Posted by: mdmusingsie | August 10, 2015

Ryan Air – The Different Airline

I’m no newcomer to travel. I’ve traveled extensively in the US and there are only two blank pages left in my passport. I’ve seen the video and heard the stories about them, but you just have to fly yourself to get the real Ryan Air experience. I can honestly say they are like no other airline I have flown.

One of the things I hadn’t known was that you can check in up to 7 days in advance. Handy feature if you know about it. I didn’t find out until two days in advance when I received an email wondering why I hadn’t checked in yet. Since the return trip was less than seven days ahead, I checked in for both my outbound and return flight and printed my boarding passes. Very helpful if you may not have a printer nearby for the return flight.

Tip 1 – Print the boarding pass(es) and place in wallet now!

If you arrive at the airport and you don’t have a printed boarding pass or a version available on their app on your phone/tablet there is a fee. Currently it’s a mind boggling €45! Per person. The cab driver that brought me to the airport said “that’s nothing!” He and his family paid €80 per person a few years back when they accidentally left their boarding passes at home. Two adult and two children airport printed boarding passes set them back €320!

Tip 2 – Check in early!

Unless you’re willing to pay a fee for picking a seat and/or priority boarding, you get assigned a random seat. The earlier you check in, the better your seat. Having only checked in about 36 hours in advance my outbound flight was a middle seat.

Tip 3 – Read the fine print!

It was getting on some late hour when I printed said passes and dutifully stuffed them in my wallet so I wouldn’t forget them. I glanced at them, but didn’t read them. Who does?

I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to peruse Duty Free (which is mostly only Duty Free if you’re flying out of the EU which did not include me in this case). I did pick up some water as it still isn’t allowed through security and hiked the mile to my gate.

Standing near the gate I pulled out my boarding pass and out of boredom began to read (for an hour flight I will have spent nearly twice that amount of time in the airport). Being a non-EU citizen, it said I was required to have my passport verified at baggage drop. Baggage drop! I was already at the gate? I had no baggage to check (an extra cost item) so it would never have occurred to me to stop at the entry level check in gates.

Did they not catch it when I went through security, you may be thinking? There was no passport check in security. I scanned my boarding pass on a Dublin Dart-style machine which opened to allow me though where I proceeded to place my quart bag of liquids, electronics and purse in the plastic tray, and fed those with my carry-on onto the belt to have everything x-rayed.

So, up to the counter I trod, now that actual airline personnel had arrived at the gate. The woman tsk-tsk’d as she informed me of my error and that it would cost me €100 to try to get on another flight (more than the cost of the original round trip ticket). Resigned that I had made the error by not reading the fine print on the boarding pass, would have to pay the fee and call my friend to say I would be arriving at some undetermined time in the future, I rhetorically asked “What choice do I have?” Fortunately I did have a choice and after further admonishment, she agreed to examine my passport and validate my boarding pass without charging the extra fee. As she was doing so I mentioned that I had flown Aer Lingus to the UK and didn’t have to passport check downstairs to which she replied, “It’s only Ryan Air” (the different airline). I expressed my profound gratitude and said, correctly, that it was my first Ryan Air flight and I would be more dutiful in the future, which included my return flight.

The learning experience didn’t stop there. After announcing that the flight would begin boarding soon about half the passengers began to form a queue (that’s a line for the folks in the US).  As I stood with my fellow passengers gazing out the window there wasn’t a plane for 100 yards in either direction. A good 10 minutes later our aircraft sauntered up.

Boarding pass and ID were checked as we began the walk to the plane. Walk? Did I mention there isn’t a jetway for at least a hundred yards or more? No frills, no jetway. The queue (line) had stalled as I was three steps down the stairs where we paused for another 3-5 minutes while the rest of the arriving passengers de-planed. All systems go, right? Not exactly. While the line began moving we were halted once again outside while they finished servicing the aircraft (thank the Goddess it wasn’t raining).

Up the stairs and into the plane, the seats are typical cattle car formation which means if you are over 6 feet tall you can comfortably rest your chin on your kneecaps.  There is no seat pocket in front of you – one less thing to clean in-between flights. Oh, and no matter how much you pay to choose your seat and priority board, there is no first or business class. We’re all one big happy lower-middle class.

So, if there is no seat pocket in front of you, where is the safety card that we are advised to carefully read? You can’t miss it. It’s glued onto the back of the sunshine-yellow headrest in front of you. Plus there’s an advertisement above it for the in-flight food and beverage service. Complimentary beverages? You must be joking. This is the different airline, remember? All food and beverage comes at a cost, but even on a 1 hr flight you can get hot food, if you so choose.

The overhead bins were the same sunshine-yellow as the back of the seat in front of you and contained a series of advertisements for holidays in “Marseille, AIX…La Provence!”

Did I mention no seat pockets? That means BYORM (or bring your own reading material, for the acronym challenged). Otherwise you’re left staring at the safety card, wondering how the woman at the top of the inflatable slide follows the diver’s arc arrow to land in the seated position with her arms crossed in her lap. I believe space limitations prevented them from showing the mid-air somersault maneuver necessary to achieve the proper landing. Gymnastics ability must be somewhere in the fine print that I haven’t read yet.

So there you have my first Ryan Air experience. I can’t really say anything bad about them. I was spared a hefty fine for not reading the small print. I arrived both ways safely and on-time. And the flight was relatively inexpensive (I forgot to mention it’s cheaper to book farther in advance as well.) However, it was definitely different, so be prepared and follow all the tips you can find.

Safety card on the seat-back in front of you

Safety card on the seat-back in front of you

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Responses

  1. Ha-ha. What an experience! I’m currently traveling for work & it’s my first time for this employer. The corporate travel department booked the following flights, Milwaukee to Dallas then Dallas to San Jose. Return trip is San Jose to Las Vegas then Vegas to Milwaukee. Four airports in 3 days.

    I’m in Vegas airport right now. It’s hot & crowded. Slot machines everywhere! The plane before us has mechanical issues which might cause me to be delayed. I can hardly wait to be home!

    I hope you had a great trip.
    Deanna

  2. Thanks for the chuckle, Dawn! The good news is that you made it safely to and fro.


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