Travelling with Ryanair for newbies
Ryanair offers shockingly low prices but some of their policies are equally extraordinary. They found a niche in the market where they are a leader. And they work hard for it.
Internet is full of horror stories, I personally witnessed a situation when a couple wasn’t allowed on board because Ryanair allows overbooking. That basically means they always sell more tickets than there is spaces. Just so you don’t get caught out. Some of their fees are really outrageous.
Anybody thinking of travelling with Ryanair should first read their FAQ.
Ryanair are as inflexible as required to lay their hands on your money. I.e. if they can charge you, they will charge you. Any mistakes on the part of the traveller are penalised severely. They make millions on those hidden charges.
Credit Card Fees
Something I talked about already.
Passengers are encouraged to only take as little baggage as possible. Ryanair’s really strict. Here’s an excerpt from their FAQ:
Each passenger is permitted to check- in up to a maximum of 2 bags with a maximum weight of 15 kilos per bag (subject to the payment of the applicable checked baggage fees).
Checked baggage fees are charged per person/per one way flight. Discounted fees are available online.
No pooling or sharing of baggage allowances is permitted, even within a party travelling on the same reservation. Each checked bag is permitted a maximum 15kgs allowance. In the event that you are travelling with 2 checked bags please be aware that no pooling of individual checked bag allowance is permitted (each bag is permitted a maximum weight of 15 kilos).
Any passenger exceeding their 15kg personal checked baggage allowance (per checked bag purchased) will be charged for the excess weight at the applicable rate per kilo
It really is worth reading through this section prior to making your travel arrangements. Every single item of luggage apart from the cabin baggage is charged for separately.
Each passenger (excluding infants) is permitted to carry one piece of cabin baggage on board (free of charge). Strictly one item of cabin baggage is permitted per passenger (excluding infants). Your handbag, briefcase, laptops, shop purchases, camera etc must be carried within your permitted 1 piece of cabin baggage. It should weigh no more than 10kg and not exceed the maximum dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm.
So it is strictly 1 item of hand luggage ONLY and nothing more period! This also applies to any items purchased at duty free shops. You’ll have to fit all your belongings into the one item of hand luggage.
Before you ask, they do check if your luggage fits within the maximum dimensions. I have a case that is barely within these measurements and am often asked to put it through the baggage gauge. You may not believe me but I did see disappointment on their faces when it did. I don’t know if they are commissioned for any oversize baggage that they find or if it was spontaneous.
You should also be careful about your hand luggage:
Extra/oversized cabin baggage will be refused at the boarding gate, or where available, placed in the hold of the aircraft for a fee of £35/€35. If you are unsure, check at the Bag Drop desk before going through security.
Be warned Ryanair are now becoming completely militant about bags at the gate. In Prestwick they are now weighing bags at the gate and if you are even 1kilo over they will charge you £35 to check your bag in. At Dublin if your bag does not fit in the baggage gauge they too will sting you with a 35EUR fee. Ryanair are cheap but can end up being much more expense. Unless you have no choice book another airline or if you do fly with them make sure your cabin bag is small and weights just 10kg.
Print boarding cards
If you follow the strict rules and print off boarding cards and stick to luggage limits you will be fine. Staff surly and very quick to check you are compliant – and woe betide if you are not as they are ferocious in making sure you are within the rules. On our return flight many (15-20 ) passengers were pulled to one side and made to condense cabin luggage. A no frills airline I would use again if there was no other choice. Other negatives – constant selling during the flight and the most uncomfortable seats ever even on short haul.
Online check-in is currently the only option. You must have your boarding cards printed out or guess what – there will be an additional fee. Again absent those minded, lost or forgetful will be penalized for their lack of organization. This really is infuriating as surely other airlines would simply find out a way of resolving this type of issue. But the whole purpose is that you do pay the fee if you have forgotten because it’s yet another source of income.
I never needed to phone Ryanair apart from the one time when I found out about their enormous telephone charges. I decided it wasn’t that important for me to contact them anymore 🙂 . However, their outrageous telephone fees seem to have changed since.
A remnant of the good old times is this website. As I check today it costs 1op per minute to contact them from a landline in the UK within the normal working hours weekdays only. However, they still have the expensive line paid at £1 per minute that’s open longer hours as well as weekends. Just so you know in case you have to phone them in emergency.
You will probably find their cheap lines extremely busy but it’s one of their strategies to minimise costs. You should only call with important matters. It’s nice to benefit from their low prices so we should all respect the fact they’re saving on the contact centres (I guess it’s easy to say when everything goes well but much harder when you’re pissed off).
Arriving ahead of schedule is their greatest pride. If they land ahead of schedule or on time it’ll be announced on board and the message is usually followed by another about how 95% or their flights arrive on time.
Ryanair is Europe’s most punctual airline, as verified by the UK Civil Aviation Authority. We are committed to doing all we can to operate flights on time. You can help us enormously by being fully prepared for your flight. In particular, by pre-booking on our website for items such as checked baggage/priority boarding/baby car/booster/seats/sports/musical equipment; arriving at the airport in good time; travelling with the correct cabin baggage allowance; having the correct travel documentation ready for inspection at check-in, at security points and at the gate; and arriving at the boarding gate in plenty of time.
I guess the idea behind their punctuality is much more than just PR. Airlines pay for “any Aircraft which is on the Airport (from touch down to take-off) or scheduled to be on the Airport for any part of the following periods“.
Which is just one of the many fees. Here’s an examples of charges applied by the London City Airport.
Ryanair’s trying to keep these costs to the minimum, as “or scheduled to be on the Airport for any part of the following periods” simply means that if the plane is late your fees start to be calculated at the beginning of plane’s scheduled arrival up until the late departure time.
Some of the non-cheap carriers are not very strict about punctuality, some are even notorious for not sticking to the timetable but its passengers that are paying for their negligence.
On the other hand, Ryanair staff are extremely well organised and will push for speedy boarding. Which is what brings me to allegations of their lack of friendliness.
I guess sometimes you could really say they’re unfriendly. Some of them are very tense and strict. I have never seen any of the staff losing it with any of the passengers but I wouldn’t be surprised to find this to happen occasionally.
On the I hate Ryanair blog I found this comment by one of Ryanair staff:
I work for Ryanair myself, as a cabin crew, and really can only apologize for what we’ve got to offer. People seem to forget that both crew and passengers should both stay on the same side and blame whoever is making great money out us, real idiots, that for one reason or the other, have to work or fly for this company. Ryanair sucks, no way how to deny it, but can we really start doing something about it? As for myself, having to daily deal with both very unhappy cabin/flight crew and angry passengers, I can only suggest that we cooperate and put Ryanair where they really deserve: in court! To those passengers who take it on crew i beg you some mercy because we are, at the end of the day, the ones that suffers the worse of treatments, the ones that literally starve in foreign countries and put into debt and live in constant fear of loosing our miserable job just because somebody is in a bad mood. For some, the solution is simple and immediate: leave Ryanair! Unfortunately, this is so well schemed out, that most of us end up owing more money to the company and to the bank that we have no other choice. What Ryanair do to hire crew is called fraud very well hidden in smart contracts and based on big lies. Most of us are trapped and desperately seeking help to get rid of this company. Normally, we are foreigners that got into debt, changed country and find ourselves in a dead end. To all the unhappy passengers, again, I apologize and ask for their help. I am currently seeking help in an European court and encourage others to do so. Sometime, this has to end because such a fraud cannot sustain a company on a long term. That’s Ryanair’s biggest stupidity.
I have no clue what this person means by fraud very well hidden in smart contracts but it is definitely alarming.
Generally, you’re safe if you know the rules and come prepared. Once they have noticed you don’t know the rules they’ve got you. And they’ll make you suffer. You’re their prey of the day 🙂 . Some people feel uncomfortable about being rushed about and sometimes patronized.
No airport announcements
Don’t expect to hear any airport announcements of this sort: “Passenger Smith and Wozinsky are requested to proceed to gate number 5”. Ryanair doesn’t pay for airport announcements and you have to make sure you’re at the right gate at the right time.
No connecting flights
Be careful when booking connecting flights with Ryanair. You’ll have to check in at the airport again to get onto another flight. And if you have little time or the first plane is late the plane won’t wait for you.
Ryanair is a ‘point-to-point’ airline. We therefore do not offer, and cannot facilitate, the transfer of passengers or their baggage to other flights, whether operated by Ryanair or other carriers.Passengers should not book onward flights connections with Ryanair or indeed with any other air or surface carrier.
Ryanair accepts no responsibility for making connections and therefore will not be liable for any losses or expenses arising out of any failure to achieve a planned connection. Source: Can I book a connecting flight with Ryanair?
That also means, if you want to buy tickets for more than one journey, you’ll need to pay credit card fees again unless you have a Visa Electron.
No changes can be made to a reservation once a passenger has checked in for a flight
As you probably know, Ryanair currently only offers online check-in. That means you’ll be filling in your personal details yourself: your date of birth and passport number must be correct. You will be refused to go onboard if your details don’t match exactly. And if they don’t you’ll also not be able to make any changes. The only option then is to buy a new ticket.
No senior fares
As simple as that.
Excess baggage fees
Again, sever penalties per each kilo of excess baggage. You can end up paying a fortune. Always consider flying with another airline if you have a lot of excess stuff.
Flights cancellation and schedule changes policy
If your flight is cancelled or before the date of travel, is rescheduled so as to depart more than three hours before or after the original departure time then you will be entitled to a travel credit or full refund of all monies paid if the alternative flight/s offered are not suitable to you and you do not travel. Source: Ryanair Terms and Conditions of Travel
What this means is if your Ryanair flight is cancelled or rescheduled 2 days prior to your planned flight you’ll get your money back. Say, you paid £10. This is precisely what you’re gonna get. I guess I don’t have to tell you booking with another airline 2 days prior to departure is going to be expensive 🙂 .
Remote and secondary airports
Yeah, that’s quite of a nuisance actually. Recently I bought very cheap tickets to Oslo Torp and was very disappointed when I found bus travel to Oslo would cost me almost twice as much as I paid for my fare. This is a part of the cheap ticket deal. Some of the airports are quite far away from bigger cities so plan your trip ahead. The use of cheap airports is combined with the use of ‘cheap’ arrival/departure hours.
Weird arrival/departure times
Some airports start to charge extra early in the morning just so it’s possible to get to or from the airport using public transport. Ryanair, however, sometimes schedule their flights beyond these periods, usually early in the morning or late at night. Beware, because if you don’t own a car you’ll pay dearly for a cab.
From my experience Ryanair do charge their customers for most stupid things. This is their policy, this is how they make money. Frequent flyers are not surprised and come prepared. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way and wish I had known how strict they were in executing their rules. That’s the way it is and once you accept it you’ll enjoy their low prices.
For those interested, here’s some info:
Let me know of your experiences with Ryanair. Were they bad/good? Do you enjoy flying with Ryanair? Do you hate them?