Most of my friends say they would rather chew their own arm off than fly Ryanair. We, however, live in France and one of our nearest airports, Carcassonne, only has Ryanair flights. True, we can (and sometimes do) fly easyJet from Toulouse, or if we felt like really splashing out, BA, but when we are flying fairly often as a family of four flights fo just a few pounds are hard to say no to.
I know almost no one agrees with me here, but (whispers) I don’t think Ryanair is that bad. In this world you get what you pay for, and if your flight has cost less than your on-board sandwich, as it quite possibly will have, you can’t expect luxury.
That said, the key to flying Ryanair without wanting to kill someone is to follow the rules to the letter. These are my top tips.
* The only way to avoid the “booking fee” is to book with a pre-paid credit card. However most are subject to fees so it may not be worth getting one unless you book a lot of Ryanair flights.
* Print off your boarding pass at home. I can’t stress this enough. If you forget, you wil be charged up to £40 per pass. We made this mistake just after the new rule had been brought in when we were flying back to London as a family and had to pay 160 euros for boarding passes on flights which had cost about £50. Gutting. We didn’t shut up about it for the whole trip, which made us very interesting dinner guests.
* Don’t buy priority boarding. If you are travelling with children, you don’t get to board the airplane first, unlike with most other operators. However, the air stewards and stewardesses are not going to let your children sit alone and will shuffle people around if need be. Also, you can have a good laugh at the people who have paid for priority boarding when they have to get on a bus to get to the plane and end up getting on last. Ha ha ha.
* Weigh your luggage – luggage scales are inexpensive. Ryanair luggage allowances are paltry – a normal suitcase packed in an ordinary way will usually weigh more than the 15kg limit for the hold. Hand luggage must weight less than 10kg and it will often be weighed at the airport.
* If you cannot squeeze everything into your hand-luggage, book your hold baggage in online. Online it costs £15 per bag, at the airport it costs £35. Prices are higher in July and August.
* Don’t go mad in duty-free – at certain airports Ryanair check your luggage again at the gate. If your shopping puts it over the weight limit or you can’t fit it into one regulation-sized back, you will be forced to put it in the hold and charged £35, which makes any saving you made pretty pointless.
* Take food – especially for your children. The food onboard is wildly overpriced.
* Don’t expect to be able to take your car seat on the plane. Generally, you can take your buggy to the plane door and also get it back there rather than on the carousel, but it is wise to take a sling or baby carrier just in case, whoever you are flying with.