It may sound like a classic tabloid sting, but actually it’s an accurate description of my Monday. It started at Gatwick, I dressed up in a pilot’s uniform, and with four models in stewardess uniform we recreated the ‘Catch Me If You Can / Virgin 25 year advert’ scene. It ended by us zipping off to Dublin for an 1½ hours to interview the Ryanair boss.
Pilot’s uniform was more like a stripper’s
When I arrived at Gatwick I was met by Lisa, the ITV Tonight producer (yes it’s all for telly programme on beating budget airline fees, my spare time isn’t quite so fetishistic). I’d presumed they’d have hired a nicely pressed pilot’s suit – but in good MoneySaving style, it was a fancy dress shop disposable pilot’s costume I was given.
Putting it on in the Gatwick loos, I discovered it was all Velcro fastened, with elasticated trousers – for easy to rip-off-ness. What people thought of me walking in normally then coming out dressed in a camp faux pilot’s uniform I can only imagine.
Yet the ‘stewardesses’ looked the part. When I say they were models, that’s not strictly true – though tall and leggy was the name of the game. It was actually two actresses and a dancer, who are friends of some folk at Tonight. The fourth was Georgia, one of the researchers, who bravely ‘volunteered’ at the last minute when another girl pulled out (think ‘volunteered’ in the sense that when asked to step forward, everyone else took a step back leaving her out in front).
After getting over the initial embarrassment, we had great fun walking through the airport arms linked as a five with heads a turning, (exactly what we wanted, the cameraman zipped across to grab the jaw drop shots) and some jealous looks from the real pilots passing.
Yet doing it isn’t as easy as you’d think, normally I’m a confident chap when I’m working, but not exactly having the chiselled jaw looks of the dashing pilot type, I felt quite uncomfortable doing it, so I pulled the cap down low and had the aviator-esque sunglassed on fully.
On to Michael O’Leary
After that, while desperately trying to keep up with the normal daily barrage of 100s emails I receive, it was onto a Ryanair flight with Lisa and Nigel (the cameraman) to interview the Ryanair Chief Exec Michael O’Leary – don’t worry I changed back to normal clobber first.
The first thing to note about this is that one of the conditions of agreeing to the interview is we had to fly there with Ryanair. The plane was 45 minutes late, though I wasn’t worried about missing the interview slot, he couldn’t exactly refuse to do it when it was his own flight that’d caused the issue.
Yet much of that time was made up by the fact the camera kit came out of the baggage hold at speed – normally it can take ages. Yet as so few people check in luggage on Ryanair due to the high charges that wasn’t a problem.
So it was off to Ryanair’s no-frills headquarters. Quite deliberately rather than doing the traditional trying to give Ryanair a kicking type interview (and ending up with nothing that usable), I went in with a different view, afterall you really can fly for a pound sometimes.
So my aim was to be far more “how do you get away with” things like the switch from Electron to Maestro payments – rather than full on confrontational.
I have to admit I enjoyed the interview, we had a good banter, some fun cut and thrust – especially over them defining online check-in as an “extra charge” and I hope it’ll come out well on the TV, though it’s against etiquette for me to reveal the answers pre-broadcast (it was a 20 min interview but only about 2mins will be used).
After that, it was the flight back, catching up on emails and the new look forum look, and trying to get some sleep before a 6.50am GMTV on Tuesday.