DUBLIN, Ie. – In an effort to reduce costs to travelers this summer, Europe’s top low-budget airline announced it will offer the use of seat belts as an optional upgrade – similar to extra leg room – rather than a standard amenity. “Seat belts on an airplane are a bit like screen doors on a submarine,” CEO Ryan O’Leary told CNNMoney. “That being said, some travelers still rely on it as an illusion of safety.”
O’Leary said RyanAir has already begun the process of removing seat belts from its fleet of three hundred forty-two airliners currently in service. “It’s a bit of a strenuous task as you might imagine,” O’Leary said. “However, our repeat customers have come to expect the benefits of a low-cost airline and we are able to achieve that standard by eliminating some of the more unnecessary elements of air travel.”
British travel guru and former Virgin Atlantic pilot Liam Finn praised RyanAir’s decision to phase out seat belts, calling the move a “brilliant” money saver. “They’re really quite useless,” Finn told Sky News. “For a lot of folks – particularly Americans – it can be a life or death struggle simply squeezing into them.”
Aviation industry leaders say wearing a seat belt wont protect you in the event of a terrorist bombing or the aircraft suddenly losing power due to a lightning strike and nose-diving into the side of a mountain. “Light turbulence is about all they’re good for,” Victor Robles, assistant director of public relations for American Airlines, told Real News Right Now.
A spokesperson for RyanAir said the company will begin offering seat belt upgrades to its customers on June 6 with rates starting at €19.99. Passengers can purchase the upgrade online or at check-in. Business class travelers will have the option to upgrade in-flight for €29.99.