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I’ve been flying with Ryanair for almost 30 years. My experience has been positive with rare exceptions, the negative experiences usually due to drama from other passengers and weather conditions rather than the shortcomings of the airline.
This Ryanair review post takes a look at some important tips which will both prepare you for the Ryanair experience and enhance your trip. It also outlines the advantages and disadvantages of using the airline.
TIPS FOR FLYING WITH RYANAIR
- Do not book Ryanair flights on any other online portal only the official Ryanair website or its app. However, I’ve heard stories of people who were refused a full refund as they were told they booked through a screen scraper website even though they booked through the Ryanair website. Book through the app if in doubt.
- To keep costs down, Ryanair can often fly to secondary airports that are far from main city centres (e.g. Frankfurt Hahn versus Frankfurt am Main, Paris Beauvais versus Charles de Gaulle or Orly, Stockholm Skavsta versus Stockholm Arlanda).
- The initial price is a seat on the plane. You pay for everything else such as luggage, snacks and where you want to sit. Groups of people booked on the same reservation are split up. You have to pay extra if you wish to sit beside your loved ones.
- Ryanair is a point to point airline. They don’t transfer luggage onwards even if your next flight is with them.
- The planes may not use a sky bridge at the airport which means walking to and from the terminal in all weather conditions or taking an overcrowded bus. It depends on the airport. However, planes load/unload more quickly as both back and front doors are used for passengers.
- Luggage is in three sizes: (a) Small bag that can fit under a seat (b) cabin bag that will fit in the overhead locker (c) Large size. You pay extra to fly with all apart from the small bag that can fit under the seat. Luggage dimensions are listed on Ryanair’s website.
- It’s possible to purchase travel insurance, car hire, accommodation and event tickets from the Ryanair website. However, I can give you good deals on my booking.com portal.
- Most Ryanair flights have a turnaround time of 30 minutes to unload and load planes so speed is of the essence when boarding and disembarking. Sometimes the boarding queue is akin to a rugby scrum although this depends on the cultures of the countries you’re flying between. Observations gained from flying around Europe with Ryanair would certainly make for an excellent anthropological thesis.
- There are two types of boarding queues: (a) Priority boarding where you pay extra to board first and can carry extra hand luggage (b) Non-priority boarding which means elbows at the ready and limits to carry-on luggage.
- There are no seat back pockets so no sick bag is provided.
- You have to print your own boarding card prior to the flight or else pay a fortune for the handling staff at the airport to do it. The boarding pass is easily generated on the Ryanair app for free.
- If the departure airport or destination airport is within the EU, the flight is covered by EU passenger rights law.
- Finally, read the terms and conditions carefully at the time of booking.
ADVANTAGES OF FLYING WITH RYANAIR
- Ryanair has an excellent safety record. In 2018, it was named the world’s safest airline.
- Low prices. People on lower incomes have been able to experience other cultures in ways which were once the realm of the rich.
- The lack of snobbery. Cabin crew treat everyone equally.
- Comprehensive number of routes especially to more off the beaten track areas.
- Self-check in at certain airports is a speedy process and saves queuing.
DISADVANTAGES OF FLYING WITH RYANAIR
- The early morning flights are physically draining. However, a dawn flight means you have almost an extra day at your destination.
- A short turnaround time between flights means a rush when boarding and disembarking.
- Sometimes Ryanair doesn’t fly to central airports which adds time and expense to the journey.
- I’ve never seen the cabin crew intervene when it comes to awkward passengers.
- When things go wrong, their customer service department is difficult to contact. While the ability to make changes to flights online is a speedy process, sometimes you need to speak to a human. I don’t know anyone who has actually spoken to one in the Ryanair Customer Service department.
RYANAIR REVIEW: FINAL THOUGHTS
The fall of communism has been one of the more positive events to happen in Europe in my lifetime. Not long after the Iron Curtain countries allowed people to travel beyond their borders, Ryanair and other budget airlines physically facilitated many of these journeys. Increased cultural awareness and trade have been two of the major spin-offs.
Ryanair’s presence in a region is a boon for tourism. In 1985, when Ryanair was founded, only 1.9m overseas tourists visited Ireland. In 2018, that figure was 9.6m.
When Ryanair came on the scene it gave other airlines formidable competition and gave the travelling public choice. I don’t want to return to the bad old days of airline monopolies and forking out several weeks wages to fly one hour to the UK. I admit I like Ryanair for its punctuality and prices, but I love choice.
I have no connection with the airline other than that of a paying passenger. Yes, I’ve been annoyed with some aspects of its service but then I reflect on the happy memories of places I visited where Ryanair was the airline of transport. And it’s the happy memories that count.
My maiden aviation voyage was onboard Ryanair. Have a read of that experience in my First Flight post.
And whatever your feelings about Ryanair, the benefits of travel are numerous.