Guide: Ryanair

Quick Tips:

  • Look out for regular promotions and seat sales
  • Travel light and don’t pay for unnecessary extra baggage
  • Use the app for check-in and look at the seating plan to see what’s available

“Welcome on board this Ryanair flight. May we have your attention while we point out some of the safety features on this Boeing 737-800 aircraft”

I’ve heard this spiel so many times now, I could almost recite it. Love it or loathe it, Ryanair is cheap as chips.

I have rarely had any issues with them, a couple of delayed flights here and there but aside from that my experience has been absolutely fine. I’m only one of the millions of passengers that fly with Europe’s largest airline (by passenger numbers) and despite this, Ryanair was voted the least liked short-haul airline for the 6th year in a row in 2019. Aside from issues that are the responsibility of the airline i.e cancellations, delays and strikes, I actually think that passengers are creating their own problems unnecessarily. So here I am to guide you through the wacky world of Ryanair.

Firstly, look out for any offers of flash sales. Ryanair regularly does this and sometimes have up to 25% off so it might be worth considering signing up for email alerts. Consider the time and day you book – prices tend to go up at the weekends. If you’ve seen the price a few times and it hasn’t changed, I would be inclined to book as they’re more than likely to rise otherwise.

Get your priorities right – priority and non-priority boarding that is. Ryanair regularly changes their baggage policies and the prices for bringing luggage on board or put in the hold. Airlines make little or no money, or even a loss on selling seats alone. The money is made in extra baggage, seat selections and onboard sales. I travel with just a backpack and can fit about a week’s worth of clothes in it. Ryanair’s current baggage policy is:

  • Non Priority: 1 free personal bag into the cabin (40x20x25cm) to fit under the seat in front of you
  • Priority Boarding (£6 at the time of booking or £8 as an add-on), 1 personal bag plus an additional 10kg bag (55cm x 40cm x 20cm) into the cabin

(Priority Boarding is capped at 95 out of 189 passengers per flight for space reasons.)

  • Alternatively, £8 at the time of booking or £10 after booking to have this extra 10kg bag checked in to the hold.
  • £25 for larger check-in luggage to the hold

If you really need the extra, then make sure you pay for it whilst booking otherwise adding it on at a later date could be costlier. If you don’t NEED the extra luggage, don’t pay for it and take up unnecessary room that is limited in the cabin. There’s nothing more annoying than people trying to cram in a suitcase to the overhead bins that clearly don’t have space (which are already filled with plenty of bags that would fit under the seat in front).

Get appy – Use the Ryanair app instead of checking in or your computer and printing off a boarding pass. You can check-in for a flight 60 days in advance IF you purchase a seat (or have a Flexi Plus ticket). I really don’t think it’s worth it because you’ll be given a seat regardless. Standard check-in is 48 hours – 2 hours in advance of each flight departure and a free seat is randomly allocated. The benefits of using the app are that you don’t have to print anything off and try not to forget where you put it or having to pay for a seat for your return flight (unless you’re going for less than 48 hours or taking your computer with you and have access to a printer).

The best feature on the app is that you can see the seating plan of what seats are left. Exit seats and those nearer the front are more expensive and leaving checking in until closer to the flight time (online check-in closes 2 hours before the flight departure time) tends to guarantee a better seat. The past three flights I’ve been on I’ve had exit row (extra legroom) seats and I didn’t pay anything for them. This is because as more people check in during the standard 48-hour window and are assigned standard seats, fewer seats become available and the exit rows and front seats that haven’t been reserved in advance will have to be assigned at some point. Therefore, by seeing which seats are left, your luck of the draw (or algorithm in this case I guess) is better if there are fewer seats available and also (if you’re not going solo), better chances of sitting together if there are seats together.

That leads me onto my next annoyance, which I think sometimes leads to delayed flights or frustrated passengers. If you REALLY need to sit next to your partner/relative/lover/friend/ex then PAY FOR IT or at least wait until the flight has taken off. There’s nothing more annoying (or rude to the person you’re asking to swap) than people swapping seats than the one they’ve been assigned. I’m sure you can live without their presence at your side for a couple of hours. Plus it just holds everyone else up whilst you’re faffing around.

So all in all, be considerate to your fellow passengers, crew and of course yourself. Make sure you know all you need and do everything that needs to be done before you go. It’ll make the journey a lot more enjoyable and there is literally no need to stress about anything. I hope Ryanair’s Low Fares, Made Simple motto has now been made simpler.

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