Tips and Tricks for Traveling with Ryanair:
In Europe and across the world, budget airlines are becoming increasingly common, offering many of the comforts of their non-budget competitors. While living in Italy, I have taken full advantage of Europe’s many affordable budget airlines to travel economically all over Europe. Although there are a variety of budget airlines operating throughout the continent (Wizzair, Easy Jet, etc.), Ryanair is my favorite. Why? Ryanair operates more like a regular airline in its amenities, comforts, and options for travel. That being said, like any budget airline, there are specific rules to follow, and it is easy to accrue costs. BUT if you know the tips and tricks of traveling with budget airlines and do a little planning beforehand, your international travel can be very comfortable, hassle free, and enjoyable, while also being incredibly inexpensive. And if you can travel more with less, why not?
General Tips and “Need-to-Knows” for Traveling with Ryanair:
- While Ryanair always offers affordable flights, they have biannual sales through Ryanair.com – usually one for summer and one in the new year. During these times, Ryanair offers flights as low as 1 euro, including all fees.
2. If you are open to traveling to a variety of locations, use Ryanair’s budget tool. Select a departure city and a budget. For example, you may choose to search for flights under 25 euros (there will be LOTS). Ryanair’s budget tool will list out all available destinations within your budget including the months when fares are cheapest.
3. Get a free Ryanair account. You can download their app and carry your reservations and travel plans with you instead of constantly having to visit your e-mail and search for itineraries.
4. Ryanair often operates out of airports that are outside of major city limits. For example, Ryanair flies into a town called Beauvais near Paris. They label this search option as “Paris Beauvais”. This town is actually an hour and a half from Paris. Of course, there are busses or trains that run from these airports, but do your research in advance. Other times, Ryanair uses regular city airports as their hub, like in Barcelona. Always check ahead and decide whether this will impact your trip or not.
5. Yes, Ryanair offers many options for travel, and each comes with a price. This is just a part of budget airlines. You pay more, you get more. That being said, only once have I paid extra to reserve my seat in advance and to check a bag. Ryanair allows regular-sized carryon luggage, something unique in the budget airline world. Other airlines only allow you to carry a bag the size of a small backpack, or they charge you extra for larger items. For short trips with Ryanair, it is quite simple to pack a carry on. You are also allowed another small carry on, like a backpack. Traveling this way incurs no additional cost.
6. You will have the option to pay for a checked bag in advance or at the airport. Typically, it is more expensive to pay for a bag at the airport. It is less expensive to pay for a checked bag online, all the way up until 3 hours before you board. Prices range depending on your destination. You can pay to check either a 15 kilo bag or a 20 kilo bag. They are strict with this, so expect to pay for overage charges.
7. Seat selection: You will pay extra for reserved seats. This may be important if you’re traveling in a large group and want to sit together, or if you’re very uncomfortable sitting anywhere other than a window seat, for example. Usually, though, you do not need to pay extra to get a decent seat. One week prior to your flight, you can check in and Ryanair will assign you (and whoever you are with) with a free seat assignment. And yes – (99% of the time), they will seat you together, so no worries!
8. Print your boarding pass in advance, if applicable. If you are a citizen of the EU, you can present your electronic ticket (via e-mail or app) at security, along with your identification. If you do not hold EU resident status, you will need to print your boarding pass in advance. Also, if you are not an EU resident, you must proceed to Ryanair’s check in counter to have your passport viewed and your paper ticket stamped before proceeding through security.
9. Once you are through security, you will head to your check in gate. Typically, Ryanair will scan your boarding pass, then have you load a bus which will drive you to your plane. On your boarding pass, it says whether to board from the front or the back of the plane. Follow this, as it makes it easier to quickly find your seats and helps to avoid hold ups for everyone!
10. Once you’re on board, you’ll be relieved to see that the rumors are not true. There are not 5 seats on each side of the plane. There are 3 seats per side and the seats are completely normal sized. The only thing that is different (at the time of this post), is that there are not pouches in front of you to hold anything (usually garbage). Get in, get settled, and take a breath, because it will likely be a very comfortable flight with excellent customer service. I have yet to have a bad experience with Ryanair’s wonderful staff.
11. During your flight, the flight crew will come through with drinks, food, duty free, and scratch cards. Yes – scratch cards! Drinks and food are all available for purchase only. The prices are reasonable. Same with the Duty Free. The scratch card profits go towards one of Ryanair’s many supported charities. I have yet to do the scratch cards, but one day maybe I will – what the hell! Why not?
12. Upon landing, you will likely hear an exciting recorded Ryanair message that begins with enthusiastic music. Likely everyone will clap. The message wishes you a great stay and thanks you for being a customer. It also boasts that over 90% of Ryanair’s flights arrive on time. This is true, and this is quite impressive. I have never had a delayed flight with Ryanair (fingers crossed). As a matter of fact, the flights I’m on typically arrive early.
That’s pretty much it! You’re at your destination. You’re ready to explore. You likely had an excellent flight. I hope you have great experiences with Ryanair in the future.
A Quick Recap and Example of a Ryanair Booking and Traveling Experience:
I go to Ryanair’s website, using their budgeting tool, and I look at my least expensive options for travel. I see that a round trip flight to Copenhagen from Milano Bergamo is 30 euros. I’m excited about this. I logon to my Ryanair account and go ahead with my booking. I decide to just book the flight because I know I don’t need to check a bag and I don’t need to reserve my seats in advance. SCORE! 30 euros and I will be checking out a new country that’s way too far to comfortably drive to!
It’s a month later and it’s time to travel. The night before, I printed off my boarding passes. I probably could have done this and checked in 6 days earlier to ensure a better seat, but this time I’m just traveling alone and I really don’t care where I sit! I head to the airport and go straight to the Ryanair check in counter for visa check. They look at my passport and my printed boarding pass, stamp my boarding pass, and tell me I’m good to go to security. Security is normal – just like any time I fly.
I head to my gate and boarding starts about 35 minutes before our departure time. After riding the bus to the plane, I board through the back of the plane because I’m in row 24 and my boarding pass indicated I should board through the back. I put my luggage overhead and have a seat. The plane fills up, and we depart right on time! Of course, we were greeted by the friendly Ryanair staff while boarding and by the captain once we were ready to depart.
Throughout the flight, I’m able to purchase drinks, food, duty free, and scratch cards. That’s all great, but I’m well fed and I have water. I sit in my seat, read, play some bejeweled, and write this blog post.
Just a short while later, I hear the announcement that we’re getting ready to land in Copenhagen. This is exciting! I’ve never been here before. We land, on time, no issues. I get to explore a new country, and since I planned ahead a little bit, my total travel cost was 30 euros. 30 euros!!!
On a side note, I’ve also paid 18 euros for round trip flights to Paris, 40 to London, 30 to Barcelona – and so on. You get the idea! Now, use these tips, do just a little bit of planning beforehand, and get ready for your next adventure in Europe!!