The Fastest Way to Brussels

You can always rely on Ryanair and it’s charismatic boss Michael O’Leary for some entertaining news stories. After discriminating against disabled passengers by charging them for a wheelchair, winding up the green lobby and sitting right at the bottom of the pile as the worlds least favourite airline, today it lost out in another battle over one of it’s adverts, this time claiming that it in a comparison with Eurostar it was the fastest and cheapest way to get from London to Brussels.

In order to make this comparison, they compared the time it takes the train to get from London to Brussels, with the time for their closest route, which flies from London Stansted airport 30 miles north-east of London to Charleroi Airport 28.75 miles from Brussels. The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the comparison of both time and cost were misleading because the comparison did not include the time and additional cost to get to and from Stansted or Charleroi.

The response from Ryanair was typical – they said that time and costs involved in getting to an airport or railway station were irrelevant as they applied to both modes of transport – they also said that “no stupid rulingâ€? could hide the success of the airline.

Not surprisingly, I don’t agree – if I’m wanting to go somewhere, the time taken for the whole journey is the most important, as is the convenience of the schedule. Last year when I went on a day trip to Brussels I made exactly that decision. For a start, Ryanair didn’t get a look in – flying from pretty well the opposite side of London to somewhere miles outside Brussels it was a non starter. We did consider the Eurostar, but that lost out because to get to the terminal we needed to spend an hour on South West Trains to get there and back. In the end, thanks to our close proximity to London Heathrow, and the much closer location of the main Brussels Airport to the city compared to Charleroi where Ryanair arrive, we opted for a BMI flight instead.

The basis of the Advertising Standards Authority ruling is that comparing the time from central London to central Brussels is a fair comparison – in which case the Eurostar wins easily as it’s only a short hop on the respective city metro system to the terminal rather than a much longer and more expensive journey out to the airport. Put simply, they are saying that the only fair way to compare is to pick a start and end location and compare the whole journey. Having said that, Ryanair would probably pick Stansted and Charleroi and add the time to get to each airport to the time for the Eurostar

Eurostar originally uploaded by Boxley.

2 thoughts on “The Fastest Way to Brussels”

  1. Eurostar is indeed a better travelling experience than any low-cost airline. Now, if only it would actually behave like a train operator, and stop pretending it’s an airline without wings, then it would be even better. Yet it is impossible to get a reasonable fare without specifying exactly which trains you want to take, and being forced to make a return journey.

    The goons who devised the company’s fare structure ought to get out into the real world, and understand two things:–

    1. Not all “business” travellers are on unlimited expense accounts.
    2. Not all “leisure” travellers want to make a simple return journey to and from the same stations, or know exactly when they want to travel.

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