Cushioning the Service Impact

Recently I have noticed a reversion of service in airlines, in which Ryanair seems to be thinking about the customer and other airlines are performing the kind of trickery that Ryanair has been serving up to customers for years. So what’s going on exactly? Are other airlines as desperate as Ryanair once was, or as greedy? Or is this Ryanair pulling the rug from under their competitors, desperate to win back customers they lost? It certainly makes me think that, while it’s likely to be a cocktail of the above and many other inconceivable manoeuvres, their tactic may actually be winning back customers. After everything.
After the night that I queued in the already late departure for a flight destined to Glasgow, when they argued that the spinal cushion I was carrying for a cycling spinal injury, had to be added as luggage for £35. With some patience I pointed out to them that I needed to sit on it on the plane (this was the point of it) and that obviously storing it or to doing anything else with it other than sitting on it defeated the purpose. But the attendant Ryanair staff repeated the policy about carrying two pieces of hand luggage and made no attempt to consider the situation in front of her. I recalled a documentary where I’d seen this before, repeating the policy, forcing the customer to give up. With this to the forefront of my thoughts, I calmly told her it wouldn’t be a problem, as long as they could provide me with a seat that would offer enough support for my spine. If they could, I would take the seat and happily put the cushion (and pay for the privilege) into the hold. Otherwise I would stand for the entire flight. This seemed to jolt semblance of reality because the girl actually stopped mid-policy sentence and walked away. After a 15 minutes lag (onto the already delayed flight), she came back over to me and nodded without saying the words. It seemed the words were too great a defeat to voice. But what was both fascinating and telling was, that she considered this a defeat in Ryanair terms. So much for customer-centricity.
Things have changed. Ryanair are striking back with their “Always Getting Better” campaign to include their ‘Customer Charter’, ‘Family Extra’, ‘My Ryanair’ and are using the phrase ‘customer experience’. Meanwhile Aerlingus want to charge me to sit on their aircraft (of course Ryanair has had a 27% stake in their affairs, even if that love affair is at an end). This is a strange-reality that I didn’t foresee. That as it may be, does it mean that now (given Ryanair’s recent good behaviour) that I’ll start to trust them? That I’ll forget the past?
Not exactly, not me. They may be on best behaviour at the moment but the legacy they’ve left from the earlier days means that ultimately I don’t trust them. That I’ll never trust them. I’m just waiting for the day in the near future that they pull my crutches from under me, literally. Can a fast-food place add pretty cushions and side-salad to their fat saturated dishes and be converted into anything but a fast experience? (this is now being attempted). Well they can try, but it becomes a whole lot more difficult in practise far away from the brainstorming in the meeting room. Easyjet and Aerlingus may charge me for that seat, but I find myself willing to trust that they need to do it to survive, because I have felt treated fairly by them in the past. If Ryanair is to gain trust, it’ll be the work of the next generation who missed the heart attack-inducing classic Ryanair antics firsthand.