Ryan Air and Tribulations

Since leaving Bruges, our travels have been a whirlwind, leaving me little time to write. Even though our time until now has felt like a prequel to the main thrust of our trip, I’ll try to hit a few of the high points in the next post or two since coming back to France and setting out on our hike. Visiting Anne-Claire’s friends was, as always, a pleasure.

Flying into Marseille with Ryan Air was easy, though seeing how a cattle call boarding system flushes away people’s consideration and manners is demoralizing (and more than a bit humbling when you yourself get caught up in the pushing and shoving). It’s a bit like the Southwest Airlines system used to be in the States, except that you can only bump yourself up to the priority line by paying more, not by checking in earlier. I’m convinced Ryan Air’s staff deliberately make the path wide enough for four or five people, and that they snicker when the real elbowing begins as you approach the jetway and hand over your ticket.

Anne-Claire carried her bag on, so as soon as she saw people begin to queue up to board, she politely went around the barriers and would’ve been third or fourth in line had a few fellow passengers not slipped under the lines. It’s an interesting psychological experiment: the barriers for the line are set up well before a flight takes off. I suppose if the boarding time does approach, Ryan Air’s ticket takers would call for everyone to get in line, but I doubt this has ever happened.

It’s sort of like game theory, in that each passenger is balancing their comfort waiting for the flight with their desire to have a good seat and overhead space for their bags. But as soon as someone decides the latter is more important and grabs the first place, his/her fellow passengers cascade into line. It might be interesting some time to pick an arbitrary Ryan Air flight, wait until there’s a critical mass of people and then jump into line at a ridiculous time just to watch the line form quickly.

But as I said, we arrived safely in Marseille, just like everyone else, whether they were first or last in line.