Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but hear me out.
Obviously flying a traditionally structured full service airline is a far more enjoyable experience and the preferred choice for the majority of travellers, including myself. Compared to Ryanair, flying economy on any other airline feels like your being wined and dined and treated to such luxuries reserved only for the elite of the world.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to love about Ryanair.
To give you some context, I studied abroad at the University of Liverpool for one semester earlier this year. Being Canadian, I’ve always resented how expensive it is to travel in my home country, and how limited the transportation options are, especially with respect to flying. So, I made it my goal to take advantage of being in Europe for as long as I was, for as often as I could. Ryanair was the obvious choice to allow me to do just this, and I flew exclusively with them during my time abroad.
Before I get into my thoughts on Ryanair though, here are the trips I took outside of the United Kingdom during my time across the pond, and their respective costs.
1. Liverpool, U.K. (LPL) —> Copenhagen, Denmark (CPH)
I booked this RETURN flight for a grand total of £16 (C$30). Flight time each way was about 1 hour 50 minutes, and left from Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport and landed at Copenhagen’s International Airport. I spent the weekend exploring Denmark’s capital with some friends back in February and absolutely loved it, but that’s a story for another time.
2. Liverpool, U.K. (LPL) —> Dublin, Ireland (DUB)
The quick hop across the Irish sea cost a total of £24 return (C$40) and was without a doubt the shortest flight of my life. The entire process from gate to gate took just over 40 minutes and I was in Ireland before I had decided which of my downloaded podcasts to listen to. Aside from the distance, I’ll touch on why this entire process was so seamless later on.
3. Liverpool, U.K. (LPL) —> Brussels, Belgium (CRL)
OK, so if you’re really good at memorizing airport codes, you’ll have noticed that CRL isn’t actually in Brussels. In fact, it’s about an hour’s drive away in the city of Charleroi, and far closer to France than it is to the nation’s capital. If this was any other airline, I’d be less than enthused, but Ryanair sold this return ticket for a mere £16 (C$27).
Thanks to the decline of the British Pound against the Canadian Dollar since my flight to Denmark, this meant Ryanair brought me on a 1 hour and 20 minute flight to Belgium and back for less than what Air Canada charged me to select my seat to London Heathrow back in January. Being dropped off an hour outside Brussels was a little inconvenient, and meant we had to catch a bus. I didn’t really mind this however because the bus was pretty inexpensive, and I got the chance to see some of the Belgian countryside.
- Fights taken: 6
- Time in the air: 7 hours 40 minutes
- Distance travelled: 3,700 km
- Countries visited: 3
- Total cost: £56 (C$97.00)
Obviously there are some sacrifices that need to be made when you fly Ryanair, especially at the ultra low prices I did. You don’t get to choose your seat, there’s no meal or drink service onboard, and you’re only allowed to bring a personal item onto the plane. Seeing as all my trips were short haul flights, and a total 3-4 days away maximum, none of this was an issue for me. I was able to stuff plenty enough clothes and toiletries inside my small backpack, and even had enough space to bring back small souveniers. Attach a water bottle to the side of the bag and you even have a container to bring water onto the plane aswell.
Just make sure you remember to empty it before going through security in Dublin or an Irish guard might make you chug the whole bottle in front of the entire terminal in an impromptu drinking competition. (Hilarious, but indeed not my finest moment)
If you can get past all of this, as I mentioned earlier, you’ll find that Ryanair has a lot to love.
For starters, they generally fly at off-peak times, meaning that the airports are quieter, security is smoother, and taxiing is far faster. With no large luggage, you don’t have to scramble to get to the airport early to check your bags, or wait for them at the carousel at your destination. Getting onto your flight is far less painless and very quick aswell because Ryanair does dual boarding, meaning everyone enters the plane from both the front and rear doorsat the same time, depending on where your seat is located within the aircraft.
Every airline should do this!
All of this combined means that not a single one of my flights with Ryanair was delayed or late. Always on time, and even sometimes early. Remember, for a fraction of the cost of a traditional airline. They even play a cool jingle on the plane to announce the accomplishment!
If you’re worried about getting stuck in a randomly allocated middle seat, well yeah, that’s going to happen. I mean you paid $15 for the ticket, what did you expect? In all seriousness, I only had to sit in the middle seat twice. Your odds are pretty good at getting either a window or an aisle seat, and there are usually enough open spots you can move around to find something you like anyways. You likely won’t be able to sit next to your friends or family, but I found this was a really unique opportunity to chat with all sorts of new people from around the world.
The Leg room is adequate (I’m 6 ft tall) and the seat width isn’t that bad either. Again, you paid 3 rocks and a flake of dust to be taken across the continent, how much complaining can you really do? You might even get lucky like I was and end up being moved to an emergency row to enjoy the extra leg room, or be asked to move to the first row of the plane for balacing reasons. There’s no inflight entertainment, which is to be expected, and an issue that is easily solved by downloading movies, music and TV shows onto your phone.
I’m back in Canada now, and I legitimately miss Ryanair. It’s not one giant nightmare like the internet and other travellers might have you believe. There’s a good chance you might be pleasently suprised. Sure there are compromises, but Ryanair is a what you see is what you get kind of airline that allowed me the freedom to explore more of Europe at an incredibly low price. It gave me the ability to use more of my money to enjoy the actual destination rather than burning it all just to get there. When it comes down to it, as an exchange student trying to maximize my budget, Ryanair gave me everything I asked for and more, and that’s not something you can say about every airline.
For this reason, and many more, Ryanair has become one of my favourite, if not my favourite airlines.
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