Ryanair is criticised on 'weekend supplement' flights ad


Budget airline Ryanair has been ticked off by advertising watchdogs in the UK for applying "weekend" supplements on four days of the week.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a customer's complaint over a newspaper ad offering £19.99-£29.99 sterling Ryanair flights from Glasgow to London and Paris.

The advertisement stated "weekend supplement applies" whereas, in fact, a supplement was charged over the period Friday to Monday inclusive.

The ASA ruled: "The Authority considered the claim implied that every seat on every flight could be bought at the advertised price for flights on any day of the week and was concerned the smallprint seemed to contradict the claim."

It added: "The Authority considered the advertisement was misleading and asked the advertisers to ensure future advertisements made clear in the main body of the advertisement seats were available at the quoted prices for flights on Tuesdays to Thursdays only."

Ryanair's chief executive, Mr Michael O'Leary, said it would have been better if the ad had referred to supplements between Friday and Monday rather than at the weekend. However, he said, the rest of the advertisement was in compliance with ASA guidelines.

The guidelines stated that advertisers should state clearly in a footnote any restrictions which applied and their nature.

This was done, said Mr O'Leary, who noted that under the promotion flights were guaranteed for three months at either of the two prices in the ad, the larger of which included the £10 supplement.

He said he was further angered by an ASA ruling against an advertisement which stated flights were available "from as little as £1 return plus taxes".

The authority felt the ad implied flight prices were dependent on seat availability only, rather than the day of departure.

It concluded: "the advertisement was misleading" and asked the advertisers "to state the days of the week to which future offers applied".

However, Mr O'Leary said the ad in question was an e-mail circular to Ryanair club members, adding the ASA had no authority over such correspondence.

"They can go and rotate if they think they can tell us how to communicate to our own subscribers," he said, adding, "the complainant was probably an employee of one of our competitors".