Please Do Not Tamper With the Coin Slots in the Airplane Lavatory

New economic realities have forced companies to scrounge for any available penny. Airlines, those money-losing behemoth of the sky, in particular have cut the extras and foisted baggage charges onto anything larger than a shoebox on some routes. Now one Irish airline is inaugurating a pay-to-pee program that it hopes will help keep profits from flushing down the toilet.

By limiting their service to cheap secondary hubs like Wroclaw and Haugusund, maintaining high traffic at off-hours (3 a.m. arrival at Dubrovnik International, anyone?), and charging for just about everything except cabin pressure, the Irish discount carrier Ryanair was able to keep fares low while spreading its network across Europe and North Africa like a particularly virulent flu strain. And the fares were unbelievably low. This blogger credits Ryanair for his cheapest ticket ever snagged: Barcelona-Milan €13 round-trip.

But in the midst of crisis that's even affecting the most frugal companies, Ryanair has floated its most draconian measure yet. CEO Michael O'Leary announced on BBC Breakfast that he may require passengers to pay $1.43 to use onboard lavatories. The blogosphere followed the announcement imagining various scenarios of how such a rule might play out mid-flight.

Ryanair is probably one of the few comapanies unconcerned with negatively affecting their product quality by slashing costs. After all, they have built a legacy around low quality. Most businesses however must walk a thin line between leveraging cost-saving and sending their bottom line south. If big thinkers have any views on how businesses should strategize to remain attractive while delivering less, we encourage you to debate and discuss.

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