Tips for Flying Ryanair
When you think of budget airlines I bet Ryanair is one of the first ones that comes to mind, isn’t it? They advertise prices so low that you figure they can’t be true. Well, they are…sort of. Flying Ryanair can be cheap but it can also test your fine print reading skills and the limits of your patience. Make a wrong move and it could cost you. I recently made my first two trips with the discount carrier and I wanted to share a few things I learned.
Choosing and buying the flight
The first thing to know is that the advertised cost of your ticket really only includes getting your physical person and two cabin bags from point A to point B. That’s it. It doesn’t even include your boarding pass so be sure that you’re handy to a printer before you leave.
They’re serious about being A->B only too. There are signs at the ticket desks telling you not to try to book a connecting flight as they can’t help ensure you make it. Miss your self-made connection? Well, you’ll have to buy a whole new ticket. And there’s a fee for buying at the airport of course.
If you know you’ll be checking a bag, pay for it in advance when you buy your ticket because it’ll be more expensive at the airport. You can choose the amount of weight you’d like to check. Standard suitcase will generally land in the 20kg level (44lbs). It actually cost more for my suitcase to fly from Ibiza to Barcelona than it did for me. Oh well, girl’s gotta have her shoes.
There’s a small chance you can get out of paying altogether if you’re from the EU. Just pay an extra €2 to spin the wheel to get your flight for free. I wonder if anyone actually wins? Probably the person booking the €20 flight and I bet winning doesn’t cover fees.
Make sure your plans are solid because if you need to make a change to your itinerary, you might be better just buying a whole new ticket.
Double check which airport they fly into. Ryanair can say that’s fly to Paris, for example, but it’s actually Beauvais. PITA (pain in the ass) factor is high in getting to or from there. I chose to go Aer Lingus for that leg instead because they flew into Charles de Gaulle, which was a lot more convenient.
Before You Go to the Airport
Check in online. This is a must. If you wait to check in for your flight at the airport you’re going to be facing a €70/£70 fee for the privilege. Just need your boarding pass? That’s €15/£15 please.
Note: if you happen to be flying out of the UK, expect the same fees, just switch € for £. So you’re going to be paying about 20% more.
Online check-in opens 30 days before flights, which I thought was great because that meant that I wouldn’t have to find a printer while travelling. Except… For that first week, you can only complete check in if you oh choose a seat, for a fee of course. In my case it was €3 for one flight and €5 for the other.
You’re going to use your credit card to pay for that right? Yeah, there’s a fee for that. 2% of the ticket price.
At the Airport
Hope you like lining up. As soon as the gate is announced, everyone lines up, even though boarding won’t start for at least 20 minutes and everyone has an allocated seat. Paid for priority boarding? There’s a line for that too. There’s no rhyme or reason with boarding so it’s all rows, all the time.
Thought you were being smart flying carry-on only? Staff came through the boarding line on my two flights and gate checked most rolling bags. You got to stand in the priority line in exchange…along with half the flight. You could try to refuse but they’ll probably come back later and insist. But this isn’t even the gate check where you pick it up on the jetway on your way out. Nope. You’re going to have to go to the baggage carousel and wait with all us schmucks who checked a bag.
Shocking no one, there’s nothing free on board a Ryanair flight. They charge €3 for a newspaper. Any drinks or snacks are extra, even water. Need bus tickets to Dublin City Center? €6 one-way, €10 return – same price as on the bus. How about perfume? Gifts? Toys? Yep, they sell all those on board too. Don’t forget the scratch tickets for charity. Flight attendants make the trip up and down the aisle with these as well.
Would I Fly With Them Again?
Maybe. Even with all the fees they were still cheaper than other airlines and the flight itself was actually more comfortable than some other flights I’ve had with bigger airlines. Make no mistake, they’ll be trying to get their hands into your wallets at every turn from the time you buy the ticket to the time you get off the plane but you can usually swat them away. You do have to be careful though. A slip up could cost you a lot.
Have you flown with Ryanair? Do you have any tips?
November 18th, 2014 at 10:38 pm (#)
Melissa, I love your blog!! And especially because you are Canadian :D I was googling travel blogs for girls and this came up. This Ryan air post is so so helpful – I was just in Munich for work, and probably would have made the most of the last weekend if I was more confident about Ryan air. We will hit this up when we go to Italy in the spring for sure! :)
Jill @ http://www.champagneforeveryday.com
November 24th, 2014 at 4:45 pm (#)
Really good tips! Always better and good to know in advance this “details” then when arriving to the airport and need to pay couple or more bucks cause you had no idea they charge for almost averything! Never fly with them so great to have this info!
November 24th, 2014 at 5:06 pm (#)
So you mean the air I breathe on the plane is free? Woo hoo what a great deal! Haha love this post :) Very useful and a good heads up for those who have never flown Ryanair before.
November 24th, 2014 at 6:13 pm (#)
Great advice Melissa! I haven’t been to Europe in over a decade, but when I go back I’ll definitely be using your tips!
November 24th, 2014 at 7:04 pm (#)
As if traveling weren’t stressful enough! I haven’t flown Ryan Air but imagine running their gauntlet of fee options and strategies would be exhausting. Ryan Air – not for the faint of heart or dear of purse (in spite of all the marketing!)
November 24th, 2014 at 7:09 pm (#)
Despite the potential money pits, my Ryanair flights did end up costing me less than the same flights with other airlines would’ve. In one case, I went with the more expensive flight though because it landed right in Paris instead of 90min away. But yeah, it’s a lot of hurdles to get those cheap rates.
November 24th, 2014 at 8:43 pm (#)
I haven’t flown with Ryan Air but it sounds a lot like Spirit Airlines who I just flew with recently for the first time. If it still ends up being cheaper and you can avoid all the nickel-and-diming they try to do, it’s probably worth it from time to time. I hated that Spirit’s seats didn’t recline because some of my flights were 4+ hours long and I wanted to sleep, but no dice. Thanks for these tips!
November 24th, 2014 at 8:43 pm (#)
We have flown with them several times, as we were based in Spain for 2 years. Follow the carry on guidelines and you are golden. My hubby Alan is 6’5″, so it is worth getting that emergency exit row for the tall ones. Now that we are exploring Southeast Asia for a year, our Ryanair flights aren’t happening, but in Europe they would be if it was the right price. Thanks for the tips!
July 30th, 2015 at 6:04 pm (#)
Good tips, thanks! It’s certainly a tradeoff, and you should know what you’re getting into. I feel similarly about Spirit Air in the US – it’ll be cheap, with a worse experience (if the things that you don’t receive are valuable to you). Travelers need to decide which is more valuable.