Spending Christmas in London


After spending a wonderful few days over Christmas in London with my daughter Fiona Creedon, I find myself pondering over some undesirable events that happened.

I love London with its endless cultural richness with every nationality in the world roaming freely; the vastness of the city with over 9.5 million people; the ‘busy buzz’ that follows one around in shops, buses, restaurants, the underground. It is all-consuming and uplifting at the same time.

Fiona, who works in the city for the last seven years, spared nothing in the welcome she afforded her 72 year old Dad. In other words, everything was planned to perfection – all I had to do was to turn up. This I duly did courtesy of a Ryanair flight FR 265 from Dublin to Gatwick on Friday 23rd December (returning on flight FR113 on Tuesday 27th). All for the princely sum of €79.98 or 39.99 per each way. This was booked on the 21st November with great post-Covid anticipation, as you can imagine.

Inconsistant Ryanair

My outward journey was flawless, carrying my ‘small’ bag onto the plane and helped by a most obliging and friendly cabin crew member. To my surprise, on the return journey I was stopped at the boarding gate and informed that the same ‘small bag’ was no longer small enough. Despite my protests I had to pay a shocking €52.36 extra to get my bag on board. So I ended up paying 131% more for the bag that fitted very snugly into the overhead cabin that I had to pay for myself in row 3B.

I felt horrified. Now these questions run through my head:

  •  A surcharge at the gate of €52.36 on a basic price of €39.99 / or a whopping 131% extra seems totally off the consumer protection Richter scale with no level of proportionality applied. On what basis is the baggage surcharge calculated?
  • Is this exorbitant surcharge legal or simply an abuse of a very dominant position? Once you arrive at the gate to board, one is left with few options. I had considered removing the laptop and leaving the bag behind but not sure if this was an option that would be allowed. Without the laptop, the contents of the small bag hardly exceeded the surcharge.
  • Have I grounds for a formal complaint (I have already completed the online customer dis-satisfaction survey that arrived on the 28th December.) Is there some independent transport supervisory body to which I can send my complaint?
  • Why no consistency in approach? If it was accepted as ‘small’ in Dublin, surely the same bag would fit the ‘small’ description on the same airline out of Gatwick?
  • Is this another clever business strategy being adopted by Ryanair? I noticed from their recent newsletter that they will fly 165,000,000 passengers on their airline in 2023. An additional yield of €1 per passenger on average (over and above what their basic flight costs would bring in an additional €165 million. Not bad business when and where you can get it. (Ryanair got a small windfall of €52.36 from me this Christmas!)

A Christmas Eve Surprise

This truly delightful Christmas adventure was made all the more interesting and challenging by a policy adopted by the Management of the Victoria Palace Theatre on Christmas Eve. We were booked to see the musical Hamilton at the 2.30pm matinee performance, but the surprise was that the show started at 1pm instead of 2.30pm.

My daughter and I arrived at 2pm, along with 30-40 other patrons, to be told that the show had already started (one excuse given was the train strike!) but everybody had been notified by email some weeks earlier. We looked at each other in total shock, as we are both avid musical theatre fans and had been looking forward to this special day for some time. In our case, their email was sent to an address that was used infrequently and we missed this ‘important notice’ in early December. The show was approximately 90% full from the earlier time, so it seemed we were in the minority.

Again, my mind races while I try to make sense of it all:

  • Has this ever happened before or anywhere else in the world? …In that show times were brought forward so performers and staff could finish early, without any thought given to the impact on customers?
  • Surely the email should have requested confirmation back from the customer and perhaps a follow up phone call/text/social media communication to those who may not have replied.
  • Any question of a refund, a free programme or a free drink to compensate was rapidly turned down. It was simply a ‘Like it or Lump it’ attitude adopted by the security people at the door.
  • We had two choices: gain admission for the 2nd half or simply accept our lot and be on our way. We opted for the 2nd half admission in the hope that, with a formal complaint, we will get two complimentary tickets to a full performance in 2023.


Despite these two ‘holiday horrors’ I had the most enjoyable days with the most thoughtful and loving daughter any Dad could ask for. She and I are planning our next adventure into the cauldron called the Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday 4th February for our match against Wales. I haven’t been there since 21st February 1981 when we lost 9-8 (at that time, an unconverted try was only worth 4 points with Fergus Slattery and Hugo McNeill scoring our 2 tries to Wales 2 penalty kicks and a drop goal). This time I will not be travelling via Ryanair as a small protest to the Christmas 2022 experience.

    Developing business plans from startups to large corporations, Paddy Creedon brings a personable and creative approach to business management.

    Grounded in over 40 years experiences, along with his academic qualifications Paddy has the innate ability to get to the nub of the business challenges, quickly and is very solution focused.

    Paddy also enjoys public speaking, poetry and creative writing...