It has opened up foreign holiday destinations to travellers who could not afford to travel with mainstream airlines. But that cheapness comes at a price. You won't get stewardess service and the comforting glass of champagne. Extras, such as luggage, are tightly controlled – and cost extra. And the arrival points will seldom be at the convenient airport you imagined. Still, many were prepared to put up with the no-frills flight for the bargain price. But, as Ryanair found this week, cheese-paring can be taken too far.
For the company to tell passengers stranded for days in overseas destinations that the only compensation they would get would be equivalent to the cost of the ticket was shocking.
And that it flouted EU rules – however much Ryanair may feel them to be unjust – was truly unacceptable. Fortunately, good sense has prevailed. Ryanair has performed a U-turn, agreed to comply with EU regulations and will reimburse "reasonable receipted expenses of disrupted passengers".
One can almost imagine Michael O'Leary inspecting every claim with a magnifying glass.
This is a sensible decision legally and commercially. Had the original stricture stood, Ryanair risked losing that most valuable asset of them all – the confidence of customers.