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TPG reader Clayton tweeted me to ask about flying on Ryanair:
@thepointsguy – “I’m thinking of flying Ryanair within Europe this summer and was wondering if it’s worth it despite all the bad things I’ve read?”
2015 is poised to be the summer of Europe. With the euro trading relatively close to the dollar and new low-cost carriers like Norweigan Air and WOW Air flying to Europe cheaply. La Compagnie is even offering fairly inexpensive service in business class; it’s the perfect time to plan a trip.
But what about travel within Europe once you’ve arrived? Is Ryanair worth it?
I’ll preface my answer by saying this: I personally do not like Ryanair. I’ve been burned in the past during a trip to Scotland, when I had to pay more than the cost of my ticket to print a boarding pass at the airport. However, I should have known the rules, and if I had printed my boarding pass ahead of time instead of procrastinating, it would have worked out.
That being said, if it’s a short trip, you’ll survive. Just as we maximize our points and miles on other airlines, with Ryanair it’s all about maximizing and knowing the rules. Ryanair certainly isn’t famous for comfort or customer service, but if you can get a great price, then you should take advantage of it. I know several people who have mastered the system and happily fly Ryanair all the time. Check out Lori Zaino’s post on Top 10 Ways to Survive a Ryanair Flight, but in the meantime, here are a few key tips:
- Print out your boarding pass ahead of time.
- Make sure to measure your suitcase or prepare to pay (Ryanair’s acceptable size for carry-on baggage is 55 x 40 x 20 cm (21.7 x 15.7 x 7.9 in).
- Pay for your checked luggage online.
- Make sure to get your stamp before you board (if you’re not a resident of the EU).
- Be prepared for little space:
Seat Width: 17 inches (43.18cm)
Seat Pitch: 30 inches (76.20cm)
Another thing to be aware of is that Ryanair uses a lot of airports that might not be where you think they are. Examples include the Girona airport (GRO) outside of Barcelona and the Bergamo airport (BGY) outside of Milan, which are both about an hour from their respective cities. In fact, my first Ryanair experience as an impressionable college sophomore was to Paris, but it wasn’t to CDG or ORY. Instead, we landed in the tent in the woods known as Paris Beauvais (BVA), where I had to purchase an hour-and-a-half cramped bus ride into Paris proper.
Ryanair isn’t the best of airlines, but it can make sense in a pinch if you do your homework and know the rules. You might also try other low-cost carriers like Easy Jet, which won’t break your bank, but still seem infinitely better than Ryanair.
For more info, check out this detailed list of low-cost carriers in Europe and their rules.
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