Airline CEO says he's serious about charging for bathrooms

A week ago, when we reported that Irish budget airline Ryanair was thinking about charging its passengers to use the bathroom, we assumed (as did many others) that the entire plan was a cheap stunt. Although the airline has already demonstrated its ability to push the outer edges of the thrift envelope, the idea of charging for potty privileges seemed dangerous, self-destructive, and borderline illegal. After the announcement, and Ryanair's ensuing flush of free publicity, most pundits assumed that the idea would quietly disappear.

This week, however, Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary emphasized that he was not joking and that he has already asked airline manufacturer Boeing to design bathrooms that will only open after being swiped with a credit card. Apparently, his earlier idea of offering coin-operated toilets was problematic, given that Ryanair travels between Great Britain, which uses pounds, and the rest of Europe, which uses the Euro. Since coin-operated doors can only accept one type of currency, either Brits or other Europeans would be stuck without bathroom privileges for the duration of their flight.