I am quite used to long-haul flights, since Cape Town is conveniently situated on the bottom tip of Africa (hah!) and it takes at least 10 hours to get anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere! I’ve already written an article about travel packing hacks, which is more for long-haul flights, so I thought I’d write about my recent experience with RyanAir, one of Europe’s budget airlines.
I’ve heard horror stories about RyanAir – people proclaiming their undying hatred for the airline, stories about rip-offs and insane luggage restrictions and cramped seats. I didn’t really expect much, but I was pleasantly surprised! If you do your research before-hand, adhere to all the rules (since you have chosen to fly with them, it makes little sense to complain about their terms of service), and just accept that you get what you pay for, it’s painless. Cheap flights mean a basic flying experience. For our 1 hour 25 minute flight from Frankfurt to Rome, we didn’t need to use the restroom, or buy the overpriced food (although I decided to have a beer! oops), and the flight was pleasant. The stewards and stewardesses were friendly, the flight was uneventful, and I would certainly use RyanAir again.
For a smooth RyanAir experience, here are some crucial tips:
- Print out your boarding passes! You can also download them and show them at boarding on a smart device (phone, tablet), but I prefer to have the paper in-hand as well, to be safe. If you do not have your boarding passes with you, you will have to pay to have them printed at the check-in desk. The boarding card re-issue fee is €15 per boarding card. The airport check-in fee is €45, so it is ESSENTIAL to check in online, as soon as possible!
- Non-EU citizens (passengers without an EU passport) need to have their Visa check at the check-in desk. Although I have a German residence permit, I still have a South African passport as I am a South African citizen, which requires me to have a Visa check before boarding. So, bear in mind that your passport (EU or Non-EU) is what determines the need for a Visa check, and not whether you hold an EU residence permit or long-term visa.
- Check-in luggage comes at an extra cost. Upon initial check-in, you must select the number of items of check-in luggage, and the weight category of each piece (either 15 kg or 20 kg). Each passenger is allowed 2 pieces of check-in baggage, and you pay a baggage fee for each piece. Online baggage fees are half the price of airport baggage fees, so make sure that you purchase your luggage space online, before you even leave for the airport!
- For each 15 kg piece of luggage, you will pay about €15-25 online (depending on low or high-season, and destination)
- For each 20 kg piece of luggage, you will pay about €25-45 online (depending on low or high-season, and destination)
For detailed information on baggage fees, see the RyanAir website’s fees section!
- Cabin/carry-on luggage regulations are especially strict! According to RyanAir’s website,
One cabin bag weighing up to 10 kg with maximum dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm, plus 1 small bag up to 35 x 20 x 20 cms may be carried per passenger
The maximum dimensions are very important! If you have a hard-frame case, make sure that the dimensions are exact. If you have a backpack, check the dimensions with a measuring tape once all your stuff is packed inside! It doesn’t help if your empty backpack fits the maximum dimensions, but it is massive when full.
If your luggage is deemed to be over the size and weight restrictions, you will be forced to pay airport check-in baggage fees – around €40 per piece! – for your luggage to be carried in the hold. Or you could leave it behind. It may be a pain to pack light, and measure and weigh your luggage, but it makes little sense to pay extra, on a budget airline, because you didn’t bother to adhere to the strict regulations!
- Make your security check simple and painless by being prepared. Have all liquids, creams, and gels in 100ml containers (or less), with no more than 10 containers in a 1 litre clear plastic bag. Last time my face powder container showed up as “suspicious”, so it may be worth adding some cosmetics to the bag too! Remove your jackets, hoodies, boots, and belts, keep your boarding pass and passport safe, and don’t freak out if there are long queues (like the lady who stripped down to her underwear in protest of the delayed security check services in an airport. Traveller FAIL). Don’t be that person.
- Refreshments (including water) are sold to passengers for a slightly inflated fee than airport prices, but on short flights, you don’t really need to eat or drink! You can buy water and snacks at the airport after the security check, so you can avoid spending money when in the air.
Finally, if in doubt, read RyanAir’s extensive Terms and Conditions of Carriage. If you have any additional tips, leave them in the comments section below! 😀