The Queen’s English as spoken by Ryanair’s O’Leary

Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary is a remarkable character (love him, hate him or love/hate him). He’s remarkable both in what he’s achieved (love or hate his methods) and in the way he talks to the world. Here are some examples:


Plane English a la Michael O’Leary


“We need a recession. We’ve had 10 years of growth. A recession gets rid of crappy loss-making airlines and it means we can buy aircraft more cheaply.” (3 November 2008)

In economy no frills; in business class it’ll all be free – including the blowjobs. (Talking of plans for a transatlantic service: 2008)

You don’t see the government confiscating lipsticks and gel-filled bras on the London Underground. Most of them couldn’t identify a gel-filled bra if it jumped up and bit them. (Complaining about increased airport security checks: 2006)

At the moment the ice is free, but if we could find a way of targeting a price on it, we would. (October 2005)

Every idiot who gets fired in the industry shows up as a consultant somewhere. Shoot consultants and advertising agency specialists. (October 2005)
I’m probably just an obnoxious little bollocks. Who cares? (2006)

Some people are so ideologically opposed to O’Leary that nothing he says could amuse them. Perhaps, though, they might admit that he always achieves rapid lift-off.

Official spokespersonese, Ryanair-style


In contrast, some of his spokespeople indulge in the kind of officialese that is so loaded with heavy baggage the verbal machine remains firmly stuck on the ground.

Recently, a 52-year-old ex-Viking from Norway had a little problem about a “chicken premium sandwich” he was presented with on a flight from Berlin to Rygge. Since the meat was made out of rubber, he refused to pay for it. The flight attendant threatened to call the police. He assumed she was joking and fell asleep.

At Rygge airport, three men in orange police jackets came on board and took him off for questioning. The Rygge police confirmed later, reportedly with chuckles (yes, Norwegians are capable of chuckling), that they’d never been called out for a passenger complaining about a sandwich. No charges.

A Ryanair spokesperson explained: “The captain on flight FR8904 requested police assistance on arrival after a passenger became disruptive in flight. This matter was addressed with the passenger by police on arrival. Ryanair crew only request such assistance when deemed absolutely necessary based on their assessment of the disruptive passenger behaviour and their reading of the situation.”

No, it’s not the worst example of officialese, but it’s surprising (and inconsistent) that bossman O’Leary doesn’t charge his spokespeople for each wasted word, and also for each long word that is not “deemed absolutely necessary”.

How would O’Leary himself have put it?

“We had to call the police to deal with this Norwegian bollocks who’d refused to pay for his *x!king sandwich. Yeah, maybe we flew off the handle a bit, but what do these gobshites expect on a Ryanair plane – a Michelin five-star?”

Posted in Jargon, Language, Words Tagged with: , , , ,
One comment on “The Queen’s English as spoken by Ryanair’s O’Leary
  1. Andrew says:

    Great piece! Ryanair staff might actually not be so bad at following O’Leary’s example – though they might lack the same style in delivery. Read the original blog comments here: http://jasonroe.me/blog/free-ryanair-free-flight-bug/
    The situation is neatly summarised here (entry no. 5): http://www.cracked.com/article_17215_7-most-idiotic-corporate-temper-tantrums.html

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