Since we moved back to Europe about 1.5 years ago, we have been traveling back and forth, going on weekend trips visiting my family, seeing friends, traveling for work or going on spontaneous trips just because we felt like it. I am writing this sitting in a beautiful café in Valencia, where I got to with a very cheap flight.
Ah, Europe and your Budget airlines. There are so much good and bad things to say about them, but I have to be honest: Thanks to Ryanair, we could discover so many new places, visit people, and I am so close to my family. I take so much advantage out of flying with Budget airlines, so I decided to create a little guide for those who are new to the game, so you can get the best out of living in Europe or your trip around Europe. Here are some tips on flying Ryanair, that will make your trip a success and your valet happy.
- Book through the Ryanair-App
- Be flexible
- Check-in online
- Book priority and add just one extra bag if needed
- Use the offers
- Bring headphones
Ups and Downs are to Be Expected
Here is a tiny disclaimer before we start: I am not promoting Ryanair, and I am way aware of the carbon footprint and the damage it might cause to the environment. However, every plane trip is, even if you fly other airlines. Also, Ryanair just recently launched a new environmental policy. In my opinion, if you are serious about the damages you cause flying you might have to look for alternatives. And also the comfort of flying Ryanair has changed a lot over the past couple of years. There are still some things like leg space and the fact that you have to walk to the plane sometimes. And they still have a lot of hidden costs you can avoid.
But that said there are many benefits you can draw from flying budget airlines in Europe if you know how! Because there are a lot of charges hidden and you might end up paying way more. BUT no worries you have come to the right place.
Let’s learn everything about flying Ryanair and discover Europe.
Booking Your Tickets
So Ryanair has tickets that cost from 5€ to X depending on where you go, when and when you book. But you will always have to count in a bit more if you want to check a bag or sit next to the person you travel with. I have some tips for you on how you can keep these costs super low. For example, for your current trip to Valencia we paid ca. 75€ for two tickets with carry-on luggage. We are here for a week, and I booked a place with a washing machine. In August 2018 we went to Andalucía for ten days and paid about the same. Last year we went to London for ca. 90€ and we booked for a popular weekend and Christmas we spend two weeks in Austria and Germany paying a 150€ for the flights including checked luggage and carry-on luggage. And I could just keep going on many trips I took I paid even less. There are only a couple of things to take care of when flying Ryanair.
The First Rule is: Be Flexible
Be as flexible as possible. I know that that is not always that easy when you have just a certain amount of vacation days, or your trip is limited to a specific time of the year. As a digital nomad, it is pretty easy.
I sometimes book trips based on flight prices. You can use apps like Hitlist for this. Or sign up to the Ryanair newsletter to never miss offers or cheap tickets. They also have an explore section on the website and app.
But before I get into the details, make sure to be able to have a bit of flexibility. Change some destinations around based on the flight combinations, if you are on a more extended trip and you will get the most out of the flights, and you can spend your savings on great food and some shopping. Also, Ryanair has excellent Black Friday deals and offers for other dates. They also have promotions almost the whole year round so you will find a good offer for sure.
Seat Allocation and Other Hidden Money Traps
There are few things to keep in mind though when you think about flying Ryanair, apart from the time when to book. If you travel with another person, for instance, Ryanair will seat you separately as they hope that you reserve a seat for an extra fee. Most of the time people are happy to switch though, and if you travel off season, you will have plenty of space to switch around. Speaking of seats keep in mind that you should mentally prepare for not much legroom. It is not that bad as some people say, and believe I have loooong legs so I know how precious leg space is.
And flights are usually not that long, so even if you cannot switch seats with someone else time will go by quickly. If you want to be a hundred percent sure to sit next to the person you travel with you will need to pay.
Make sure you always calculate with around 10-20€ more as you will need to pay for your luggage. But more about that later.
Play around a little with the dates and always have the whole month in mind to compare the prices if you can think of course.
The Airport Matters When Flying Ryanair
Be careful of which airport you book from. Sometimes it might be worth paying a bit more for the plane ticket but make sure the connections you book, go to a convenient airport. If not you might lose time and money commuting to the spot you are headed. Have a look at the map before you book your Ryanair tickets and check if the Budget airport is too far from the actual city you are traveling to.
There is a massive difference from Frankfurt Airport to Frankfurt Hahn for example, or Barcelona Girona is not the main Barcelona Airport. In some cities, it does not matter that much. London Luton could be a bit far but still has an ok bus connection to the city and Berlin Schoenefeld is almost as good as flying to Berlin Tegel. Sometimes even the smaller airports can be useful but check your connections before or you might end up spending way more for your trip.
The good news is that Ryanair is flying to many big airports by now as well and to many cities that help reach places in the countryside and other destinations.
Ryanair’s Luggage Policy and How to Get the Most Out of it
Ok so here is another thing that can be annoying and needs extra care when flying Ryanair. The luggage policy can be misleading and has some hidden costs.
There are 2 main categories you can add bags to:
No luggage (just a small bag) = no Priority
One small bag + one cabin bag = Priority
Priority tickets allow you to bring an extra suitcase (cabin size) backpack or other travel bags up to 10 kilos on board. This ticket costs 6€ more per each ticket.
Otherwise, you can check a bag up to 10 kilos for an extra 10€, and if you want to bring more luggage, you can book a 20-kilo bag for 20€ and other additional luggage items. If you already booked your tickets and wanted to add a bag afterward, it could cost up to 40€.
After the latest changes in the luggage policy, I book priority and think to myself the ticket was 12€ more expensive, which is still affordable. It can be a hassle if you book for the first time, but you will get used to it.
If you already know that you will check a bag book it with your ticket and will come cheaper. I usually book a place where I can wash my clothes or visit friends or family (who own a washing machine;)) and travel with a cabin bag as that comes cheaper and saves time.
Timing and Online Check-in
Never EVER forget to check in online when flying Ryanair. They will charge you €50 if you forget and have to check in on the airport. It is however very fast and convenient to check in via the Ryanair App. You can also save your information in there and every time you have to check in it is just pressing one button. The ticket can be kept on your phone, or you can print it out.
You can check in up to 2h before your flight and starting two days before. If you reserve a seat, you can check in earlier
Bring Food and Drinks.
There is board service for purchase on a Ryanair flight, but the food is expensive and well airplane food. You can bring your stuff however and save some cash. Also, many other Airlines do not offer complimentary drinks and food on flights in the EU. Ryanair is not an exception anymore. But they do sell a lot on board, so bring headphones!
They make most of their money selling things on the flight so be prepared for some hard sales pitches from anything from coffee to perfume and lottery tickets. I find that annoying, but I just put my headphones own to take my laptop out and ignore that. Usually around 2-3 hours later I am at my destination, and so far, I never had a problem flying Ryanair, and I know the horror stories.
For me, it is still one of the most convenient airlines in the EU and makes it possible to travel to so many different places on a meager budget.
And know you also know how!
So, enjoy discovering Europe and flying Ryanair with all the Ups and Downs.
PS: They also offer car rentals, insurances etc. But I never use them so I can give no opinion about them.
AND again this is based on my personal experiences and Ryanair is not paying me anything for this.