Ryanair is a budget airline that is best known for being no-frills. That can be a good thing if you’re looking for a straightforward flight. The problem is that Ryanair flights come with so many problems, headaches and hidden costs that by the end of their flights you feel like you should have splurged on a first class seat on a luxury airline because you just never want to go through a Ryanair experience again.
Not convinced? Think that trying to save money with Ryanair’s tempting discount promotions is a good idea? Look at these twenty reasons why it’s really not:
- The website is difficult to navigate. Booking a ticket online should be easy but it’s not with Ryanair. They ask you numerous questions that are confusing and, when answered incorrectly, can end up costing you money.
- Ryanair tries to sell you their special suitcase! One of the questions you have to answer when trying to book a Ryanair flight is whether or not you would like to buy a special Ryanair-approved cabin-sized suitcase. It’s a £69 Samsonite Aspire carry-on that reportedly weighs “3.5kg which amounts to a third of your 10kg Ryanair carry-on allowance even before you’ve packed anything.” It’s easy to get lured into all these tricky things Ryanair tries to get you to accept that are actually just a waste of your money.
- They treat you like a criminal. Ryanair is taking that 10kg weight limitation seriously, going to the trouble of weighing every single passenger bag at some airports. They’re so busy treating you like someone who is trying to sneak on extra weight that they may forget to treat you like a human being!
- Ryanair charges the highest fees for excess baggage. If you do get caught going over your weight allowance then you will pay more per kilo of added weight with Ryanair than with other airlines. You will be charged 20€ per kilo or else you could pay to buy a new bag on site and then pay up to 70€ to check the extra bag.
- They charge extra for specific equipment. Be careful what types of things you want to bring on a Ryanair flight. Even if the items fit in your allotted weight requirement you may be charged extra if you are bringing a musical instrument or any sports equipment (including a bike). Fees range from £10 to £50 depending on what you bring.
- You’ll pay if there are name misspellings. The difficulty of booking a flight using the online tool means that a lot of people end up with small misspellings on their names. If you catch this in advance then you will be charged a small fee. If you don’t catch it until you’re at the airport then you can be charged as much as 150€ per person or you may actually be denied your flight but still have to pay for it. This is such a common problem that Ryanair lists the name change fee in their table of fees!
- You won’t get the deal that you saw advertised. Ryanair has been caught more than once advertising super cheap flights that turned out to not be real. For example, they recently, “offered flights to Dublin for £27.99, although it was apparently impossible to book a flight for this price” according to ihateryanair.org. Incidentally a tribunal has just ordered that this anti-Ryanair site be handed over to the control of Ryanair itself.
- You have to pay to get a reserved seat. One annoying feature of some budget airlines is that they don’t just assign you seats so it’s a first-come-first-served kind of seating mess. That’s a Ryanair problem that a lot of people have complained about over the years. In 2011 Ryanair has decided to test out doing it the normal way, by offering assigned reserved seats. However, if you want to take advantage of this “service” then you have to pay an extra ten euros.
- Pay extra to get on the plane first … but you might not get on the plane first. There is a priority boarding fee for people who want the option of getting on the plane before everyone else (presumably to get better seats without paying the higher rate for a reserved seat!) However, Ryanair is notorious for charging this and then not actually letting people get on the plane first at some airports. For example in one case they allowed priority boarding to get on a bus to the plane first but this actually meant they were last off the bus and therefore not first on the plane. And they paid for this “privilege”.
10. You have to pay to use a credit card. Unless you get a prepaid MasterCard then you will pay £6 per person per flight just to pay for your flight with a credit card. That’s higher than many other airlines (which charge a single fee, not a per-person, per-flight fee). Hopefully the OFT will rule later this year that budget airlines can’t charge these excessive credit card fees anymore!
11. They try to trick you with currency conversion. About.com reports: When booking a flight from a country that has a different currency to your own, “Ryanair offers a ‘guaranteed exchange rate’, which is often 6% or 7% higher than your bank may offer you. Even if you decline it, it urges you to accept, saying “you will not receive a guaranteed rate from your bank”.” This confusing statement can end up costing you if you fall for it.
12. You have to pay to get your ticket at the airport. Ryanair requires that all passengers check in online rather than at the airport. If you don’t do this then you can still get your ticket at the airport but you will be charged as much as 40€ per person for this “boarding pass reprint”. This fee is constantly in flux due to ongoing complaints about it but it’s just another sign of what Ryanair tries to get away with.
13. It’s an ordeal to get back money that is owed to you. For example, the Irish government is abolishing a travel tax. Rosemary O’Grady reports: “Ryanair passengers who have already paid the €3 tourist tax on advance bookings will not automatically get the money back and will have to apply for the refund when the Government confirms the effective date for the abolition of the levy.”
14. Taking a baby with you? You’ll pay for that, too. When you travel with an infant that will be riding on your lap you don’t expect to have to pay. After all, you’re not using an extra seat. However Ryanair has a per-infant-per-flight charge of £20. You will also be charged additional money if you want to bring a car booster or travel cot on the flight for the baby.
15. Ryanair may change your flight time and then charge you when you miss your flight. That’s what happened to one customer reporting on AirlineQuality.com who says that as soon as the time change was announced he called to let Ryanair know that the time wouldn’t work but that Ryanair mistakenly noted this as confirming the time change so he was charged £150 for a ticket that couldn’t be used and spent another £20+ on phone charges trying to get the issue sorted out (although it never was).
16. The airline is charging customers for flight delays! There is a new £2 fee being charged to each customer that is supposed to offset the cost of paying out compensation to people who have flight delays and cancellations. This means that if a flight is canceled and the airline actually offers vouchers to make up for the fact the money comes out of your pocket instead of theirs. In fact, The Telegraph has reported that this fee could earn Ryanair up to £150 million in a year.
17. You may be denied the right to board with your family. An Oracle worker from Germany recently described a terrible ordeal trying to fly Ryanair with several family members. One member was missing a stamp. Note: “It’s not an official stamp, it’s a stamp the Ryanair visa counter puts onto the ticket just to show that you have showed them your passport that you have the valid visa. She had all the needed documents. Nothing was missing; nothing was unclear.” But since they failed to stamp it, she wasn’t let through boarding even though her family was already through and they had to fly without her!
18. The boarding problems aren’t just for non-UK citizens. Ryanair requires UK citizens to get a passport even if they are only flying within the UK. This isn’t a legal requirement, just something that Ryanair does to add a bit of extra hassle to flying with them.
19. The crew might not notice that the plane isn’t safe to fly. A Ryanair jet’s engine was damaged during a landing in Dublin and yet the plane went on two more flights before the crew and maintenance people realized that it had problems. Scary!
20. Ryanair travel insurance is a waste of money. With all of the problems that you might experience on a Ryanair flight, you may think it’s worth it to get the travel insurance. However, this budget airline charges more than many other airlines for insurance that is not as comprehensive as the others. In other words, it’s a waste of your money.
Being cheap shouldn’t mean that you treat your customers badly! Do you have a Ryanair experience to share? Good or bad, we’d love to hear about it in the comments!