David Neeleman took it a step farther: "People who invest in aviation are the biggest suckers in the world," he told Businessweek years ago, right after he got his hands on the cash he needed to launch JetBlue.
Even Southwest's fun-guy Kelleher has sounded a glum note from time to time: "If the Wright brothers were alive today," he once said, "Wilbur would have to fire Orville to reduce costs."
Some find O'Leary's upfront, in your face, anti-spin refreshing. Or different anyway from American Airlines' handling of its ongoing labor strife that's delayed 4,000 flights in the last week alone. As I write this, AA's website features the mild message, "You may be experiencing some cancellations or delays as a result of some of the operational challenges we have been experiencing in recent days. We apologize for any inconvenience."
As one who has personally experienced this "inconvenience" on three of my last four flights, I wouldn't mind something a tad more forceful - more O'Leary-esque.
Still, you'd think a man like O'Leary might worry about his image. You would be wrong. Except for safety (Ryanair's CEO doesn't joke around about that and the airline has a very good record), the man does not seem to mind bad publicity (though you can't really say there's no such thing as bad publicity, right, American Airlines?).
Which leads me to a final quote from the brash CEO: "I swore when I hadn't two shillings to rub together that if I ever got rich I wouldn't give a [expletive] what people wrote about me in newspapers."
Well, now he is rich and he doesn't give a whatever. And Ryanair keeps flying high. But so is Southwest, and Branson still has all those Virgin planes up in the air.
The opinions expressed by Rick Seaney are his alone and not those of ABC News.