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Ryan Air - Love and Hate

While sitting on a Ryan Air flight from London-Stansted to Dublin I decided to write this blog for my American friends who may not know about Ryan Air and the low cost carriers in Europe. Most people who have flown Ryan Air view it with a combination of love and hate. The prices can be the cheapest in Europe, but the website and their pricing policy can be deceiving.

Ryan Air is famous for the €1 or £1 fare that ends up costing $40 or $50 or more. The website quotes ticket prices without the taxes or airport fees. In addition there is an extra charge for checked baggage (as with most airlines in the US). You must do online check in or there is an additional charge…. it can be inconvenient to find a printer when you are on vacation. Nothing on board is free, and there are a large number of products offered for sale, although without any pressure. The products vary from the usual tea, coffee, drinks, etc. to duty free items (think jewelry and perfume) to newspapers to lottery tickets to train tickets for your destination to ... Until recently you were only allowed one item for carry on, one roll-aboard or one purse, not both. You are now allowed a larger item (think small roll-aboard) and one small item(think purse). A warning for those from the US, the large item is a SMALL roll-aboard that is smaller than a standard small roll-aboard in the US or North America, and there is a weight limit of 10 kilo (22 pounds) for both combined.

You can also spend money for priority boarding, but most seating is first come first served. I've heard that Ryan Air had some changes in the works in this area.

If you are a non-EU passport holder, you can now do online check in, but you need to find a visa check desk at the airport to have your Passport checked and your boarding pass stamped as OK. If you don't do this there is another large fee. BTW, I have not seen anyone use their smart phone for check in, not sure how they would stamp your phone ;-)

When trying to do online check in, one needs to be sharp and persistent or else you will end up buying something you didn't really want, like travel insurance or … I actually had to go to the FAQ page to find the link to the online check in page.

The amenities on board are NOT comfortable. The seats on their 737-800’s are spaced as close as any plane I have flown (including a 20 passenger prop plane). The company colors are an “off yellow” and blue. The plastic portions of the seats are the off yellow color, as well as the doors of the luggage bins. There are advertisement slots on both the seats and the luggage bins that are sold to a variety of companies. In addition the seats have NO reclined position. Given that I have never flown more than about 1.5 hours on a Ryan Air flight, this is all OK, thus the preferred sleeping position is leaning forward and resting your head on the next seat. This is all OK … for the right price.

As I said earlier, most people who know Ryan Air have a love-hate relationship. They hate everything I mentioned above, but love the prices, the variety of destinations, and the frequency of flights. The prices are good and you can get to pretty much anyplace in Europe for under $150, albeit with a little bit of flexibility and a little bit of shopping. Ryan Air flies to small towns in Ireland, Italy, Portugal…. While waiting for your flight you will see planes departing to cities (towns?) that you didn’t even know existed. Since Ryan Air flies to these obscure airports, the destination names can be a little misleading. Frankfurt-Hahn airport is different from Frankfurt airport. Additionally, all the Paris airports are not equally convenient .

The frequency of flights is very good for some destinations. For instance, I usually fly from Dublin (the Irish hub for Ryan Air) to London-Stansted (the UK hub for Ryan Air) for business in the UK. The frequency for these flights can be hourly during parts of the day and ever couple of hours during the less traveled times of the day.

As you can imagine, any organization that has a large number of customers with a love-hate relationship will be the subject of quite a bit of parody. Ryan Air is no exception. This video is a good Irish themed song complaining about the same things I described above, but in a very funny way.

Ryan Air has recently been trying to counter their love-hate relationship with their customers and become a “nicer” more “customer friendly airline, with varying degrees of success. Ryan Air is lead by Michael O’Leary. This video is a parody showing Michael O’Leary leading a “retraining course” for Ryan Air employees. (I apologize in advance for the language in these videos)

Despite all of the drawbacks, I can recommend Ryan Air for short hall flights in Europe, as long as you know what you are getting, and don’t think you are getting a full service airline.

See You in the Pub!

Jet Lag Jack

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