Oh Ryanair. Every time I hear that name, my left eye twitches and I usually emit an odd sort of growling sound. If I am near something I can vehemently kick, I will. Read on for my Ryanair horror stories!
Back in my study abroad years in Spain, I used to fly Ryanair all the time; this weekend in London, next weekend in Rome, it was so tempting, easy and cheap! For 50 euros roundtrip I could explore all Europe had to offer, though I almost always had to sleep in at least one airport to catch their absurdly early flights, but it was worth it. By the end of 2008, I had my own niche firmly carved out in the T1 airport in Madrid.
However, after 3 agonizing and infuriating “incidents” with Europe’s leading discount airline, I finally learned my lesson and firmly put my foot down and refused to fly Ryanair again.
Since 2009, Ryanair has been firmly at the top of my s*** list, and here’s why:
Paris, the city of lights, the city of love, who could say no to a long, early December weekend in the most romantic city in the world? Direct flight to Paris, oh wait, Paris Beauvais, more like, Beau-where-the-f***-are-we? Are we still IN France?
2 hours later I roll off the bus in downtown Paris, ok whatever, I’m here, I’ll make the most of it. After quite possibly the worst travel weekend I’ve had, I was more than ready to travel a hundred kilometers back out to the middle of nowhere to catch my flight back to Spain. The entire public transportation system in Paris was on strike! No buses, no taxis, no metro, no trains, NADA. And if you’ve been to Paris, you know that it’s huge and for me, was one of the least walking accessible cities in Europe and my hostel was in Montmarte! Not exactly near the sights. One of my biggest memories was how much my feet hurt from walking for hours and hours and hours just to get anywhere.
My flight back to Spain was Sunday at 6am, which meant I was planning to sleep in the airport the night before. I wasn’t about to pay a fortune for Parisian lodging for 2 hours of sleep. However, Ryanair gave me the wrong bus times back to Beauvais and I ended up missing the last bus out on Saturday night. Damn! It turns out you can’t sleep in the Beauvais airport anyway, though I think I would have preferred being out there than in the sketchy outdoor bus station in Paris.
With no transportation available to me (thanks French strike!) I wandered around like an idiot for an hour or too. I asked a few hotels how much a room would be before quickly scurrying out! (I don’t make much that in a week). After being offered drugs twice and accidentally asking a hooker for directions, I dragged my freezing self back to a fancy hotel and begged them to let me sit in their lobby for a few hours til the bus came. Luckily they took pity on me and let me hang out til I caught the first morning bus (who said the French were unfriendly?)!
I’ll pick Easyjet over Ryanair any day Source
2. Bremen, Germany
I was backpacking through western Germany in December right up until Christmas. Hopping from one magical little town to another, drinking hot spiced wine at the Christmas markets while my nose turned red, I kept my spirits high and I was looking forward to spending the holidays with my friend’s family in Norway. I boarded a long train from Cologne to Bremen in the north to catch a cheap Ryanair flight to Oslo on Christmas Eve.
After spending the day in sleet and freezing rain, I made my way to the airport. Since I only had my backpack, I did online check-in like I had done with all my other Ryanair flights that fall. As I was boarding the plane, the flight attendent took one look at my ticket and said “This ticket isn’t valid, only EU citizens are allowed to do online check-in. Our computer system closes 40 minutes before take-off, so we can’t print you a new ticket. You aren’t allowed on the flight.”
Hyperventilating I ran back to the Ryanair counter like a crazy woman; I tried to explain that I had flown Ryanair before and done the same thing with no problems, and I didn’t know it was only for EU citizens; it was Christmas Eve, this was my first time away from home, I had to be on that flight, I couldn’t spend Christmas alone, have pity yada-yada-yada. The heartless soul that Ryanair so carefully and plentifully employs took one look at my teary face and said: “It sounds like you speak English well, did you not understand the website? Online check-in is only for EU citizens. No refunds.”
Running out of the terminal I went from ticket counter to ticket counter until I found one that had a flight to Oslo that night; I had to fly all the way back to Frankfurt near where I was before and then back, but whatever. Lufthansa, thank you for saving me! Calling my mom from a payphone, she finally told me to put that flight on the emergency card and we’d deal with it later. Can you imagine how much a Christmas Eve flight bought in the airport the day of costs? Well I now know and it still makes me cringe when I think about it.
They squeeze you for every penny Source
3. Pula, Croatia
That was the last Ryanair flight I took (or didn’t take) for 2 years, but did I learn my lesson? Nope. I’m all about second (and third) chances.
Summer of 2009, one of my best summers so far. I was researching in Madrid and then backpacking through the Balkans when I had to catch a Ryanair flight from Pula, Croatia up to London. I checked my big backpacking backpack and had my smaller backpack filled with my laptop and research books and papers, and camera equipment as my carry-on.
As we walked up to security, I had that horrible feeling in my stomach when I realized they had set up a giant scale and were making everyone weight their carry-ons. Oh crap. Of course my bag weighed over since it was filled with textbooks, so the darling Ryanair workers told me I had to go back and check it. Fine.
I got back in line, and when I went to check it, the lady promptly told me 200 euros! Since I had already checked one bag, my second bag was charged per kilo, and not the flat fee for a checked bag (this is also the one and only time I have EVER had to weight my carry-on).
Oh, hell no! At this point I had had enough with Ryanair and I had no shame and nothing to lose but my dignity. Since I didn’t know anyone on this flight, who cares, right? I also ran out of money 2 days earlier. So I yelled, I cried, and I made a gigantic scene in this tiny airport in the middle of nowhere, Croatia. With about 50 people behind me egging me on (the anti-Ryanair movement is going strong) and oggling over the scene, I embarrassed the worker enough that she let me check the bag for 25 euros.
An all too familiar scene Source
I was flying with them back in 2007-2009, when they were a much smaller and lesser known airline. Back then no one really knew about the faraway airports, the little policies they make to screw you over that change monthly, or about the strict luggage and carry-ons. Nowadays, Ryanair’s money schemes and horrible customer service and widely known and pretty infamous, and every one is usually wary with them. There is even a website about it: I Hate Ryanair.
Ryanair has super strict baggage policies, charge you out the wazoo for anything and everything, and try to rip-off non-EU flyers by making them do a visa check on their ticket or they can’t board the plane. As long as you stay on your toes when flying with them and know what to expect, you probably won’t have big problems. Also be weary that they are not always the cheapest option. I got really lucky with them letting me check that bag, they are usually not that understanding. This is a company that pays its employees an extra bonus for every bag they make you check at the gate and are consistently and continuously sued for misleading advertisements and rip-offs. What do you expect?
If you plan to brave the horror stories, then be sure to check out my friend Liz’s great post about her tips for flying with Ryanair.
Do you have any Ryanair horror stories to share? What are your experiences with them? Would you risk flying with them to save a few pennies?