Woo hoo! Lisbon to Luxembourg for Only 19 Euros! (Well, only if you fly naked.)

One of the great things about living in Europe is how quickly and cheaply you can get to all sorts of other countries and cultures. In fact, we’re now making some of our travel plans based solely on special airline sales. So, when I saw a 19 euro fare from Lisbon to Luxembourg, I thought, “Why not?”

My next thought was, “Where’s Luxembourg?”

Luxembourg is one of those places where everyone knows the name, but virtually nothing else. A quick poll of our friends indicates that absolutely no one in the world has ever been to Luxembourg. But it does sound exotically European so I quickly got on the RyanAir website to book the flight. After struggling with all the options and complications, I decided to call them. Here follows a transcribed version of the conversation… and I swear this is all true (except for the parts that aren’t):

Plane is extraRyan Air (in a charming Irish accent that has me melting into butter): “Hello – Dia duit, and thank you for calling Ryan Air. How may I assist you?”

Me: “Yes, hello. I’m on your website trying to buy a 19 euro fare from Lisbon to Luxembourg, but there are so many options and add-ons it crashed my browser. Can you help me book the flight? I love your accent by the way.”

Ryan Air: “Oh, thank you sir. You’re making me blush! I can absolutely help you.” (I give her our account number and desired itinerary.) “Okay, so that’s no problem ‘tall. I just have a few questions for you so we can finalize this.”

Duct tapeMe: “Okay.”

Ryan Air: “First of all, will that be seat or no seat?”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Ryan Air: “To actually have a seat to sit in, it’s a 50 euro upgrade.”

Me: “Really? So if I don’t buy a seat, what happens?”

Ryan Air: “You have to stand in the aisle, usually near the toilet. Don’t worry, hand straps are available.”

Me: “Hand straps?”

Turbulent makeupRyan Air: “Yes, to hold on to during take off, landing, and any rough air. They’re only 10 euros more.”

Me: “And if I don’t get a hand strap?”

Ryan Air: “We have complimentary zip ties to secure you to the plane, but that means you can’t buy the toilet pass. There is only one set of zip ties per passenger, so they have to remain on for the duration of the flight.”

Me: “Toilet pass?”

Ryan Air: “Yes, that’s only 25 euros.”

Me: “And if I don’t get the toilet pass?”

Ryan Air: “Then you can’t use the toilet.”

Holding peeMe: “Even if it’s an emergency?”

Ryan Air: “Well, there is a small bucket in the section with the people with the zip ties, but we don’t like to publicize that too much, we prefer to emphasize, you know, “holding it.” But sometimes if there are a lot of passengers that are, well, a little stingy and elderly, so, ah, I think you can guess how things turn out. Especially if it’s a turbulent flight, ha ha!”

Me: “Okay, then we definitely want seats.”

Ryan Air: “Oh good, it’s so nice to talk to a non-stingy flyer! You’re obviously not Irish, ha ha! So I assume you’ll want the toilet pass?”

Me: “How long of a flight is it?”

Ryan Air: “Let’s see, it looks like it’s just under three hours.”

Me: “Then God yes. We’ll take the toilet pass.”

Ryan Air: “Okay great! Good choice. Now, would you like a level one, two, three or four padded seat?”

Screen Shot 2020-02-21 at 6.06.55 PMMe: “Come again?”

Ryan Air: “Each seat is available with a different depth of pad. One is just bare metal, as I’m sure you would assume. Two is with a one centimeter foam pad. Three is with a three centimeter foam pad. Oh wait! I see there are two seats available that also have the back of the seat padded as well! Those go fast if you’re interested.”

Me: “So the other seats just have bare metal on the back?”

Ryan Air: “Yes, of course. But you can bring your own pad for only twenty euros.”

Me: “Well, jeez, I guess we’ll take the ones with the pad on the back.”

Ryan Air: “Excellent. By the way, those are only available with the level four padding, so we’ll just add that to the total.”

Me: “How much is–“

Ryan Air: “We still need to determine the seat location. Would you like the “Top-flight” inflight service personnel, standard, or sub-standard?”

Girls of Ryan Air
Rated 8 or above.

Me: “What does that mean?”


Ryan Air: “Well the top-flight inflight service personnel have been rated an 8 or above.”

Me: “Rated how?”

Ryan Air: “By the passengers. We take a poll after each flight, just before we get to the gate.”

Me: “And they base that on…”

Ryan Air: “Overall service, as well as presentation.”

Me: “Presentation?”

Ryan Air: “Frankly, most people base it all on looks. As you can imagine, the real good-looking ones can get away with throwing the peanuts at you, while the homely ones usually have to work a little harder. Just like in the real world, of course! The sub-standard are generally homely and a tad unfriendly, although you didn’t hear that from me.”

Me: “Really? So why doesn’t the airline just fire the sub-standard ones?”

Flight attendantRyan Air: “I’m sorry, sir. I don’t know how it works in your country, but over here we don’t fire someone just because they’re ugly! I mean, trust me, (now in a whisper) the guy sitting next to me here wouldn’t be sitting there if we had that policy!”

Me: “Well, whatever. I just want a comfortable seat. Gimme a standard, um, attendant. So what has all that come to?”

Ryan Air: “Well first we have to figure out your luggage situation before we go any further. Are you planning on bringing luggage?”

Me: “Of course.”

MaskRyan Air: “Okay, so that’s 75 euros for each checked bag as long as they don’t exceed the two kilogram limit.”

Me: “Two kilograms? Isn’t that like about four pounds?”

Ryan Air: “Four point four, to be exact. Will you need to upgrade that?”

Me: “Well, yeah, I think our empty luggage weighs that much!”

Ryan Air: “Ah, yes, I see here you are American. I’ll just check the “American luggage” box, that’s only five euros. In any case, you’ll definitely want to buy a weight upgrade for it. The good news is that it’s only ten euros more.”

Now TransportingMe: “Okay, for how much weight?”

Ryan Air: “That’s per kilogram, up to ten kilograms. Over that is an additional five euros per half kilogram.”

Me: “What th–“

Ryan Air: “But you can bring some things aboard too, if you need to, you know, travel on the cheap.”

Me: “Like a bag?”

Ryan Air: “Well, we usually start with the clothing.”

Me: “Clothing?”

Fly NakedRyan Air: “Yes, will you be wearing any clothing on the flight?”

Me: “Um, yeah, I mean, I hadn’t really considered anything diff–“

Ryan Air: “We do have to account for the added weight, and to, of course, prevent the cheating that sometimes goes on. So if you prefer the nude section, we can save you an extra 50 euros right there.”

Me: “The nude section?”

Ryan Air: “Of course, for those who need the absolute cheapest fare, although we do insist on the ten euro purchase of a non-returnable Ryan Air towel for you to sit on. Of course, we also have clothing kiosks near the gate when you land, if you also don’t purchase a carry-on luggage pass. Would you like an entry pass to our clothing kiosk for twenty euros?”

Me: “We’re not going to fly nude for God’s sake!”

Ryan Air: “Ah, yes, I forgot you were American. No worries. We’ll just add the clothing option, just be sure to keep it under three kilograms, we will be weighing you with and without before boarding. Would you like the private weighing room for twenty euros more?”

Ryan Air PassengerMe: “Gawd, I guess so. But I’m still wondering what the total is.”

Ryan Air: “Of course. But while I’m adding that up would you like to consider our food options?”

Me: “Sigh. Okay, you mentioned peanuts earlier. At least we get peanuts, right?”

Ryan Air: “We can certainly add that to the total. They’re only two euros apiece.”

Me: “Well considering the costs of all the rest of this stuff, that’s not too bad. We’ll take two bags.”

Ryan Air: “Great! How many peanuts per bag?”

Me: “Huh?”

Collecting TrashRyan Air: “That’s two euros per peanut, so you just have to tell me how many peanuts you want all together.”

Me: “Two euros per peanut? What the hell?”

Ryan Air: “It’s supply and demand, sir. You can’t exactly stop at a convenience store while you’re 30,000 feet up in the air, now can you, ha ha!”

Me: “We’ll pass on the peanuts. What total do you have so far?”

Ryan Air: “Of course. Bear with me, I’m still adding it all up. But before we get to that, I am required to tell you that we have travel insurance available as well, which we strongly recommend. You never know when you or your spouse might fall ill, run into a conflict, maybe get a flat tire on the way to the airport, or even find out we just went out of business.”

Me: “Hard to imagine that, when you’re charging two euros a peanut.”

Ryan Air: “Ha ha! That’s capitalism for you! Anyway, on the insurance, it’s only forty-five euros each. That will refund your base fare should a major medical problem, such as death or a similar event, occurs.”

Me: “The base fare? Wait, so you’d refund me only 19 euros?”

Air FranceRyan Air: “Absolutely. And that will even be refunded to your survivors in the unlikely event of a fatal plane crash. Would you like the twenty-five euro survivor notification option?”

Me: “Wait, wait. I still don’t understand. If I even buy a fraction of the stuff you’re offering, we still only get 19 euros back?”

Ryan Air: “Yes, of course, remember, you’re flying on an amazingly inexpensive fare! I must also tell you that we have found, in the event of a fatal crash, the survivors –if you purchase the survivor notification of course– receive a lot of peace of mind when they receive that 19 euro check a year or two later.”

Me:” I’ll take my chances. I still need to know how much all this is going to cost me.”

Ryan Air: “Of course, I’ll give you the total in just a second… “ (lots of typing can be heard). Oh, by the way, I’m seeing our time allotment for this call has almost been exceeded. For just five euros, we can extend the conversation another five minutes.”

Me: “What? Why don’t you just type faster? Or talk faster! Why would I agree–“

Ryan Air: “Okay, sir, I can see you’re a little more, shall we say, frugal than you were letting on at first. No worries. (Starts speaking very quickly.) I can wrap this up shortly and we can avoid that fee. As a reminder, that in the event you do agree to the flight, this conversation is being recorded and will act as our legal agreement, and will be documented inside our Customer Retention & Appreciation Procedures.”

Tail coming offMe: “Customer retent–”

Ryan Air: “Yes, our Customer Retention & Appreciation Procedures, or CRAP, are very important to us. Do you understand all the CRAP as I’ve explained to you?”

Me: “Yeah I certainly understand most of all this is crap, but…”

Ryan Air: “I just need a quick ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for our records. Do you understand?”

Me: “Um, I guess, yes?”

Ryan Air: “Very good sir. As per our terms and conditions, we have recorded your answer for the non-refundable flight and charges. With everything you’ve asked for, we have now charged your credit card on file for the flight, which is 678 euros, per person, each way. With the added taxes, convenience fees, airport permission charges, and sales tax on the fuel surcharges, that comes to 2,712 euros. At Ryan Air, we appreciate your business! Safe trave–”

Recorded Message: “Your time allotment has been exceeded. Your flight has been (in a different voice) booked and your credit card charged.” (Back to the original voice.) “Thank you for flying with Ryan Air!”


Me: I stare at the phone for a while.

“Honey! Guess what! I just booked that nineteen euro fare to Luxembourg!”

Carolyn: “Cool! Where’s Luxembourg?”


We’ll let you know all about it if and when we make it.


Kids note to pilot