LONDON, Feb. 27, 2009— -- What is the real price of flying cheap? It might be a urinary tract infection if you're flying with Ryanair and don't want to pay to use a toilet onboard.
Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said on a BBC morining show that the airline is looking into charging its passengers £1 (about $1.43) to use the loo. The airline would install devices on toilet doors to accept both coins and credit cards.
"We think this is a flush too far," said Phill Edwards, a spokesman for the United Kingdom's largest independent travel retailer, Co-operative Travel. "Going to the loo on a flight is a pretty fundamental human requirement."
"Even though people are used to Ryanair's cost-cutting measures, this is something people will balk at. People have to compare and see whether budget flights are really the best option at the end of the day, because these costs all add up."
O'Leary doesn't foresee any problems with his proposed lavatory policy. "I don't think there is anybody in history that has got onboard a Ryanair aircraft with less than a pound," he said.
Ryanair's spokesman Stephen McNamara said his boss slightly exaggerated, and the coin slots on the toilets will not be introduced anytime soon. "However, is it not a strange measure, because customers are already paying in bus and train stations, so why shouldn't we do the same?
"Don't forget that some people travel for maybe four hours on the train without ever using the toilet or holding it up until they arrive, and no one thinks that is strange."
McNamara emphasized that customers can avoid all extra costs on Ryannair. For instance, if they don't have a bag to check, they don't have to pay for that service.
But U.K. urologist Christopher Ogden doubted whether going without goes for this "cost-cutting measure," as some passengers can't avoid a lavatory visit when flying for a few hours. "You could get a urinary tract infection if you hold up urine long enough, especially when you're susceptible to it.
"Of course, men with prostate problems will have a severe charge on a Ryanair flight, because they have to use the toilet very regularly. So will women with urinary problems."