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Please don't do it!
Member Name: louiseypees
Disadvantages: Hidden costs, useless service, the worst airline in the world
It will come as no surprise to you that this is not going to be a very positive review. Ryanair get an awful lot of bad press, and I am here to agree with most of it wholeheartedly. Obviously reviewing a whole airline is a little tough, as I'm not on every one of their flights, but I have taken enough of them now to safely say that I will never fly with Ryanair again. Here I hope to explain a little bit about why, and maybe even to save you some of the frustrations this horrible company has given me.
I've got a fairly long history with Ryanair, having once been a student fond of weekend breaks. Back in about 2002, they were relatively pleasant to fly with - definitely no worse than Easyjet, who were pretty much the only other option. Some of their recent business decisions, however, have left me much less happy to fly with them.
Case Study #1 - Flying with Ryanair, having booked through lastminute - April 2007
To be fair to Ryanair, lastminute.com were partly to do with the issues we had on this trip, but Ryanair were not entirely blameless.
We booked our flight as part of a package with lastminute.com to Florence. When we arrived at the airport (Stanstead - standard for Ryanair, but bloomin' awkward to get to, with very expensive parking facilities!), we were told that we'd have to pay extra for our hold luggage. Yes, this is a well-known drawback of Ryanair's service now, but back then it had only just been introduced. We had been given no notice of this when booking, and were taken by surprise at the airport with the additional £20 cost per person. Ok, the blame partially lies with lastminute.com, but as there was no mention on their website of this charge, I was led to believe that Ryanair had introduced this without informing their agents - very bad practice in my opinion.
Problem number 2 occurred when we discovered that we had been sent to Pisa airport. That's all very well, but we had booked a flight to Florence, which is rather a long way from Pisa. We made the most of this and spent some time in Pisa before heading off, but this was massively inconvenient, and Ryanair's branding of the airport as "FLORENCE (pisa)" was very misleading - the only thing the airport has in common with Florence is that it is in the same country! When you're actually in Pisa airport, they don't brand it as a Florence airport, this has been a decision on Ryanair's part, to try and get more people to fly there. Dishonest and horrible business practice.
On top of these issues, throw in grumpy and rude cabin crew; incredibly cramped conditions; expensive on-board food and drink and a massive feeling of cheapness, and you have a really disappointing experience.
Case Study #2 - Flying independantly with Ryanair, February 2008
We were naive. We thought flying Ryanair to Verona for about £50 each would work out cheaper than flying BA to Verona for about £100 each - logical, right? No, wrong.
1: Flying from Stanstead - nightmare. Parking costs a fortune and is miles away from the airport. Because we were flying Ryanair, the flights were at stupid times and so we had a nightmare journey/flying out experience. The parking ended up costing us about £20 more than Gatwick would've, and as for the petrol costs of getting to Stanstead...! We were already about £30 out of pocket - flights now costing £65 each.
2: New "checking in at the airport" charge of £5 each per flight - flights now about £75 each.
3: Flight actually arrives in Brescia airport, not Verona airport, which is much bigger and, er, closer to Verona. Similar story to Pisa whereby they're quite honest about the fact it's Brescia, not Verona, when you're in the airport, but unfortunately Ryanair lied about this on their website. Extra petrol for the additional 40 miles we had to drive each way - about £20? Flights now £85 each.
4: We were on holiday in Italy, we wanted to bring back some wine. We decided to bring a hold bag back with us. Little did we know that Ryanair's baggage allowance is a pathetic 15kg, for a charge of £10. Over this they charge ever increasingly stupid amounts, so we ended up bringing 2 bags back. £20 additional cost - Flights now costing £95 each.
So, if we'd wanted (shock, horror!) BAGS with us on the way out and on the way back, the flights would've cost us more than BA. If we'd flown BA, we would've flown to the airport we wanted to fly to; we would've been able to sit down in the seats without doing permanent damage to our knees; we would've had a sandwich and a drink included; we would've flown from a decent airport that wasn't Stanstead; we would've got decent service on the flight and in the airport and we would've arrived in a much better state of mind.
I would like to issue you all with a warning. If you want to fly with Ryanair, be prepared to pay, on top of your advertised flight price:
- Another £20 to take luggage with you.
- £10 to check in at the airports there and back.
- £5 for a toasted sandwich on-board, if you want food.
- £2.50 for a glass of water on-boad, if you want a drink.
- Additional transport costs from the airport, as it won't be anywhere near the advertised city.
- Additional £10 for priority boarding if you want a decent seat with your travel companions.
If you're prepared for these costs, and it still works out cheaper than the alternative (which it probably won't), and are prepared for the scrum to get a seat on the plane (you can't reserve seats), and the useless grumpy service, then by all means fly Ryanair.
If, however, you find an alternative that you can afford, I would highly recommend choosing that alternative.
Summary: Fly Easyjet!
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