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buses, planes and pains

You have to feel sorry for Michael O'Leary and Ryanair.

They sell an air ticket between Portugal and Dublin for probably about £50. The flight is cancelled because of a volcano in Iceland that neither Michael nor anyone else from Ryanair set off.

Then they are ordered by the European courts to pay the passenger £1000 for taxis, hotels, meals and maybe an entire wardrobe of clothes.

This is obviously unfair since Ryanair didn't budget in the £50 fare for putting the passenger up at a Hilton hotel, buying dinner and a new set of underwear from Primark.

It is unfair on me since the next time I buy a Ryanair flight there will be a new European compensation levy. In addition to existing fees such as the EU 261 levy, web check-in fee, ETS passenger fee, £10 for a reserved seat, £25 to check in a bag and £6 administration fee for Ryanair to administer the collection of the above sums of money.

Despite all these levies, there are times (usually on a dark January day) when I can fly from Prestwick to Barcelona (which God preserve) for £20. I am not part of some jet set. I have bought a ticket for a bus service with wings.

If the Icelandic volcanoes erupt again I don't expect a room at the Barcelona Hilton, to be taken to dinner at Set Portes, or bought Calvin Klein underpants from Corte Ingles.

A cup of tea, a sandwich and a kind word would be nice.

I have no experience of Ryanair crisis care. In 10 years of regular travel with Ryanair no flights have been cancelled. Only a handful have been late.

I am more worried about domestic bus travel. Apparently because of the cost of my bus pass, the system is under threat. Services will be cut back.

We will wait hours for a number 44. In which case I hope the European courts ensure we are properly compensated.

More than an hour's delay at the bus stop in Hope Street and I expect to be offered lodgings at the nice new Central Hotel. Or a voucher for something hot from Greggs.

The bus driver might even be equipped with a flask to provide a warming coffee. He will say: "Have a roll as well. Cheese and pickle or egg and cress?"

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