In the U.S., Southwest Airlines is known as the “Greyhound Bus in the Sky.” They’re known for their “cattle call” when passengers wait in line to board the plane, no assigned seats and cheap fares.
It may be hard to imagine, but there is an airline which makes them look like a luxury airline. That airline is Ryan Air.
You may have heard about this airline in the past. They were in the media when they were going to charge passengers to pay to use the bathroom on their planes and lately for their idea of removing seats from the back of the plane and replacing them with ones where people can “lean” instead of sit, which would cost as low as four pounds (that’s about $6).
Ryan Air is known for their super cheap flights. You can easily fly within Europe for about $50, or even cheaper. But where they get you is with their millions of fees.
Like all airlines, they charge you for baggage. Although they’re a little more excessive with their fees than most. Both Jeff and myself already paid for our luggage up to 20kilos. But ofcourse we were over by 2kilos and had to pay an additional 40euros. And you’re only allowed one carry-on, so Keith had to check one of his bags.
When checking in, you must make sure the ticket agent stamps your boarding pass, which you must print out in advance so they don’t charge you. If not, then they’ll charge you a ton of money or most likely will deny you boarding. The nice lady at security reminded us of this after she asked us if we were Americans upon hearing our “accents.”
Like Southwest Airlines, passengers wait in line to board the plane and there are no assigned seats. You can pay extra to be in the “Priority Q” to board first. If not, then you’re in the “Other Q.” There are no numbers or groups for boarding, just one line.
To board the plane, there are no jetways. You walk out to the runway and walk up the stairs to board (the stairs are actually built into the plane). Even at an airport which has jetways, Ryan Air still has their own “gates” so the stairs can come out of the plane so passengers can unload.
The inside of the plane is a horrible blue and yellow color. The seats are leather but there is no seat pocket in front of you, and the back of the chair is made out of a very hard plastic. On the back of the chair is the emergency info.
Once the overhead bins closed, you then see another way for the airline to make money, with ads, There were ads all over the bins.
Once taking off, there’s additional ways for them to make money. Again as with most airlines, Ryan Air charges for all food and also beverages. US Airways tried briefly charging for beverages and failed miserably as passengers became really pissed off.
And then the prerecorded ads started. Even though I fell asleep on the flight from Dublin to Edinburgh, I did happen to wake up in time for one of their ads playing. It was an audio ad for some type of lottery ticket. As it played, the flight attendants held up these tickets for people to purchase.
Once we landed, another piece of audio played with the sound of trumpets playing, saying we just completed another on-time Ryan Air flight.
If you’re ever in Europe and fly Ryan Air, be sure to give yourself plenty of time. It really is an experience flying them. They’re pretty much as no-frills as an airline can get.