Anytime you are headed to a new part of the world you wonder… which airline should I choose? A local carrier has a cheap flight, but is it worth it? I found myself asking these questions as I considered taking Ryanair in Europe. I knew that if I had questions, others probably did, too.
I know, I know, so many people talk about flying Ryanair and have taken it. Here’s the thing, I’m newer to travel in Europe without a travel guide and had never really flown city to city (I hadn’t been back since college).
So, before my trip to Greece, I was researching all the different ways to get to the islands. There are lots! Regular ferries, express ferries, cruises, yachts, flying, etc. Well, to my surprise RyanAir had super cheap flights to Santorini and Mykonos. And by super cheap I mean less than $50! You don’t find flights like that in the US very often, whereas all the flights on Ryanair seemed to be this cheap. Ferries were the same price but took way more time so flying it was.
I had heard RyanAir was like flying Spirit here in the US, so I knew it was a budget airline that would have some different rules. Their website was fairly confusing at times to understand. I searched and searched but couldn’t find much out there. I learned the hard way, but you don’t have to! It can be worrisome to take a new airline, I know I had questions! Hopefully, this post will help answer some of your questions!
Note: It is important to say that these were domestic flights within Greece and rules and regulations change. This is meant to be a helpful way to interpret the information on the RyanAir website. Their website should be your final check for information!
What makes it different?
For the most part, budget airlines are budget airlines. However, Ryanair is different from many other airlines, so it’s important to know the differences. The plane was very basic, and there was no WiFi available on the plane (at least for these short flights). They did offer complimentary drinks, but all snacks were extra.
Booking your flight
I recommend booking your flight directly on their website. It’s easiest, and you’ll get the best deal just by going to their site. When you book, there are tons of add-ons like bags and choosing your seat. We did add a bag each since we were traveling for over a week, but if you can avoid fees—do! They currently charge 25 Euros for the first bag and 40 Euros for the second.
They allow two carry-ons on their flights.
1 small bag on board (35cm x 20cm x 20cm)
If a second cabin bag (55cm x 40cm x 20cm) is brought to the gate, it will be put in the aircraft hold free of charge.
Online it shows bag weight in kilograms (which makes sense because that’s what most of the world uses), so we were a little worried about the restrictions. Both our bags were weighed before our flights. RyanAir recently updated their baggage allowance, and now you can bring a bag up to 20 kg instead of 15, which is over 40 lbs. So, we decided to check our bags and pay an extra $20. Checking our bags was an easy process with nothing unexpected at drop-off or with getting our bags when we landed. We prepaid so we just dropped them off, got our baggage tickets, and picked them up when we arrived.
This one was one of the ones that worried me. The process was unclear online… It said you have to check in two hours before or you will not make your flight and to me, checking in means being at the airport. Well, this had me thinking you had to be at the airport 2 hours before… but you don’t. You only have to check in online this early.
So you must check in at least 2 hours before online to get your boarding pass, but it does not have to be in-person. Also, this saves you money. They will charge you if you want your boarding pass printed at the airport.
It ended up being so annoying because we got to the airport at like 5 am for our Mykonos flight that left at 7 am, and tons of people strolled into the tiny airport (that had just a few gates and only or flight at the time) and strolled right in at 6:30 am. Ugh. 2 hours early just means online, not in person, so you can come an hour early and be fine. Lesson learned!
Getting your ticket
This was also a weird one. They will charge you $10 if you do not print your own boarding pass. This is also tricky because you can only check in 48 hours before your flight if you don’t want to pay a fee of $5. We already paid for bags and were trying to stay cheap so we didn’t pay to check in early.
We also didn’t realize we had to print them ourselves until we were checking in online. This meant we did not get to print our tickets early, but thankfully we found hotels/travel agencies each time that would print our tickets. This was a hassle though, and we almost paid more than we would have saved not buying early check-in. This is definitely something you should look into if you’re traveling around before your flight. Have a plan in place before you go.
The flight itself was fine. The plane was small, attendants were nice, and they had really funny flight safety photos on the backs of all the chairs. I’m pretty sure we spent the whole first flight making jokes about the poor characters in the pictures! I don’t feel like it was a bad flight nor anything to write home about, but was satisfied with our service and felt safe on the whole flight.
So while Ryanair was intimidating at first for a newbie like me, I ended up having a positive experience flying with them in Europe. If you want a budget airline in Europe, you can’t go wrong with Ryanair. Once you know the rules, you really can’t beat the price or what they offer!