If you've searched for flights between European cities, you've definitely been offered a Ryanair flight. You may have marveled at the fact that it's as cheap as the MegaBus in the US. Really? $26 to fly between Paris and Rome? Yes!
Why is Ryanair so cheap? A few reasons. They tend to fly to smaller airports with lower landing fees. They pay low wages, outsource a lot of functions, and have a reputation for sneaking in sudden fees for customers who aren't paying attention. Your Ryanair flight cost can quickly double if you want the privilege of picking a seat, boarding early, or checking a bag. If you are traveling light and don't care about where you sit, Ryanair might be a good option for you.
Here are our top 5 tips to surviving your first Ryanair flight:
1. Be Short
The pitch length on Ryanair is definitely the shortest or close to the shortest of any airline. If you have long legs, you're going to be in for a cramped ride. The seats don't even recline.
My friend and I are both pretty short (5'2" and 5'5" so this is less of an issue for us). You can see my friend in the foreground of this picture, plenty of room for his knees. Check out the dude behind him though - ouch!
2. Know the Baggage Rules
What you CAN bring on board:
1 bag which is 55cm x 40cm x 20cm in size and must not exceed 10kg in weight. This bag must also fit in the sizer and should easily fit in the overhead locker.
1 small bag e.g. handbag, laptop bag etc. must not exceed 35cm x 20cm x 20cm and should easily fit under the seat in front of you
But also know that they're not looking as closely as some other airlines.
Your standard American wheelie may be too big to be a carry on on RyanAir. Check its measurements by googling the name of the bag. You know those boxes you've seen in US Airports:
We did see folks with oversized bags get pulled aside.
Your standard American second bag (a purse, computer bag) must actually be that. It can't be a huge stuffed backpack.
We never had our baggage weighed. I was worried that my baggage would be overweight (so I bought a 15 kg spot in the hold) but the bag check line was long so we decided to just go through security. No one ever weighed our bag. But halfway through the security line, I broke into a cold sweat because I forgot........
3. ....That Freakin Stamp
If you're a non-EU passport holder, you must have a stamp that you get before you go through security. Yes, even if you don't check bags. We were dumb and forgot and just went through security. I proceeded to sweat out the next 45 minutes wondering if they wouldn't let us board. I read horror stories on TripAdvisor about people who were denied boarding because they didn't get the stamp. I though, 'This is it. I didn't read ALL the Ryanair fine print.' I handed over my boarding pass to board.
The moment of truth.
He saw that it wasn't stamped, pulled out the stamp and stamped it. My friend got a sterner talking to "do this before security next time." But we made it on board!
Summary: don't be idiots like us. Get your stamp stamped before security at the Ryanair desk.
4. Print Your Boarding Pass Ahead of Time
Or be prepared to pay 70 Euro to print it at the airport. Yes, you read that right.
5. Look Up The Airport!
Part of the reason Ryanair is cheap is that they often fly into smaller airports. For example, although BVA Airport is technically a Paris airport, it is 2 hours from Paris. Make sure you're ok with that before booking, and make appropriate plans to get to your destination. We had no issues getting from these smaller airports into the city - the airport website often has a list of suggested methods for transit (bus, train, cab).
The Bottom Line
Read the fine print - Ryanair has some sneaky fees but you can avoid them if you read the details, plan, and pack light. Also, be prepared to be uncomfortable during the flight - but it's well worth it since you're flying between European cities for $10-$30!