By Ken Hegan for MSN Travel

You can always count on Ryanair for controversy.

Ryanair jetRyanair’s outspoken cost-cutting CEO, Michael O’Leary, once vowed that his airline would charge for toilets. Ten years ago, the airline famously refused to offer wheelchairs to disabled passengers. This year they introduced seats that don’t recline. Plus the airline now charges you a whopping 60 Euros to print a boarding pass.

But their new scheme tops them all. O’Leary wants Ryanair’s passengers to stand on their short-haul European flights. Not ‘stand up for their rights’…he really does mean ‘stand up’.

In an interview with the Telegraph newspaper, O’Leary said, “Seatbelts don’t matter…if there ever was a crash on an aircraft, God forbid, a seatbelt won’t save you.”

“You don’t need a seatbelt on the London Underground. You don’t need a seatbelt on trains which are travelling at 120mph and if they crash you’re all dead…” he added.

So O’Leary claims he wants to create “standing room only” cabins in the rear of the plane, replacing the back ten rows of seats.

This standing cabin (well, more of a cocktail bar, dance party, or soccer game/riot pit) would be aimed at budget-conscious travellers, students, partiers who need to keep dancing-dancing-dancing, creepy frotters, or penny-pinching Scottish descendants like me who hate to sit anyway because the seats slam into my knees.

And the cost of a standing flight? Just £1 to European destinations.

Two years ago, he vowed to introduce vertical seats. I guess either this plan was shot down by safety regulators or O’Leary forgot he even brought it up.

Michael O'Leary

Now he wants to do away with seats altogether. This would mean a lighter plane that burns less fuel. It would also cut down on those boring safety demonstrations. Then again, a cynic/realist might wonder if O’Leary simply wants to pack even more people onto his planes to make as much profit as possible.

But what about landing? Wouldn’t standing passengers bounce and ricochet around the plane? No problem, according to O’Leary. He said passengers would just “hang on to the handle” and would be “fine”.

He added, “We’re not talking about areas of huge turbulence around Europe…we don’t have heavy landings anymore “If you say to someone,’ look, hang onto the handle there, you’re coming in to land’, they’ll be fine.

“We operate 1500 flights a day. This is a very routine, safe form of travel…they don’t come skidding in…”

[by the way, reporters LOVE O’Leary…even if many of his comments are simply publicity-seeking BS]

Alas, Europe’s safety regulations currently decree that all passengers (and crew) must be belted to their seats for all takeoffs and landings. Naturally, O’Leary has strong opinions about these safety regulators who limit his genius.

“They are all a bunch of plonkers,” he said, which apparently means ‘stupid people’.

What do you think…would you stand on a plane, if it meant you could fly from London to Prague for the price of a soda? Let us know in the comments below.

— Ken Hegan

BING: top 10 airline safety questions

Read all Ken’s travel stories here and follow him on Twitter: @KenHegan



Photo credits:

Michael O’Leary by Ray Tang / Rex Features; Ryanair jet by PA Photos Limited [2001] all rights reserved