Airline Review: Ryanair

By Nomadic Matt | Published September 7th, 2008

Two Ryan Air airplanes waiting to take off in EuropeA lot has been written about the European discount airline Ryanair. Based out of Dublin, this airline offers dirt-cheap fares across Europe.

People either love or hate them.

People love the cheap fares but hate the lack of service. However, the airline only offers you one thing: space. Expecting more is foolish. At the prices they’re charging, they can’t offer you anything else. If you’re looking for amenities, do not fly Ryanair. If you want cheap tickets, do.

Ryanair is a great bargain and a decent airline to fly, as long as you know what to expect.

In order to keep those fares cheap, Ryanair employs a number of cost-cutting measures. They fly out of secondary airports, offer no food or beverages, no in-flight entertainment, and virtually no service. But the main reason why everything is so cheap? High fees. You get the fare for free, but if you want to make any changes or need a refund, the fees are so high, you’re better off just buying a new ticket.

Moreover, Ryanair is the perfect airline for travelers with no bags. If you have more than a carry-on, you’re going to be hit by a lot of fees. It costs $24 to check a bag, and the more bags you put in the hold, the higher the charges. In the end, all those fees can add up to an expensive flight and make flying a normal carrier more attractive.

Inside Ryan AirYet Ryanair offers extremely cheap fares—sometimes a ticket is only the taxes. I flew from London to Holland for $50 because there was no fare—only $18 in taxes. The rest of the cost was the airline fees for my bag and check-in. Despite the fee, it was still cheaper than my bus from Birmingham to Lancaster, England. A common complaint about Ryanair is the fees, and if you don’t read the fine print or watch carefully, you’ll pay so many fees that the flight will cost you more than a regular airline. This is one of the common downsides to getting a cheap airline. But if you can be savvy and avoid the fees, you’ll get an extremely cheap ticket!

The cheap flights are generally offered early in the morning. Later flights are almost never $0, unless there’s a sale or it’s booked far, far in advance. Moreover, if there is a fare, the taxes will be higher for that ticket. So keep an eye out for that.

Service on Ryanair is fine because there is none. At these prices, you shouldn’t expect any. Food and drink cost money. And the flight attendants are just chaperones there in case of emergency.

Seats are pretty small, and the décor is a little worn and drab. The planes are old. But as I said in the beginning, you’re simply renting space on the plane, and if you’re expecting anything more, you should look elsewhere.

So who is this airline perfect for? The cheap budget traveler.

If you have limited flexibility, a lot of bags, or like your amenities, do not fly Ryanair. You’ll hate it. But if you don’t mind flying out early, only care about cost, and just have one bag, this airline is a great way to quickly get across Europe.

I don’t love flying Ryanair, but for the price I’m paying, I have nothing to complain about. All I want is space anyway.

comments 13 Comments

Eva

I can live without amenities, but what I can’t live with is an airline that doesn’t actually get me there. Both times I have booked with Ryanair, they have cancelled my flight at the last minute (once I was already at the airport) and refused to offer any refund. Sure, it wasn’t much money, but a new flight on the same day sure was!

They also sell “gift certificates” to unwitting parents of budget travelers that can’t be used for booking online. Only by phone, to a pricey 1-900 number, and none of the low web fares are available by phone. As far as I’m considered, they’ve robbed me and my Dad.

I go with EasyJet all the time – better airports, and they actually take responsibility: ie, if they sell you a ticket, they actually put you on a plane. Low fares are no excuse for lying and theft.

One word about Europe’s budget airlines in general: before you book, find out about public transit to those secondary airports! Often, especially for the early morning flights that are the cheapest, there’s no way to get there besides a cab – which will generally cost you more than your flight did…

NomadicMatt

@Eva: I went looking on their website and there is a free number but it clearly says that flights are only available via phone and that “Web fares/discounts are available using voucher payment.”

This is what they say about flight cancellations “Ryanair does not provide monetary compensation under Article 7 of EU Regulation 261/2004 for flights which are delayed or cancelled for reasons beyond Ryanair’s control (extraordinary circumstances). You may therefore wish to ensure that you have suitable private insurance cover in force to cover such eventualities. Your rights under EU Regulation 261/2004 are unaffected, so in the case of denied boarding, flight cancellation or a delay in excess of two hours you will be provided with a written notice setting out the rules for compensation and assistance in line with such Regulation.”

Sorry you had a bad experience with them but this experience could be repeated with airlines like American.

But I do agree, check the airport transport! SO many airlines (not just ryan air) fly into secondary airports and transportation from them is sometimes expensive. I took Transavia to Bordeaux’s secondary airport in Bergerac and it cost me 30 euros to get into Bordeaux center!!

I’m not a huge Ryanair fan but they did force the competition to raise its game and lower its prices. As a result I got to travel to destinations in Europe I wouldotherwise not have been able to afford so my hats off to Ryanair!

Eva

Hey Matt,

Sounds like they’ve changed their system a bit since I tried to use those un-usable gift certificates (a couple years back). Glad to hear it, but I still won’t be giving them another chance!

I don’t fly American either, but I’ve never heard of a legacy carrier just leaving passengers completely adrift at an airport with no refund or alternate flight arrangement provided though…

I’ve flown ryanair and was mostly happy with my experience. Yeah, there’ s no service, but with the crabby, minimal service you get on the big airlines (mostly the American ones, I’ve noticed), you might as well pay less than half the price for what amounts to pretty much the same thing.

We planned and booked our trip to Italy in January this year, but then a last-minute wedding necessitated a change in plans. I tried to change our NWA tickets, but at $400/each, that was going to be too pricey. So hoping our kids were old enough to manage a hideous Seattle-Heathrow-Luton-Pisa routing we picked up some super-cheap 5am seats on a Ryanair flight. So far so good.
When my kids finally arrived in Lucca, we sat down for well-deserved sodas. In the ensuing silence, my 12-yr-old said “Mom, I never, ever, want to fly Ryanair again”. In his opinion, Ryanair is as close to utter torture as a person can possibly get while travelling. While I’m paying for tickets for all of us, my bet is he’ll be grumbling at least once or twice more as we take advantage of cheap seats. But, it does make you think, have Ryanair taken things to such a low level of non-service that it’s making other airlines start behaving in the same way ? That would be a sad thing.

Dave

I know this blog post was from 2008 but I had to leave a comment and disagree with you describing their planes as old… The average age of the Ryanair fleet is 3.5 years, the youngest of any airline. Im assuming you were onboard one of the older planes which are drab and run down but in fairness to ryanair the majority of their planes are new, with more new aircraft constantly being delievred!

jodan young

ryanair are a small cheapish airline i mean what is the point in £1 to pee!! i am a ryanair fan but that doesent let me say things like this and see the song it can be realy cringy

A few extra thoughts on Ryanair or other low-cost airlines, and how tickets sometimes aren’t that cheap:
-the fact that they fly to secondary airports means flying to nearby cities far away from your destiny, which means there isn’t the regular direct train or shuttle downtown, and sometimes this could mean an extra cost to reach your destiny.
-it’s very common for these flights to leave/arrive very early or late, which could mean the only means to reach your destination is by taxi, an extra cost.
-when booking return tickets it’s very common to only find very cheap tickets for one of the trips

I’m actually surprised this article was re-posted again on facebook after the dior service ryanair provided to passengers during the recent volcanic ash sitation in Europe. They are currently under investigation because of how bad they treated their passengers during this time, and did provide them with the services they were entitled too under EU law. The also have one of the worst complaints records for any airline in Europe ever.
I’ve flown with Ryanair about 3 or 4 times in the past, and I would never fly with them again. I appreciate that they are cheap, and I am more than happy with no frills when I’m flying, but I feel they advertise flights as £1 or £0, when in fact it is always going to be more than that when you add taxes, and any baggage costs (most people have to fly with luggage), it is usually no cheaper than other carriers such as EasyJet, Flybe, or Jet2. They are also really strict with the amount of hand luggage you can take on, and the service I experienced was not just non-existent, it was damm right rude! Although mostly the staff have been fine with me, on a recent flight to the Canary Islands I witnessed one member of staff actually shouting at passengers. This could have been just one bad member of staff, but neverthelesss, I’ve never seen this happen on any other airline in Europe.
I would much rather pay £5 more, and fly with a different budget airline in Europe that provides me with better service, and whom I know will deal with any complaints should they arrise. If flying somewhere where no other budget airline flys, I would actually rather pay more for the flight, fly to the main airport, and have a nice flight rather the hoarded like cattle experience Ryanair provides!

Ryanair’s idea of travel is much the same as hopping on a bus. Why does no one complain about the service offered on a coach?
What ever you think of this company their marketing is brilliant.
Cheers
Beermatman

R. Keller

Worst experience in my life, my first trip to London and I found Ryanair while planning my Europe trip. Flying into Manchester, London Airport, an advertisement to Ireland came up. Therefore, we added and changed all our plans to visit Ireland for the first three long days and two nights a mother traveling alone with her adult daughter and her friend. However, we did read the fine print for this “low cost flight” one thing important we knew in advance was how to check in our luggage and printed the 20 pages to the rules on luggage alone. Which it had to be done within 24 hours prior to your flight, in reality is 20 hours prior to travel because the have a lock out four hours before your flight departs. Plus, online is the only way to check in for your luggage, it cannot be done at the airport counter like a real airline. I honestly think they over book each flight therefore, when enough people check in as to fill all the seats, if there is to many they have ways to weed out those extra people, one way is to do away with those who check in luggage. I honestly believe they shut down the website and then you can blame no one, basically to bad to sad. You didn’t check in by the rules, because the time frame needed the link on their website was not working. My daughter and I are experienced travelers we made sure we had a long lay over in Manchester as a back up for possible flight delays or any unforeseen problems that could arise. Therefore we arrived six hours prior to our flight for Ryanair, which gave us two hours to check in our luggage on the website at the designated computer to Ryanair which they said to use to check our luggage in at the airport, and the website luggage check in link still was not working after we tried endlessly from every computer, I Pad, laptop, two I phone we had to no avail. In the end we were denied to fly because we had luggage. However, not only was this a nightmare, it cost us (3 passengers) an added $200.00 each to make other last minute travel arrangement to Dublin. But by far worse was not the cost or money, it took us 24 hours extra to get to Ireland. We lost our hotel reservation due to no way to contact them to let them know what was going on. We left the US May 16, 2012 and did not arrive to Dublin until 7 am in the morning on May 18, 2012 walking the streets with our luggage and no where to stay. I was traumatized the rest of my vacation because of this dishonest, “Ryanair SCAM “Booking Airline”. By the way, that’s what it was called by their own employees. That they are not a real airline but a booking website that rents counter space and old planes that allows them to paint their name on them. Ryanair is a SCAM. I’ve dreamed of going to the UK and Ireland for over thirty years and Ryanair SCAM Booking Website has destroyed my life long dream to travel abroad again. Any free time I have on the internet I will find a way to prevent this from happening to a fellow US Citizen. Ryanair SCAM Airline would never get away with the dishonest manipulating of the internet in the US for very long, they would be exposed and shut down in a flash from word of mouth alone. Therefore, with the world wide web, I will not stop until they are no longer allowed to advertise in the US or on any given internet search here in the USA if the Ryanair name shows up anywhere on the internet here in the USA the word SCAM, AVOID will follow and show up with it. American’s will take the advice from a fellow American. We treat tourist better than any other country, it would be the respectful thing would be to return the courtesy by just being honest, and not trying to scam people out of time, money, and mostly their dream of visiting Europe.

Sandy

Please do not use Ryan Air. I just had the worst experience … I hope nobody has to go through what I just did. I have been traveling for awhile and couldn’t get my boarding pass printed and they charged me 70 Euros to print it at the airport. Their extra weight fees for baggage are also a huge rip-off. Terrible!