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No More 'Mr. Bad Guy' for Ryanair's O'Leary
By: Jeannine Wheeler
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If you’re a traveler in Ireland or the UK, you’ll know well the reputation of the combative Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary, who famously calls his own customers "stupid," tells refund-hunters to "f*** off" and has threatened to remove on-board bathrooms completely so he can get in a few extra seats.

But now it seems the 53-year-old Irish executive is on a PR charm offensive, telling MailOnline Travels that “We should have been nicer to customers earlier than we have been.”

If the shock of this has just hit you like one of the airline’s screaming yellow seatbacks, you are not alone.

Nary has an apologetic or conciliatory note ever been heard from O’Leary, who famously told a passenger who had been charged £236 ($377) for forgetting to bring her boarding passes: “We think Mrs. McLeod should pay…for being so stupid...There are 0.02 per cent of passengers who are equally stupid. We say quite politely to those passengers, b*****.”

But now, he says, he wants to play nice.

Could it be because Ryanair is planning to expand its operations more broadly across Europe and into new markets?
 
Or could it be because O’Leary is helping to promote a new biography of the late co-founder of Ryanair, Tony Ryan, who was the "softer side" of the airline?
 
O’Leary now admits his mentor’s attitude may have been the better one.

“I think the Always Getting Better programme we’ve launched in the last 12 months and the significant improvements we’ve made in the customer experience, and the way that customers have responded to that, would suggest that he was right,” O’Leary told MailOnline Travels.
 
It remains to be seen whether many (and there are many), who have pledged never again to fly Ryanair, will believe the bellicose executive who now professes to love his beleaguered budget airline passengers.


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About the Author
Jeannine Wheeler is a PR Director who has worked in three countries, including Russia, the US and the UK. She is currently Sr. Vice President of Pure Energy PR, a full-service boutique communications firm with a focus on the energy, healthcare, technology, construction, real estate & land development, tourism & hospitality and food & beverage industries. Jeannine is in the firm's Austin, Texas office.
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