To which we have replied, politely but firmly, thank you Mrs McLeod but it was your ****-up.”
And for anyone else who doesn’t print out their boarding passes:
“To those who don’t, we say quite politely: ‘Bugger off’”.
O’Leary is unlikely to change his stance since he has a bit of a cult following due to his attitude and comments. In fact, Paul Kilduff has even written a book about it called ‘Plane Speaking: The Wit and Wisdom of Michael O’Leary’.
For anyone thinking this time O’Leary may take time to gain a little perspective on his remarks, you can easily find the answer in another of his rather direct quotes:
“I don’t give a ***** if no-one likes me.”
What do you think? Will O’Leary’s continuing pursuit of negative publicity keep the airline in the clouds or leave it rusting in the hangar? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.