As low-fare airline Ryanair undergoes more scrutiny in Norway, details of how cabin crew are expected to work continue to emerge. Newspaper Aftenposten obtained a copy of Ryanair’s “strictly private & confidential” employee manual, and it reveals orders to sell aggressively to passengers on board.
Employees’ pay is directly tied to the sales they generate on board the low-fare flights, and the manual notes that regular sales audits are conducted “by mystery passengers” who examine flight attendants’ sales performance.
“Crew with excellent performance will be recognized and those found not to be complying with our sales procedures will be subject to an internal investigation,” the manual states.
Ryanair’s “sales procedures” include tactics like selling aggressively in the forward part of the cabin. “It is important to push sales to the first few rows as this lets other passengers observe them being bought thus encouraging them to buy, therefore increasing overall sales,” the manual states.
Ryanair crew with “continued poor sales performance” will be subject to “further action, including removal from the base, demotion and dismissal.”
The manual plainly states that onboard sales are “extremely important” to generate revenues for the company that are needed to keep fares low. Flight attendants are thus instructed to “push” sales of food, drinks, lottery tickets, train tickets, and not least gift- and tax-free items. Ryanair refers to the sales campaign as part of its customer service.
Eye contact and smiles
Flight attendants are instructed to also maintain direct eye contact with passengers and smile, and never to forget to point out a fight’s on-time performance. When a passenger asks for a beer, flight attendants are instructed to ask whether the passenger would also like potato chips or peanuts to go with it. It is not satisfactory to merely ask if the passenger would like “anything else.”
Neither rival low-fare carrier Norwegian nor full-service airline SAS require their flight attendants to push sales, claiming that ensuring passenger safety is the flight attendants’ primary assignment. “Sales shall occur in a nice and friendly manner, but the employees have no sales demands on them,” Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen at Norwegian told Aftenposten. According to Tormod Sandstø of SAS, sales are an important revenue source, but that’s not the main job for the cabin crew.
A Ryanair spokesperson confirmed to Aftenposten that any flight attendant not selling enough can be fired. Flight attendants based in Norway, the spokesperson said, earn an average of EUR 25,000 per year (NOK 195,000) plus 10 percent of sales generated.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund