On each I found myself speaking to people I didn’t know. Strangers. Faces I’d most likely never see again.
I hadn’t chosen this fourth wall-shattering experience.
It was thanks to Ryanair’s latest strategy for maximising revenue.
Unless you pony up an extra £6 to choose your seats, their system separates you from your friends and/or family*. It actively places you with people you don’t know from Adam.
Ryanair say their allocation policy hasn’t changed.
But having flown with them for years (I just love their automated landing fanfare), the change is noticeable.
What I realised however, wasn’t the endless options for additional revenue streams, but instead something quite profound… we are not alone.
No. Instead, we are surrounded by real people with real lives. Some of them even WANT to talk to strangers!
Ruminating on the remarkable experience, I couldn’t help but suspect it deliberate.
Is O’Leary trying to bring back the joy of holidays? Rekindling the excitement of going away by forcing encouraging us to interact with our fellow travellers? To learn about their lives, loves and longings.
Is he building on their new ‘customer friendly’ customer service to subvert social media’s impact on our ability to have actual conversations with real people? To force us offline.
In my analogue interactions, I learnt that council workers are not to be trusted (and this came from a Freemason). The same countries offering cheap hair replacement therapy also confiscate electrical goods at airports on instruction by the UK Government. And the person next to you may well be living with deep regrets of a love lost decades ago. Before they met their wife.
Ryanair – I commend your efforts to bring us closer together by splitting us up. You have shown us what we are unwilling to see.
But beware. The friendlier we become, the more likely we’ll prove it by swapping seats. And if that starts delaying flights, you won’t be able to play your fanfare.
*I write as someone who’d rather not be separated. Others may welcome it.
Image used under Creative Commons.