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Ryanair plan for standing-only plane tickets foiled by regulator

Michael O’Leary says airline’s application to run test flights with standing berths, handrails and straps has been rejected

Ryanair has been foiled in an attempt to sell standing-only tickets after its application for an official trial was turned down.

Michael O’Leary, Ryanair chief executive, said regulators had refused to give the budget airline permission to run test flights.

Under the proposal, a Boeing 737-800 would be fitted out with 15 rows of seats and 10 rows of standing berths. “We have asked the question could we run some trials on this and the immediate response is somewhat negative,” said O’Leary.

Asked how upright passengers would cope without seatbelts, O’Leary said the refitted airplane would resemble a classic London Underground train with its distinctive ball-and-strap fittings. “Same as on the London Underground, handrails and straps,” said O’Leary.

The Ryanair boss said seated passengers would be charged £25 per ticket with standing customers paying between £1 and £5 for their fares on a flight that would take the average capacity of a flight from 189 passengers to 230.

It is the latest ruse by the low-cost carrier to squeeze an extra penny out its customers – sometimes literally so. Among the schemes that have met with resistance from safety experts and reams of free publicity for the carrier is a proposal to charge passengers for using the toilet, in a bid to limit loo facilities on planes and replace them with extra seats.

Ryanair has also considered putting passengers in the hull – in bunks – and has called for flights with only one pilot instead of the usual two.

Speaking at a press conference in London, O’Leary said he was undeterred by the knock back from the unnamed regulator, although he declined to comment on whether Ryanair had approached the US Federal Aviation Administration or the European Aviation Safety Agency. “I think ultimately it would happen,” said O’Leary.

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