Friends and lovers, I am telling you breaking news: there is a revolution going on at Ryanair! I got to sense that very clearly during my trip to Germany today. But let me start from the beginning.
Almost exactly four years ago, I struggled with packing up my life in two suitcases. That winter, I was deeply saddened to leave a group of friends I had met and grown close to only months before. In January, I was escorted by friends to a Ryanair plane, I had three kilos too much and they wanted me to pay 60 euros for that before I flew into an uncertain future. Now, fours years later, though in February, I find myself in the almost identicial situation – just that everything is turned around. I am doing the same thing from Stockholm to Germany. Essentially, this means only good things: I have suceeded in building a Swedish home that is equally hard to leave as Germany was four years ago.
After Marita had packed my bags with my help (not the other way around) and I had held a last dinner (don’t know how many last dinners I’ve had, but this one was definitely the last before I left), I auctioned off my belongings to my present friends. So many people who are now blessed with new nailpolish, dubbelhäftande tejp and Queen-Silvia-costumes.
This morning, Nicola came by and asked me deep questions about my Swedish life over breakfast. (I enjoy deep questions and am usually the one interrogating people who are leaving.) I think I managed to answer them quite well but I struggled with naming one song to describe the entire time. Something between I love it, Euphoria and Ack Värmeland, du sköna is probably what I could decide on.
I left the house with what felt like 13 bags. In reality, it was four, and I had the luxury of being driven to Skavsta by my friend Ma Te. I highly doubt I would have made it otherwise, given that I could barely lift my luggage onto the band conveyor at the airport. The entire drive I was nervous about Ryanair denying me to board with all my things and I started preparing Ma Te to take back stuff and store it at his place. (This is nothing new for him, when I first left Sweden 2010, he accomodated among other things my sleeping bag for months on end.)
As we made it to the airport just on time and I rush to the check in, I felt the first revolutionary breeze at Ryanair. You need to know that I have flown that airline many, many times. Not because I enjoy it but because it is the fastest way between my preferred destinations. I feel like I live on Skavsta and when I am driving from the airport to Stockholm, I actually recognize every fork on the country road. The flight attendants are familiar faces to me by now (I am not kidding you, today I got to meet Monica again, very pleasant!) and when the plane flies over the Öresund, I look outside and see the shape of Falsterbo and think, “Oh, right, here we are now, not it’s 33 minutes left”. When you are this intimate with Ryanair, you notice every little change. And you certainly notice when the guy behind the counter says, “You can take two pieces of hand luggage” – Helen’s eyes widen – “Ah, don’t worry that it is three kilos too much, they never weigh hand luggage” – Helen holds her breath – “You have an assigned seat now so that you do not have to fight for getting a good spot” – Helen nearly has a heart attack.
What is happening with that airline? Where does the service revolution come from? As if the change from the “If bag is too heavy, bag doesn’t travel!”- policy to disinterest in additional kilos wasn’t shocking enough, the staff was actually nice and cheerful. The revolution peaked in the flight attendant offering me to take a seat in another row, “it’s all empty, if you want to have more space and sit by the window?”
I mean, where is this going, what is next? Will they give you free water to drink soon? Will they print out your boarding passes for you next month? Will they start treating their staff like human beings eventually? At this point, it feels like anything can happen. And I get to be right in the center of where low-cost-airline-history is written – because I am sure there will be a lot of North-Germany-Stockholm going on in my life ahead.