Considering taking a cheap Ryanair flight? Here is what you need to make your Ryanair flight more comfortable.
Contrary to what some might tell you, it absolutely is possible to have an insanely cheap AND enjoyable Ryanair flight. After flying dozens of times with the airline I’ve put together this guide on getting the most from your Ryanair experience.
1. Watch for sales and book in advance
Booking at least two weeks ahead of your departure tends to ensure a much better price for Ryanair tickets. And while Ryanair is already known for cheap fares (and bad service) it is possible to (sometimes) save even more money if you catch a good sale. The budget airline is known to even sell ‘free’ flights on occasion (you only pay the airport taxes). But Ryanair is more regularly running modest sales for all kinds of routes – if your travel dates are flexible you’ll have more luck in scoring one of these reduced-price tickets.
To automatically stay in the loop on these sales, follow Ryanair on Twitter (https://twitter.com/Ryanair) or sign up for their email newsletter (http://www.ryanair.com/en/about/register-for-offers).
2. Be sure to print your boarding pass before heading to the airport.
Unlike other airlines, Ryanair requires you to check-in online and print your boarding pass before you reach the airport. Forgetting this important step can cost you $50 or more, as Ryanair has zero tolerance for passengers that show up at the check-in counter without their documents in hand.
3. Check your departure & arrival airports
Searching through Ryanair destinations, you’ll notice that this airline often uses smaller, less-popular airports that can be hours away from the city you want to visit. For example the “Paris Beauvais” airport is almost 60 miles from the city center, and “Stockholm Skavsta Airport” is even slightly further. When calculating if a Ryanair ticket will actually save you money, don’t forget to add in the extra cost of getting to some distant airport for your flight.
If you scored a great deal on a Ryanair flight departing from London Stanstead airport, don’t be surprised when simply getting to this remote departure airport from central London costs nearly as much as (or more than) your cheap flight.
4. Buy trip insurance (but not from Ryanair)
This is particularly true if you are taking a Ryanair flight and connecting shortly after to a flight on a different airline. Try Squaremouth.com for a good selection of budget travel insurance plans. Without travel insurance, any delay in the Ryanair schedule could mean loosing your seat on the connecting flight. After several times when travel insurance really came in handy, I buy travel insurance from Squaremouth.com every time I leave the country.
Plus considering that Ryanair customer service leaves a lot to be desired, the airline tends to do a bad job of taking care of passengers if you are to get stranded.
5. Don’t go for the upsells!
Ryanair really wants your hard-earned cash. While the ticket prices are cheap, any conceivable add-on will cost you. However I’ve flown Ryanair dozens of times and never had to pay an extra cent and there’s no reason you can’t do the same! During the booking process on Ryanair.com you’ll be electronically harangued into buying various add-on services: all of which can be ignored by most travelers.
a. Don’t pay for assigned seats
Ryanair recently ditched their old ‘city bus’ style of seat allocation and started assigning passengers seats at check-in. Ryanair flights are short, and none of the seats are particularly comfy, so don’t get caught up with where on the airplane you’re seated.
b. Don’t buy Ryanair’s travel insurance
You can get much better travel insurance that really fits your needs, at a better price from Squaremouth.com. I always buy travel insurance through SquareMouth because they have a great tool to compare plans from different companies, their service is great and the prices are good. I’ve found that having travel insurance is super helpful in those cases where flights get cancelled, missed connections, etc.
c. Don’t pay for an ‘SMS Confirmation’
This is probably the most useless of all Ryanair upsells. You’ll need to check in for your Ryanair flight and print your boarding pass before you leave for the airport anyway, so I’m not sure how a text message from Ryanair would help anything. Make sure to skip this useless add-on.
d. Don’t Pre-Book Your Airport Transfer On Ryanair.com
Ryanair usually charges just slightly more than the normal retail rates for pre-booked airport transfers. While this isn’t a total rip-off, it’s generally not worth it. Most airports are full of bus companies, trains, taxi drivers etc. all competing for your business. Head to the airport’s tourist information desk when you land and get the low-down on the cheapest/best way to get where you’re going. Chances are you’ll get the best price this way.
e. Only pay extra for luggage you’re SURE you’ll need
Like most cheap airlines, Ryanair uses all kinds of scare tactics to get you to pre-book checked bags. However I pack lite and I’ve never paid to check a bag on Ryanair (See my post here on how to avoid checking bags). Ryanair.com makes it seem that if your carry-on bag is one inch too large, you’ll be stuck with a huge oversize baggage fine at the boarding gate. In reality the rules aren’t strictly enforced (although Ryanair is known for being more particular than other budget airlines).
6. Bring snacks for the ride!
Ryanair gives away precisely nothing for free. Food and beverages (including water) are only available for purchase (cash only) on your Ryanair flight. Be sure to buy some snacks before boarding your flight (ideally before heading to the airport) and grab plenty of water while in the airport waiting for your departure. This will save you some money and make sure you don’t go hungry while in the air.
7. Re-check your bags on connecting Ryanair flights
Let’s say you pieced together a Ryanair itinerary to get you from Budapest to London and then from London to Dublin a couple hours later. Be warned that when you arrive in London to catch your connecting flight on to Ireland, you’ll actually need to pickup your checked bag from the baggage claim, and check it in again for your next flight. Be sure to allow plenty of time to claim your luggage and check in again during your connection, as you certainly aren’t the only one going from London to Dublin today.
8. Know your rights.
Booking your ticket directly on Ryanair.com now gets you a few privileges that even non-budget airlines sometimes won’t allow. Within 24 hours of purchasing a ticket on Ryanair.com, you can now make “minor” corrections to your booking, such as correcting passenger names, spellings and routings. Given the non-specifics available from Ryanair regarding this new policy, I suggest contacting the airline about any changes with a polite but determined attitude.
9. Need some extra sanity? Book a ‘Quiet Flight’.
All Ryanair flights that operate before 8am and after 9pm local time are now considered ‘quiet flights’. Your fellow passengers may or may not be on board with the whole ‘quiet’ concept, but at least the airline pledges to dim the cabin lights and keep PA announcements to a bare minimum.