RyanAir might be the “world’s favourite airline” based on the number of passengers it carries per year, but it’s still notorious for being unpleasant to fly on.
One index rated RyanAir the second-worst brand in the world for customer service last year. The Dublin-based airline has drawn so much ire from passengers that one set up a website with the URL “ihateryanair.co.uk” and was later forced to forfeit the web address to the company.
RyanAir’s bad reputation isn’t very surprising considering it once announced plans to charge passengers to use the bathroom (which the company later dropped).
Flying with RyanAir is predictably frustrating in many ways, but the service wasn’t so bad that it deterred me from booking flights with the airline while I was living in Europe. The rock-bottom prices keep customers coming back, and I don’t know of any airline in the US that lets you fly to another country (or another state) for $US20.
I flew with RyanAir several times over the past year, and I did notice some differences from more traditional airlines.
Hands-down the most frustrating thing about flying with RyanAir as an American is having to go to bag drop to get your boarding pass stamped.
Even if you're not checking anything, non-EU citizens have to get a 'visa check,' which means waiting in the long line for bag drop to have an airline employee behind the desk check your passport.
You also can't get a mobile boarding pass if you're not an EU citizen, which means you have to remember to print out a paper boarding pass before you head to the airport.
If you forget to do that, you could end up paying €15 ($22.67) at the airport to have them reissue it.
And you could end up waiting in another line. At the airport in Barcelona, I was given this slip of paper and told to take it to another window to have my boarding pass printed.
The flights themselves aren't too terrible, but they're not great. For example, just about every time I flew with RyanAir, passengers had to walk out onto the Tarmac to board the plane via a set of exterior stairs.
The bigger problem was the lack of seat-back pockets. Some RyanAir planes have them, but most flights I was on did not. This makes it difficult to find a place to put your things while you're getting settled.
Because of the lack of seat-back pockets, the safety information for the flight is posted on the back of each seat.
The food on the plane leaves a lot to be desired. The basics are there, but there's not much else. This menu also pokes fun at RyanAir's infamous stunt claiming that they'd start charging people to use the bathroom.
All in all, I found that RyanAir's flights were consistently cheaper than other budget airlines, which made it worth it for me to keep flying. As one former airline employee I met during my travels told me, the planes generally arrive on time and in one piece -- which is about all you can ask for considering how much you're paying.
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