RyanairPlus – a cheeky attempt to get around the Captcha, but inevitably leading to brand issues
Many rejoice when low cost carrier Ryanair lands another bout of bad publicity or, more recently, others think of ways of getting around its refusal to work with third parties.
The ire was heightened in recent moves by the carrier the use a CAPTCHA tool on its website to prevent metasearch engines and other sites from scraping fares and availability.
It doesn’t like those pesky sites at all.
Step forward RyanairPlus, a quirky little site which has emerged in recent weeks with the promise of being able to search flights on the Ryanair website but avoiding the CAPTCHA.
It’s very simple and rather limited in functionality, but what it does do is return fares and timetables for the carrier in quite a neat format.
While it feels like the site is just having a bit of fun at the expense of Ryanair, there is the germ of an idea in here.
Getting hold of the people behind it (domain registered in Poland) is difficult, but Tnooz got hold of them after one of its representatives commented on the earlier Ryanair CAPTCHA story.
Anyone who knows anything about how Ryanair considers screen scrapers to be on the same low scale as politicians, journalists and estate agents, will chuckle at the apparent naivety of the site’s creators.
When asked what was the point of the site and where it will go next, “Kris” says via email:
“Currently we just display times and fares. Booking will be next step, if Ryanair let us do that (legal issues). Where’s the point? Nowhere 🙂 We just don’t like Ryanair’s website – that’s all.”
Ryanair might have a problem with you incorporating a booking element?
“Well, we don’t see any technical problems to do that. Just don’t want to break the law.”
While the backers at RyanairPlus might be worried about getting on the wrong side of legal fence over somehow building a booking engine for the carrier’s flights, perhaps its bigger and immediate concern should be one of a conflict over brand association, despite the tiny “Ryanair Plus is not affiliated with Ryanair Ltd” at the foot of the site.
Ryanair, inevitably, has not responded to requests for comment.
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.