Everything You Need to Know About Flying With Ryanair

May 7, 2019

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Flying low-cost carriers isn’t always fun, but everyone loves the feeling of snagging a super-cheap fare — especially if you can avoid spending more in extras and fees than the price of your original ticket. That’s why TPG UK is here to help you book and fly the Ireland-based budget airline, Ryanair, on your next affordable getaway.

(Photo by Anastasia Dulgier / Unsplash.)

Study Your Airport

Ryanair is notorious for sending travelers to an airport in the middle of nowhere and classifying it as the nearest big city. For example, it lists Paris (BVA) as a destination, but travellers unfamiliar with France may not realize that the airport is in Beauvais, an hour and a half drive outside of Paris. But if you want to see the City of Light, you should really consider flying another airline that goes to Paris Orly (ORY) or Charles de Gaulle (CDG). The same goes with Milan Bergamo (BGY), a little over an hour by bus to Milan’s Centrale station. Flying another airline to Milan Malpensa (MXP) or the even more convenient Milan Linate (LIN) is more straightforward. Sure, Ryanair may have the less expensive ticket — but does the airline really get you where you want to go? Make sure to check Google Maps to find the airport before booking.

Know the Hold Luggage Rules

It’s not uncommon for Ryanair travellers to pay more for their luggage than the fare itself, so make sure to familiarize yourself with the rules. Each traveller can check up to three bags weighing 20 kilograms (44 pounds) each. The 20kg bag costs £/€25 if purchased during the initial flight booking or £/€40 if added online afterward. Rates at the airport desk are higher still and vary by route and season. Bags weighing more than 20kg cost £/€11 per kilo (or local currency equivalent), capped at 32kg. A new option to check a 10kg bag is now available.

Here are TPG’s rules for checked baggage:

  • Always weigh your bag before travelling.
  • Pack a small travel scale to weigh it again before returning home.
  • Book and pay for your hold luggage when booking your ticket to avoid paying later, either online or at the airport.
  • Ensure your hold baggage doesn’t exceed the maximum size of 81x119x119 centimeters.
  • Know that travellers can share their purchased baggage allowance with other passengers on the same flight reservation when checking in together.
Pay attention to Ryanair's hold luggage policies in advance. (Photo by Marcoprati / Getty Images)
Pay attention to Ryanair’s hold luggage policies in advance. (Photo by Marcoprati / Getty Images.)

Know the Carry-On Luggage Rules

Passengers who don’t purchase priority boarding can take one bag for free to put under the seat with a maximum size of 40x20x25 centimeters. Priority passengers can take one bag to put under the seat with a maximum size of 40x20x25 centimeters, plus an additional bag with a maximum size of 10kg and 55x40x20 centimeters. If you don’t have priority boarding and you take a bag that’s larger than 40x20x25 centimeters, you will be charged to check the bag at the gate starting at £/€25.

Pay for Your Extras in Advance

Besides making sure that your luggage meets Ryanair’s restrictions, it’s a good idea to buy any other extras at the moment of booking so you won’t face higher charges later. This includes, but isn’t limited to, priority boarding and seat selection. Priority boarding starts at £/€6 and allows you to board first, as well as take on a carry-on plus a second bag (see size requirements above). This service is capped at 95 customers per flight, so if you think you want to add it on days after booking your ticket, it may no longer be available.

Seat selection is also something best done ahead. Not only does it offer you a more ample choice of available seats (starting at £/€3; extra legroom or front seats start at £/€7), but it also allows you to check in online up to 60 days in advance, meaning you may even be able to print your boarding pass right after you book if the timing is right.

Consider a Higher Fare Class

If you’re planning on getting all the extras (seat selection, priority boarding and hold baggage), you may well opt to bundle it all together with a deal on a Plus or Flexi Plus fare class. It could even be cheaper than adding all of these things to your base fare separately. Plus fares include standard seat selection, free priority boarding and one hold bag. Flexi Plus comes with seat selection, priority boarding, free airport check-in, flexible ticket changes and one hold bag. Ryanair also has special family fares if you’re traveling with kids in tow.

(Photo by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Ryanair Priority has benefits worth looking into. (Photo by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.)

Skip Ryanair Hotels, Transport and Car Rentals

While Ryanair wins for flight prices, it’s best to avoid purchasing these extras with Ryanair, as the terms can be restrictive and not user-friendly. There are plenty of other places you can go to search for affordable hotels and rental cars, and you can often purchase your post-flight transport with ease once you’ve landed. This way, if your flight plans change or your trip is delayed or canceled, you won’t also have to deal with Ryanair’s complicated customer service and restrictions when trying to get your money back or rebook your hotel, car rental or bus ticket.

Check in Online

If Ryanair travellers don’t check in online and print their boarding pass at home or download a mobile pass (when available), they must pay £/€55 to check-in at the airport and £/€25 to print their boarding card at the airport.

Travellers who’ve paid extra for seat selection can check in online between 60 days and two hours in advance of the flight. Those with unreserved seats can check in between 48 hours and two hours before the flight. If you have paid for your seats and it’s within 60 days, you may as well check in and print your pass (storing it in a safe place) directly after booking. Or, immediately complete the check-in process on your phone.

Get the Stamp

Some routes require non-EU/EEA citizens to have their travel documents checked and their boarding passes stamped at the Ryanair Visa/Document Check Desk. This desk can be in different spots in different airports, so leave enough time to find the desk, wait in line and get this stamp before boarding. If you’re unsure if you actually need the stamp (certain routes require it while others don’t), always double-check. If you need the stamp but didn’t get it, you will be denied boarding. And newsflash: Ryanair doesn’t care if you miss your flight. However, if you have been denied boarding and miss your flight because of an absent stamp or another travel document issue, you can call this number to argue with the company about it: +35 312480860.

Prepare Yourself

If you haven’t flown Ryanair in a while — or ever — you need to be prepared for what’s ahead. You’ll be charged for food and water during the flight, there are in-flight announcements every few minutes (no, we don’t want to purchase lottery tickets, Ryanair), your seat won’t recline and people start lining up hours before boarding.

A Ryanair flight flight between London STN and Madrid MAD. Photo by Lori Zaino for The Points Guy.
A Ryanair flight flight between London STN and Madrid MAD. (Photo by Lori Zaino / The Points Guy.)

But if you prepare, you can ensure a more comfortable flight. Don’t forget to pack:

  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Snacks
  • Water (post-security)
  • A neck pillow, if you plan to sleep
  • A travel scarf or blanket, if you get cold

If boarding early is important to you, get ready to line up. Even if you have priority boarding, it’s important to remember that as many as 94 other people will also have priority boarding, so plan to be at your gate with plenty of time, if you’d like to board first.

Read the Fine Print

Your Ryanair cheat sheet from TPG UK can certainly help you navigate your next trip with the budget carrier, but airlines can change their rules at any time, so it’s important to always read the conditions of your ticket before purchasing. It’s also a good idea to know and understand your rights as a flyer in case of delays, flight cancellations and strikes. Above all, this guide should ensure you’re prepared for your typical Ryanair flight, and won’t have to shell out for silly fees.

Featured photo by Lucas Davies / Unsplash.

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