My niece is planning a European trip for early next year. She asked my advice on several areas of her planning, including the possibility of flying on Ryanair or Laudamotion (Ryan Air owns 75% of this company). I’ve flown on Ryanair and was able to give her some advice. I decided to share it here.
Ryanair is a low-cost airline based in Ireland. Founded in 1984, it now operates over 400 planes and flies in 37 – mostly European – countries.
Although I usually travel through Europe on trains, Ryanair can be a great option if the overland distance is long or if the trip requires a ferry ride. I flew from London to Dublin rather than taking a train from London to the west coast of England, a ferry from England to Ireland, and then another train from the coast to Dublin.
Flying on Ryanair or another discount airline can save money, but the flight may not be as cheap as it seems. Discount airlines charge fees for several items that other airlines do not.
There are several ways to save money on legacy carries as well as low-cost airlines. If possible,
- Fly in the middle of the week, rather than on a weekend,
- Fly early in the morning or late at night,
- Travel in the off season or shoulder season,
- Do not fly during holiday seasons,
- Book at least two weeks in advance, and
- Watch for sales.
Booking a Flight
Booking a Ryanair flight is not always easy. When you go to the website to book a flight, the first step is to enter the departure and destination cities.
I decided to do a little exploration for my niece who hopes to fly from Greece to Paris, France. When I entered Greece as the starting point, I had to choose a city. Not knowing what city my niece would be starting from, I entered Athens. No flights to Paris originate in Athens.
I changed my search to see what flights were available from Paris to Greece, thinking it might be easier to figure out a flight plan. As I check each Paris airport, I found that only Paris Beauvais had a connection to Greece. When I chose Greece as the destination, the only city was Thessaloniki. The route is flown both ways. My niece can fly from Thessaloniki, Greece to Paris (Beauvais), France.
After choosing the departure and arrival airports, it was time to choose the date. Luckily, the twice-a-week flight is available on the day she would like to fly. I clicked “continue” to see her options. There is one flight – 9:20 in the morning. When I flew the first time, I was given several options. From this page, you choose which flight by clicking the box that shows the price. If there is more than one flight available, they might be different prices.
I clicked on the price – “from €22.94.” The next page showed three different options. The first option, which is the least expensive, offers the flight plus a small cabin bag. The price goes up when choosing a package with more options. The options can also be purchased outside of the package, so I picked the cheapest option.
When I chose the least expensive Ryanair flight package, I was brought to a page where I was given the opportunity to upgrade. Since I was not interested, I just clicked “continue.” The next page offered seat selection. Seats in the back of the plane were the cheapest at €3 each, standard seats are €7 each, with upgraded seats adding as much as €18. If I don’t choose a seat, my niece will sit wherever they assign her. I decided she’d like to choose her seat, and picked a standard seat. (I’m not actually booking this for her, so she can choose what she wants when she books). When I flew Ryan Air, I saved money by letting them choose the seat.
Next, I chose to add the option of a checked bag. A 20 kilogram bag – about 44 pounds, adds another €25 to the price of the ticket. If she waits until after she books her flight, the fee goes up to €40. On the same page are suggestions for travel insurance, parking, car rental, and hotels. I’ll pass on those.
There is an option for adding an additional carry-on bag – up to 10 kilograms. Ryanair is changing their policy on November 1st to include the extra carry-on bag. My niece might have an extra bag – if she plans to, I will suggest that she adds it (if she is booking before the policy change). If she waits until after the change to book her flight, the prices will probably be higher to reflect the change.
The total for this flight, an assigned seat, and her checked bag is €54.94 – about $63.16. This is a reasonable price for a short flight.
Things to Remember
Ryanair does not have routes from all cities in Europe. Sometimes, it flies into smaller airports. If my niece is staying closer to Athens, instead of Thessaloniki, it will be less convenient for her to fly on Ryanair and she might be better off flying on a different airline.
Paris Beauvais Airport is located outside of Paris – a 1 hour and 15 minute bus ride away. The Paris-Beauvais Shuttle system is well organized and the tickets range from €16-17. My niece will also have to look at transportation options from where she is staying in Greece.
Ryanair is a low-cost airline that does not include all the options we may have come to expect. Food and drinks are not included in the price of the flight, although snacks (various prices) and lunch (€10) can often be purchased on the plane. In-flight entertainment is not included, so bringing your own music or videos on a phone or tablet is recommended.
Online check-in is required with Ryanair. If you wait to check in at the airport you will be assessed a €55 fee. You should also print your boarding pass – a lost boarding pass incurs a €20 fee. Check the Ryanair website’s help page for other rules and regulations.
Finally, remember to use a credit card with no foreign transaction fee when purchasing your flight to avoid an extra 3% charge.
Flying on Ryanair
Although booking a flight on Ryanair my be a little more complicated than flying on a legacy airline, the savings can be worth it. For shorter flights in Europe, the lack of food or entertainment is hardly noticeable.
If my niece decides to go through with her plans and flies to Paris on Ryanair, she will likely save money on her flight. She will have to look at all the details though, before she decides whether or not Ryanair is the best choice for her.
Ryanair can be a great option for flights within Europe. With careful planning, the savings of both time and money can be substantial.