As someone who has traveled around Europe on the cheap a couple of times, I am no stranger to Ryanair, the low-cost airline that offers flights around the European continent for as low as 25 bucks. As of now we don’t really have this luxury in the states (as even our cheapest flights on niche carriers like Spirit Airlines are considered a steal if they’re around $100), but if the head honchos at this discount Irish airline get their way, there will be dirt cheap round-trip Ryanair flights to America in no time.
The powers that be at Ryanair have been trying to breach the transatlantic market for a while now, and many thought that the first flight across the ocean blue would occur in 2009. Obviously, that didn’t happen. But with a renewed interest in buying out Aer Lingus, Ryanair has reiterated its intent to offer U.S. citizens insanely low airfare (think, like, $13 pre-tax) to Dublin, London, and beyond. You’re probably saying, “This sounds too good to be true! Is there a catch?” And the answer is yes.
I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but everyone who is unfamiliar with Ryanair should know that in order to make their flights so cheap, they cut out a lot of amenities that we’ve all come to expect as commonplace on flights. So for those of you who have never flown Ryanair, just know that this is what you can expect on a 7-hour plus flight from the States to the Old Country:
1. Fees, Carry-on Size Restrictions, and More Fees
All Ryanair passengers must print their own boarding passes at home, lest they want to incur a £60 ($95) fee at check-in. Also, there’s no policy on checking one of your bags for free, because all bags that you check have to be paid for on a size-of-bag basis. Oh, and speaking of the size of your bag, the one carry-on item you are allowed to bring with you to your seat cannot be larger than 55 x 40 x 20 centimeters or they’ll make you check it. No use trying to fool the system either, because gate agents make you fit your carry-on into a sizing apparatus before allowing you to board. Stress-free flying, right?
2. The Mad Dash to Claim a Seat
When you print your boarding pass at home or melt down the gold in your dental work to pay for it to be printed at the airport, you’ll notice that there’s no seat assignment. That’s because Ryanair doesn’t do seat assignments — unless you want to pay for one, of course, and even then the seats available for assignment are restricted to a few rows in the middle of the cabin. Instead, when the boarding door opens the gate agents say “EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF! TAKE NO PRISONERS!” and let passengers fight tooth and nail for their seat after sprinting across the tarmac. So if you have a friend or loved one you’d like to sit next to, hold onto them tight and pray for salvation.
I don’t think this method necessarily saves the company money, but rather inconveniences people enough to make them want to pay more for a seat that they choose ahead of time. Clever!
3. A Cabin Crew of Salespeople
As soon as the plane is in the air, flight attendants morph from regulators of in-flight decorum into traveling salespeople. Ryanair doesn’t just offer hastily microwaved cheeseburgers, lottery tickets, and smokeless cigarettes (that you can use right there on the plane!), they remind you that they do over the intercom ever 5 minutes or so. And don’t bother cranking up your headphones to drown out their sales pitches, they have that intercom turned up to a decibel that will pierce through your blaring Rihanna jams.
4. The Surprise Ending
Simply put, if your Ryanair flight lands safely, they play a congratulatory trumpet sound and encourage everyone to clap. Which leaves one pondering how often a Ryanair flight doesn’t make it to the final bugle call.
I’ve never had a severe problem with any of these annoyances, but I’ve only had to deal with them for a few hours from point A to point B. Imagine, however, having to put up with all this on a marathon transatlantic flight where all you want to do is relax and be reassured that your plane isn’t made out of popsicle sticks. So I ask you,
Would you give up your comfort and book Ryanair flights to America or Europe for the sake of a good deal? Let us know in the comments!
Featured Image courtesy of tombihn.com