I have read a lot of attacks on Ryanair – the European budget airline – in my time. Most recently this one from Eurotriptips, which pretty much sums up all the reasons people hate the company, believing it to be a money greedy, holiday ruiner with no concern for what we call human rights. And I mostly agree with them … mostly.
Firstly, yes Ryanair is money greedy, what company isn’t there to make money. If you are running a company and you are NOT turning a profit, well you’re running a pretty crummy company. And yes if passengers don’t follow the rules, if they don’t check their bag size or print off their boarding pass or get their visa stamped, then yes they run the risk of missing their flight and ruining their holiday.
I have flown with Ryanair almost 50 times and consider myself something of an expert, and here’s the low down.
Problem #1: The annoying website and those irritating fees
Is the Ryanair website annoying? Yes it is, undeniably so. But up until October this year Ryanair put their prices all up front. When they say £3 each way they mean it (as my mum did when she visited me Stansted – Frankfurt £6 return all fees included). Now they charge a £6 card fee, a fee that beloved Easyjet has always charged. Yes they do have pages and pages asking you if you would like insurance or baggage, but all you have to do is click no, no, no and they all go away. We’ve already established that they are trying to make a quick buck. All in all the booking process normally takes around 20 minutes, no longer than any other airlines.
Problem #2: Being charged 50€ at the airport and missing your flight
You have to print your boarding pass and bring it to the airport. Annoying? Yes. Unreasonable? No. When you book your flight online you are told to remember to check in and print your boarding pass before leaving. Then before you fly you receive 2 further angry looking reminder emails with bold, capital letters reminding you of your duty. After all that, if you still forget to print it off, well that I think is unreasonable.
As for the bags, yes I have seen women screaming at the airport, no, they didn’t follow the rules. Like the boarding pass forgetters, I have no sympathy for these people either. Along with the printing warning, Ryanair frequently posts their dimensions, weight and number limitations, online and in their emails, and they even have scales and luggage sizers before check in so you can check your baggage using the same sizers that the staff use themselves. Still can’t figure out what 1 bag weighing under 10kg and smaller than 55 x 40 x 20cm means? … well maybe you don’t deserve cheap flights.
Problem #3: But they want to charge for the toilet?!?!?!
Anyone who researches this idea for a second would see that they weren’t trying to charge £1 for toilets for no reason. People using toilets on flights costs airlines a lot of money and severely damages the environment, as all this waste needs to be dealt with safely and carefully. Ryanair wanted to reduce the number of toilets on flights under 2 hours (which face it unless you have a medical problem you should be able to hold it in for) to increase the number of seats on the flight, lowering the cost of flights, decreasing damage to the environment and yes make some money themselves. Does that make them evil? Maybe but personally I don’t think it’s such a bad idea.
Now here’s some facts for you. Ryanair is the number one on time airline with 90% of their flights early or on time and 98% on time or delayed by less than an hour. Ryanair is the cheapest European budget airline by a substantial margin, with most flights being less than half the price of their competitors. Do they fly to airports miles outside of cities? Yes, but they don’t hide that fact. Are their flights sometimes at 6am in the morning? Yes, but so are most of their competitors. Should we stop using them or name and shame them because people can’t follow the guidelines correctly? Probably not.
Without Ryanair I wouldn’t have been able to visit half the European countries I have over the years. My mother could not have afforded to visit me on my year abroad, I would not have been able to come home for my birthday, Morocco for £35 return? Yes please, and I definitely couldn’t have afforded to go to Helsinki to see one of my best friends.
Yes there are many things about Ryanair that are less than luxurious, but when you are paying £6 for a 2 hour flight can you afford to complain?
P.S I was going to write a Ryanair survival guide but The Savvy Backpacker got there first and did a pretty good job of it.