Ryanair: Flying to the top on nickels and dimes

Earlier today, Irish airline Ryanair (RYAAY) posted a 550 percent rise in its quarterly profits. While largely due to a significant reduction in the price of gas, some of the company's impressive earnings jump is due to a recent 13 percent drop in average fares, a move that spurred an 11 percent jump in traffic. Net profits for the three months ending on June 30 was $136.5 million euros, a significant rise over the 132 million euros predicted by analysts.

It isn't hard to see how Europe's cheapest airline makes its money. While not exactly bait-and-switch, Ryanair engages in what might be euphemistically be called bait-and-nickel-and-dime, offering insanely low fares, then hitting its customers with fees for everything, including boarding passes, carry-ons, online check-in, infants, checked baggage, baby strollers, sports equipment, and musical instruments. Ryanair's CEO, Michael O'Leary, has even proposed charging customers for airsickness bags, bathrooms, and obesity.