Book Review: Ruinair by Paul Kilduff

Ruinair by Paul KilduffRuinair by Dubliner Paul Kilduff remained solidly planted as the number one bestselling nonfiction book in Ireland for its first seven weeks of publication.  It has since gained in popularity throughout Europe, and for obvious reason.  Kilduff’s humorous (spelled ‘humourous’ on the other side of the pond) account of travelling on Ryanair and other low fares airlines throughout Europe should resonate with anyone who has ever taken advantage of the low prices offered by no-frills airlines.

Shameless knock-offs of the hugely successful American mainstay, Southwest Airlines, these European cousins seem to be holding their own, both to the joy and chagrin of their customers, who clearly favor the low fares offered yet relish the opportunity to gripe about their lack of specialized service, their high fees, and other pitfalls.  As Kilduff advises in his book, one must be prepared to travel the low-budget way, and he provides many helpful tips for doing so.

The premise of the book is as follows:

Stung by a ten hour delay and a €300 fare to Spain on his native ‘lowfares’ airline, Dubliner Paul Kilduff plots revenge – to fly to every country in Europe for the same total outlay, suffering every low fares airline indignity.  …And all this on a cheap Irish airline led by a self-proclaimed ‘obnoxious little bollocks‘, which flies from A to somewhere remotely near B, weighs baggage like gold, charges its passengers to check-in or for wheelchairs, sells them hangover cures and scratch cards, lands its aircraft at the wrong airport, takes court cases against its own pilots and doesn’t even care if Kilduff shows up. On his miserly pan-European exploration he reveals the secrets of the new travel phenomenon favoured by one hundred million plus passengers annually.

I found this book an enjoyable read, particularly as in-flight entertainment.  However, I found myself disagreeing with or wanting to correct the notion of a few of the observations made by Kilduff.  One example was in his recounting of an incident in which flight attendants held seats empty “for balance” on a Boeing 737 flight.  Kilduff implies that it is a ploy by the flight attendants to keep seats available for their own gain.  The fact of the matter is that, as crazy as it sounds, this is indeed a safety necessity with particular passenger numbers on Boeing airplanes, and it can be fact checked and confirmed through the Boeing company.

I did appreciate the blunt Irish humor (‘humour’) throughout the book.  Poking fun at tourists, business travellers, airport staff, and airline owners alike, Kilduff’s tongue-in-cheek descriptions of his many trips and misadventures illustrate all that is both worthy and deplorable about air travel as a modern means of transportation.  As a frequent traveller myself, I can not deny that I do sometimes feel like simple “self loading freight” following a cattle-call routine, and yet the world has never been more accessible at our fingertips with high-speed jumbo jets and airfares that make it possible for the average person to cross significant stretches of land and water for as low as one euro — excluding fees, taxes, and surcharges.

The Damian Daily will be hosting an interactive interview with Kilduff on May 31.  He will be available to answer questions posed by readers, and will welcome queries about both his nonfiction and fiction books, his travel experiences, and the writing process.  Please drop by on May 31 to join in the fun.  Participation is encouraged!

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