11:13pm Friday 3rd December 2010
By Michael Duffy
A lot of people knock budget airlines but let me ask you, given the choice between a day trip to Brighton or a weekend in Oslo which would you rather invest £32.99 in ?
Which is how I came to find myself at Stansted Airport at 6.30 am last Friday morning with my new carry on bag and two other kilted Scotsmen Graham & Colin
The bag was a late purchase in Tesco the night before after Colin had helpfully inspected my original choice and announced that as it had wheels it was 1.5cm over Ryanairs maximum 55cm permitted for carry on luggage.
Naturally this had thrown me into a complete panic and I had then spent the best part of an hour filling and refilling the bag on my kitchen scales to make sure I didn’t go over the 10 kilos permitted.
In the end I decided to wear as much as possible which is why I was in my kilt, sporran, evening dress jacket, shirt, jersey and quilted jacket capable of handling the minus 15 temperatures predicted in Oslo.
You see Ryanair might weigh and measure your luggage but it says nothing on the tin about weighing passengers.
Graham & Colin looked much the same as me i.e. kilted sumo warriors and after being made to strip off to go through security we put it all back on again and made for the duty free zone to buy at prices only just less than twice the price we could have bought in Asda.
Undeterred we set off on the half mile march to the furthermost part of the airport where Ryanair depart from and arrived just in time to see the first travellers bags being weighed and measured before being issued with a yes or no, the no meaning that the only way to arrive with your spare socks was to spend £35 for them to travel in the baggage hold.
I was also sharp enough to observe that by one carry on bag Ryanair mean one and that all that money you invested in duty free in shiny bags had better not be visible or it ain`t going anywhere.
So I stuffed the box containing two bottles of wine up my jacket, wedged it into place under my arm, zipped up and joined the queue edging toward the enemy – clad in black with eagle eyes sweeping for outsize baggage – the notorious Ryanair baggage police.
Luckily my bulging jacket wasn’t searched and I moved through, however I had failed to supervise Colin who was stopped and challenged as he was innocently carrying his undersize bag in one hand and a bottle of malt whisky in the other.
His offers to demonstrate that bag plus bottle still fitted inside the measurement chamber fell on deaf ears and just when it looked as if he was about to be marched away for further interrogation, I stepped in and offered to put the bottle in my bag.
The searchlight was suddenly shone in my eyes and I felt myself wilt under the stares of the baggage police, at this stage I was also losing the power of my arm and fingers as the box of wine was edging its way slowly toward my sporran.
Despite us both being in kilts and both going through Checkpoint Charlie together they insisted on double checking our papers to make sure our cover stories tallied before waving Colin through.
Once onboard the plane we simply did what all the other surplus luggage smugglers did and threw off three layers of clothes and stashed our contraband in the already stuffed overhead locker
The rest of the journey was fairly uneventful, I did wonder why on a trip from London to Norway that Ryanair insist on charging for everything in euros and the cabin crew look daggers at you for attempting to pay in sterling or Norwegian Krone
It’s not as if they’re not tasked with selling to their captive audience as there is a steady procession of sale announcements starting with electric smoke free cigarettes followed by a selection of hot, tasty snacks (I had to take their word for this as the sales pamphlet was in Spanish) then came the trolley with a choice of Carlsberg,Carlsberg or if you like Danish lager,Carlsberg
Then came Ryanairs` own version of Euromillions scratchcards, followed by the duty free trolley before the grand finale – the 2011 Ryanair calendar
Of course we just had to buy one and it now takes pride of place behind the bar of The Three Crowns
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