I flew Ryanair, and I liked it!


People love to hate on Ryanair. And I suppose there are plenty of reasons to do so. The flights aren’t elegant and the experience is far from luxury. But there is something to be said for cheap, on-time and delivering exactly what was advertised. And in my case that’s precisely what I got.

I mentioned the trip in a post in December and got a lot of good advice from readers. My trip was in January and, as promised, here’s the trip report.

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The flight was from Budapest to Billund, Denmark. I was chasing down fun lines and new (to me) plane types as part of a long weekend trip which also involved plenty of beer and a few countries along the way. And the Ryanair flight not only was perfectly timed, it also was very reasonably priced.

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Yes, there was a bit of a scrum at boarding. I avoided that by spending most of the hour prior to the flight in the SkyPort lounge at the Budapest airport thank to a Priority Pass membership. And even had I not been in the lounge the Budapest airport is actually pretty nice. I had an assigned seat so no need to wait in line with everyone else to get on board first.

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And, yes, there were strict rules about carry-on baggage. I saw a few people get busted for bags too large and they had to pay. That sucks, I suppose, though it isn’t like the rules aren’t quite clear and repeatedly sent to travelers in emails (I got 3 or 4).

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And once on board it wasn’t particularly special either. Yes, I paid the extra $10 for an exit row seat. That got me a lot of space, way more than the regular seats. I likely would be singing a different tune were I in the regular seats. You can quite readily see the difference below.

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But, at the end of the day, it was cheap and the flight was on time. I wasn’t expecting anything resembling service on board and that’s precisely what I received. In some ways it is silly that just meeting those expectations makes it a great flight. And there are plenty of other flights I’ve taken which similarly met expectations. But this one really was great, one of my best flights in Europe this year.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

27 Comments

  1. YCMV – Your Comfort May Vary…

    YTMV – Your Tolerance May Vary…

  2. Our biggest thing against Ryanair was we had a flight canceled due to weather and they didn’t reschedule another flight. They refunded our money but then we were stuck in Germany and we needed to get Sweden. They ended up chartering a bus… and the cost of that was twice the amount that our flight originally cost. We got there about 24 hours after we originally were supposed to arrive. I won’t say I would never fly on them again; but that experience made us eager to avoid Ryanair if we possibly can.

  3. They serve a purpose…even if that is just keeping the riff-raff off legacy carriers. Ultimately i think anything that allows people to travel more and see the world is good for society

  4. I’d be willing to give them a try, and not just because of the name 🙂 Like you said, you know what you’re getting into and get what you pay for. As for service, well I’m sure it’s not much worse, if at all, than what I experience all the time on domestic US airlines.

    1. They serve nothing on board that you don’t pay for and that’s just fine. It was a short-haul flight intra-Europe and 25% the price of the alternatives. And no one else is serving either of those drink options in those markets, either.

      People love to be snarky and suggest that the experience is somehow so much worse than alternatives. The reality – at least in my experience – is that they are just as likely to get you where you’re supposed to be as the other airlines. And the fare can be quite a bit less.

  5. My knees were perfectly happy. Did you not read the part where I explained that I actually had more legroom than I would have had on the other European carriers thanks to paying the $10-15 for the exit row?

  6. Just like when I fly in a premium cabin when everyone else is in coach on a legacy carrier. You can either put yourself in the comfortable position or you can buy the cheapest flight possible and suffer the consequences of that purchase.

    My main point is that it can be quite reasonable to get a cheap fare on a convenient flight and to travel in reasonable comfort. Yes, you have to pay attention to the rules. But if you do that it can be quite reasonable.

    But keep up the hate; it is always fun to read.

  7. I dont like that airline. I prefer Easyjet or Vueling, granted, Billund is an odd destination in Denmark so Ryanair would do. Having said that, it is not that far from CPH by train and I love Denmark so much that I dont mind the 3 hours train ride which connect thru Odense.

  8. It’s not “hate” it’s fact, for anyone whose femur length is above the ergonomic norm, and who values not having to sit bolt upright for X hours wedged in a substandard seat without arm rests. Same on Allegiant, even worse on Spirit. Please have these all to yourself!

  9. I don’t have a problem with RA trying to keep it cheap and with no frills. If there’s a market and people buy it, fine. My main gripe with them is that the luggage cage that they use is deceptively small. I’ve used the same carry-on suitcase for years and it’s fit on every overhead bin on every plane that I’ve ever flown. It didn’t on this one. Had to push it through to barely make it fit, only to get on the plane and see that I had about 4-5 vertical inches of additional space, no problem. To purposely design a smaller cage and then try to hit people with up to 70 Euros while you’re already at the airport is shameful and I refuse to give them my money.

  10. Show me any airline with a rule of “if it fits in the overhead bin” and I’ll maybe have a bit of sympathy. The reality is that they all have rules about what is acceptable and those rules are published. In the case of Ryanair they are also emailed to every customer multiple times with explicit warnings as to the cost of violating them. If you get caught paying at the gate that means you chose to ignore the multiple warnings you received. I have very little sympathy for you there. TPG posted a rant earlier this year about how he got “screwed” by the carrier when the reality is he simply didn’t read the multiple emails they sent him.

    As for the continued legroom complaints, I’ve don’t Spirit, too (no opportunity for Allegiant yet) and it is tight way in the back. That’s what you’re paying for. If you want more space it is just a small charge away. Just like on every legacy carrier.

    They aren’t that different.

  11. I am surprised you are plugging such a pathetic excuse for an airline. Do you know that if you fail to print your boarding pass less than 4 hours before departure time they snag you 70 Euro??? I never had an airline texperience as poor as Ryanair. I will gladly fly Vueling and if necessary, EasyJet. I refuse to fly Ryanair.. They have dubious business practices and the whole experience is like flying in a tatty pub filled with soccer hooligans.

  12. Yes, I am quite familiar with the policy whereby they charge you if you don’t have your BP printed when you get to the airport. And I have absolutely no problem with that. Just like I have no problem with them enforcing the cabin baggage rules or any of the other rules they publish. That is, for me, a very fair trade to be able to fly quite cheap.

  13. All four big front seats… Can you admit you are an apologist?

  14. What won’t you do to apologize for these excuses for “service”?

  15. Apologist for whom?

    Not everyone gets the big seats; that’s true. And that’s the same on just about every plane flying today (save the BA 318s JFK-LCY, PD’s Q4s and maybe one or two others where the pitch is universal and generous). If you don’t want to pay for the extra pitch or an assigned seat you’re welcome to join the boarding scrum and wedge yourself in. I stated that quite clearly in the original post.

    But you don’t have to if you don’t want to and the price to avoid such is quite reasonable, less than what it would cost on a legacy carrier by far. In my case the flight – including the exit row seat – cost ~25% of what any other airline was offering, and none of them had a non-stop.

    I’m sure the train option from CPH would have been fine except that I didn’t have time and it would have added more to the expense.

  16. I have no idea why anyone going to Jutland would want to go via CPH and continue by train if they can go straight to an airport in Jutland (AAL,AAR, or BIL just to name few).

    I had a bit of a laugh reading the comments of TPG’s Ryan Air experience, but there is one thing I don’t understand. People seem to think that checking passenger in and printing boarding passes in the airport is cheap for FR. Perhaps printing one boarding pass is fairly cheap, but I am sure FR pays for every little bit of ground handling they receive. Hence by making check-in in airports an exceptional event, they probably cut down their expenses by good amount; and we all know what exceptional events cost. In other words, I am sure printing a boarding pass is cheap if you are printing boarding passes all day long, but if you are only printing one pass…. or if you get cheaper passenger handling because you expect they don’t need boarding passes.

  17. I fly Ryan Air a lot, this year about 29 trips. I have flow them for many years. I also have high status with legacy carriers, currently 2 major alliances. I am not a petty Ryan Air hater but I am sorry to say your have become an Apologist for them. I understand what I get and I am realistic. Because I fly more I may get better treatment from staff (sometimes) but this is due to individual circumstances that I will not discuss nor my routes. However, harbor no illusions this company is possessed of a spirit of selfishness and pettiness that one rarely sees in large organizations and few in the customer service business. I have seen and knew of staff fired for catering to customers. I have seen staff at airports encouraged to try to increase baggage fees at gate through over zealous use of sizer. (Some gate agents, mostly outsourced contractors, hate this.) Ryan Air engages in overt and covert discrimination towards disabled people as they require more expensive “handling.” They have been conducted less of this in the last few years, and yet it still goes on. I know of cases where upper level management staff is homophobic and curtails the advancement of LGBT employees, especially male employees they find too effeminate. They engage in overt and subtle manipulation of pass taxes and fees and continue to attempt to do so dispute several warnings and sanctions from EU. The “3 or 4” emails you received were the result of years of sanctions by the EU over deceptive practices, please do not forget to include this important bit of information.
    Lately they have been allegedly experimenting with creating boarding pass issues that increase phone calls (and hence phone revenue) and potential boarding pass printing issues at check-in among inexperience Ryan Air flyers. Other frequent Ryan Air flyers have noted this issue. Make no mistake, and harbor no illusions this company is EVIL towards its employees and customers. If Ryan Air had US assets and was subject to US law, I would and could litigate many of these issues. If Ryan Air disagrees with holding I would welcome the opportunity to submit their practices to US style discovery. The lottery tickets sold on board are perhaps one of the foremost secretive practices seemly designed to scam their customers.
    I use them a lot and they get me, close to, where I want to be. I like many of their front line employees, but I harbor no illusions over the intentions and motivations of management to allegedly run the airline as close to criminal enterprise as they can get away with.

    1. I’m an apologist because I had a reasonable experience and know how to read an email? GMAFB. And I’m not writing about the Ryanair of 10 years ago which caused the EU to act; I’m writing about my experience in 2013.

      I wish more airlines would enforce cabin baggage size rules. In the end that would be better for all customers, speeding the process.

      And if you have proof that they’re actually screwing over customers or employees than please feel free to share it. As it stands this comment is borderline libelous.

  18. The last time (and I mean the last time) was from Frankfurt to London. Departure time came and went; no airplane. Also no Ryanair staff anywhere. Eventually, passengers found out from calling their families in the UK that the flight had been cancelled. But still no Ryanair staff and no news in Frankfurt. After hours and a near riot by passengers, we were allowed to retrieve luggage and make other arrangements (which I did on BA). Saving a little money isn’t worth it when you encounter a problem like this.

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