Ryanair introduces cash passport, stays true to budget model

You have to give Ryanair credit for continually initiating to reshape the way the air travel business is conducted, although some of the moves have been unpopular such as the levy of a fee for airport counter check-in.

The budget carrier’s latest departure from the norm is a pre-paid card – the Ryanair Cash Passport – which it launched early this month. Passengers who sign up for the card will be spared an administration fee of GBP6 per journey. However, unless you travel frequently, you may incur additional charges which are levied for non-use of the card for six months and for cash withdrawal. It is not the cash-substitute smart card that has more universal applications than just for the purchase of Ryanair tickets.

And, hey, you have actually paid upfront for expected usage, so there’s the opportunity cost of holding on to unused cards! Unless, you think the administration fee that you must eventually incur more than offsets tying up cash in a card.

Yet, this is not something new. Consider your bus and subway tickets. So it is not really an issue worthy of further debate. In fact, according to Ryanair, 25 per cent of all its UK bookings are transacted via a Mastercard pre-paid card, which is being replaced by its Ryanair Cash Passport; the difference is that use of the Mastercard will be subject to a fee from November.

No airline has stayed true to the no-frills model more than Ryanair – if cost is all there is that drives the business. The premise has always been that a passenger pays for what he wants, and, in this case, he enjoys the benefit of saving on an administrative fee or be penalised for choosing not to comply. It’s a tricky perception.

Mind you, Ryanair may well be setting the trend. Will other airlines – not necessarily confined to budget carriers – see how they too can reap the benefits of such a procedure, to be implemented whether individually or collectively through a financial house? Not surprisingly, this sometimes hinges upon whether those others can be as brazen as Ryanair, which somehow knows that when a passenger pays only US$20 to fly from Morocco to Italy, he is probably already resigned to pre-conceived expectations or non-expectations of the experience awaiting him.


About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

One Response to Ryanair introduces cash passport, stays true to budget model

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