What You Need to Know Flying Ryanair

Disclaimer: this post is some general advice about flying Ryanair. This post won’t have every rule and regulation that Ryanair has. I don’t work for Ryanair, or any airline, and was not approached to write this post. If you have an issue with Ryanair, please contact them, not me. I can’t help you with personal queries or problems with Ryanair. The information on this post is accurate its publication date in September 2017. Ryanair can change their information/policy/procedures at any time. I may try to update this post if that happens, but I can’t make any guarantee to do so.

No other airline seems to elicit such awe and hatred as Ryanair. Awe because they can have some pretty low airfare. I once saw a €7 Euro one-way fare from London to Gdansk Poland. Hatred because they have a lot of little rules you have to follow. If not your “cheap flight” will cost a lot more than you anticipated. I’ve flown with them a few times in the past months. Here is what you need to know if you want to travel with Ryanair.

Where Ryanair Goes

Most of Ryanair’s destinations are in Europe. They do have some flights outside Europe that are code shared with Air Europa. One reason why they are so cheap is that in many cities they fly into a smaller secondary airport. Taking Ryanair to Berlin, Germany you won’t land at Berlin Tegel Airport. Instead, you’ll land at Berlin Schönefeld Airport. The airports could be far from the city adding to ground transportation costs.

Searching for a Flight

I compare flights on Ryanair with a search on Skyscanner or Google flights. Depending on where you are there might be a cheaper flight on another airline. The cheapest flights, from what I’ve found, are often in the early morning or late at night. From looking at flights I’ve noticed booking about two months in advance gets you the best deal. If you want travel during peak travel season (Christmas/New Year’s) you may want to book a little early.

Flying Ryanair to Bristol when I went to Bath.

My first Ryanair flight was to Bristol, UK when I spent a few days in Bath. This picture is of Pulteney Bridge in Bath. It’s a covered bridge with shops and is pretty nice.

Booking a Flight

When you find a flight on Ryanair, it includes your ticket and a small cabin bag (35cm x 20cm x 20cm). Your ticket does not include

  • Any checked bags. Ryanair is strict with their cabin bag policy (the size and the amount of bags you can take). If your cabin bag is too big, you may have to pay extra to check it at the airport. Sharon from Simpler and Smarter found this out the hard way when she was charged to check in a bag that was just one inch too long.
  • A particular seat. If you want to pick your seat that costs from €2 to €15 Euros. If you don’t want to pay extra they  will assign you a random seat.

  • Any food or drink on the plane (including water). That costs extra.

When purchasing your ticket, Ryanair will try to sell you on things like

  • Upgrading from the cheap Base Fare to their Plus or Flexi Plus Fare. These are more expensive but include things like checked bags and priority boarding. If you are traveling with your family, there is a Family Plus Fare you can upgrade to as well.

  • Security fast track, which they say let’s you fast track through security.

  • Priority boarding, which lets you be among the first passengers to board the flight. It also let’s you take all your cabin bags on board without gate checking. More about that in a bit.

  • Purchasing checked luggage. This cost varies from €15 to €50 depending on your luggage (like whether it’s a suitcase or set of golf clubs).

  • Insurance.

  • In-flight Meals.

  • Accommodation.

  • Rental vehicles.

  • Airport parking or airport transfers (if you aren’t driving).

I travel with just a cabin bag (or carry-on bag) and my purse. I get to the airport early, so I don’t need security pass. I travel alone, and if the flight is under 2 hours, I don’t care where I sit. If it’s longer than 2 hours, I’ll pay a little extra to get an aisle seat. I already have travel insurance from Canada.
If you want to buy any of these extras, like say you do need to check a bag, it’s better to do this when purchasing your ticket. The closer to your flight you wait to buy these the more the price increases.

Baggage Limits and Priority Boarding

Since Ryanair is cheap, it’s a pretty popular airline, and flights are usually sold out. Ryanair doesn’t oversell or overbook their flights like some airlines. It’s rare that Ryanair asks passengers to volunteer to give up their seat for a later flight. It could happen though.

One thing about being a popular airline is that Ryanair often exceeds their cabin bag limit for flights. They say they only have space for 90 cabin bags in the overhead bins. There is no boarding section aside from priority (if you’ve paid for it) and general boarding. If you’re in the general boarding queue and you have bag 91 it could be gate checked (depending on the size of the bag). In this case, if you have a roller suitcase there’s a higher chance of it being gate checked. If you have a smaller soft bag, then you may be able to carry it with you. If you buy the priority boarding, then you can board the plane first. Priority boarding makes it unlikely you won’t have to gate check any bags.

Ryainair is also changing their cabin bag rules in November. If you have a cabin bag like a wheelie suitcase that’s no bigger than 55cm x 40cm x 20cm in size and no more 10kg you’ll have to purchase priority boarding to take it on board. If not it’ll be gate checked. Your smaller bag, like a purse or laptop bag, you can still take on board.

Some More Random Ryanair Rules

Ryanair has a lot of little rules when you’re looking at a flight and booking a ticket. I already mentioned some of the extra costs, but there are a few more.
  • Paying with a credit card or through PayPal will cost you a fee. There is no charge if you book for a debit card.

  • Non-European citizen needs to have a have a printed boarding pass to get stamped by Ryanair. Before you go to security you need to go to the Ryanair check-in desk. There’s a queue marked visa check. An agent will check to make sure your passport is valid for travel. Then they stamp your boarding pass. I have to do this for every Ryanair flight (cause I’m from Canada). Another reason to get to the airport early.

  • If you decide to buy a seat, you can check into your flight 60 days in advance. If you get Ryanair to pick a seat for you, then you can check in for your flight between 3 days and 2 hours beforehand.

The biggest thing to take away is always to read the fine print when you book a Ryanair flight. If you have a question or concern, it’s best to contact someone at Ryanair in advance.

At The Airport

I have found Ryanair flights are often at the furthest gates from security. Give yourself plenty of time to get through security and check your boarding gate. Don’t arrive at the airport 10 minutes before boarding.

Ryanair does not have a business or first class. They do have the priority boarding that you can buy. Priority boarding only means you get to board the plane first. Unlike other airlines, there is no section for boarding. You’re either in the priority queue or the general queue.

Ryanair planes (the ones I’ve seen) are boarded from the outside by going up a set of stairs. That means you have to walk outside on the airport tarmac. At some airports, there may be a shuttle to take you to the plane. Be prepared to be outside for a few minutes. On your boarding pass, it will say front or back. That’s because the aircraft has a front entrance and a back entrance. If your boarding pass says back, then you board at the back.

On The Plane

My first Ryanair flight when I walked on board I remember thinking, “this is like a bus.” The blue and bright yellow that Ryanair uses that reminded me of being on the bus. Also, there are ads all over the plane. Yes, on the outside of the overhead storage bins are advertisements. There are also advertisements on the back of each seat.

Seats on a Ryanair plane.

The seats are not the most comfortable, but they’re okay for a couple of hours. Since it’s a budget airline, the seats don’t recline. There are no seat pockets. Where is the safety instruction card? They have it printed as a sticker on the back of each seat, under an advertisement of course.

The ads don’t stop there. When you first get on the aircraft, there are advertisements over the speaker system. Ryanair flight attendants also make ad announcements throughout the flight. They advertise for buying meals, duty-free items, and scratch cards. Yes, Ryanair sells lottery tickets on their flights. The proceeds go to a charity. Your odds of winning on their scratch ticket is minuscule. If you want to support Ryanair’s charity partners you’d be better off making a direct donation.

As well Ryanair does not have any in-flight entertainment. There are no televisions, no WiFi, and no power outlets. The only magazine they have is the duty-free magazine. That said be sure to bring something to do on your flight. Be sure to fully charge any electronics you want to take with you on the flight.

My Experience

I haven’t had any major issues with Ryanair. I flew with them to Bristol (when I went to Bath), London, Brussels, and Edinburgh. I’ll be traveling with Ryanair to Berlin next month. Some people have had less than ideal experiences with Ryanair, but for me, they have been fine. Right now they have had to cancel some flights (til the end of October). They say this is due to factors like changes in staff rosters, and air traffic control strikes. That’s a pretty shit deal for those passengers affected. Ryanair does claim they’ll refund or rebook these canceled flights for free. I’ve checked, and my flights to and from Berlin seem to be okay. 

Ryanair doesn’t spend a lot of time on customer service, or extras like some other airlines do. If you want something from them, you’ll likely have to pay extra. It’s best to look at Ryanair like a bus in the sky. It’s a cheap way to get from point A to point B. Don’t expect much more than that.

Things You Should Know

I don’t work for nor am I associated with any airline. Please contact your airline or travel agent directly if you have any concerns about your flight.

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Have you flown on Ryanair? What was your experience like? Leave a comment below.

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15 Responses to What You Need to Know Flying Ryanair

  1. Carolina Colborn September 23, 2017 at 2:31 PM #

    I have used RyanAir and EasyJet for European travel. If you travel light with 1 small carry-on and a purse, then this budget airline is the best!

    • Alouise September 25, 2017 at 9:35 PM #

      I haven’t had a chance to use Easy Jet, but I’d assume they have rules similar to Ryanair. And you’re right, if you can travel light with just a carry-on they’re a great option. Thanks for the comment Carolina.

  2. Ryan Biddulph September 23, 2017 at 3:02 PM #

    Hi Alouise,

    This is usually the experience with budget airlines.

    We pay a minimum to get from Point A to Point B.

    All the heavy emphasis on service, comfort and fine-looking cabins is in first class, or on Singapore Airlines, or some Middle Eastern numbers too.

    I recall flying a few Middle Eastern airlines over the years. Amazing experiences, even coach.

    As for the budget airlines like Air Asia, no complaints. Get ya from Point A to Point B. Although I suspect due to some decent turbulence I experience on these flights, they may be flying through rougher spots versus around ’em to save gas 😉

    Thanks for sharing.


    • Alouise September 25, 2017 at 9:38 PM #

      I haven’t flown any budget airlines in Asia or the Middle East, but it’s great to have options. And I never really thought about turbulence being due to the fact they’re flying over rougher spots to save gas. As long as they get from point A to B safely I’ll keep using them when I can. Thanks for the comment Ryan.

  3. Brianna September 23, 2017 at 8:46 PM #

    Great things to be aware of when using Ryanair. I wonder why the surcharge to use a credit card?

    • Alouise September 25, 2017 at 9:39 PM #

      It does seem silly to charge for using a credit card, but I think it’s just a way Ryanair can charge people a little (about 50cents per booking). Thanks for the comment Brianna.

  4. knycx.journeying September 24, 2017 at 12:36 PM #

    Thanks and actually many budget airlines in America and Asia adapted the same business model. It depends on the price of the tickets but I have no problem to give up a few standards here and there for short haul flights. Punctuality and Safty are the most important. 😊 @ knycx.journeying

    • Alouise September 24, 2017 at 1:19 PM #

      Thanks for the comment. It’s great to learn about some budget airlines in Asia too. I’ll have to make a note of those two airlines.

  5. Debra Schroeder September 24, 2017 at 11:55 PM #

    This is a great overview on Ryanair. I haven’t flown them yet. I’m all for cheap flights but as you mentioned, sometimes a cheap flight will cost you more.

    • Alouise September 25, 2017 at 9:40 PM #

      Thanks for the comment Debra. That extra cost is always something you got to think about when booking. If you can fly carry-on only then Ryanair can be a great option.

  6. CHLOE LIN September 25, 2017 at 8:55 AM #

    Good to know that Ryanair has good deals like $7 once in a while. I will definitely check it out should I visit Europe. I guess budget airline always have a lot of rules so that they can charge extra should you break the rules. ;p

    • Alouise September 25, 2017 at 9:41 PM #

      Yes those budget airlines will definitely try to charge you more if you’re not careful. Wish I could say I’ve booked a $7 flight, but haven’t gotten anything quite that cheap yet. Hopefully soon. Thanks for the comment Chloe.

  7. Elaine J Masters September 25, 2017 at 8:13 PM #

    Talk about nickel and diming! I knew that was the case but even the fact that the Ryan air gates are furthest from security is beyond budget. Thanks for the details. Know before you go!

    • Alouise September 25, 2017 at 10:11 PM #

      Ryanair gates being the furthest could just be my experience, but I have a feeling it’s probably like that at other airports too. Everything has a cost, if it’s not money then it’s time so I make sure to get to the airport early. Thank for the comment Elaine.

  8. Michele {Malaysian Meanders} September 29, 2017 at 2:19 AM #

    I read today that Ryanair has cancelled even more flights. I’ve never flown on them, but your description reminds me of the budget airline, Air Asia. I’ve never been on a plane with that much advertising. I’m curious what types of companies where doing it. And thanks for the tip about non-Europeans needing to get a stamped, printed boarding pass. It might not have occurred to me.

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