How To Fly Ryanair Like a Pro

Tuesday, January 05, 2016 Books And Trips

Who doesn't like to travel and pay as little as possible for a flight to a dreamy destination? With the abundance of low budget carriers nowadays, everyone can become a globetrotter. Plus, if you've been bitten by the travel bug, there is no cheaper way to satisfy your wanderlust.

My story with Ryanair started back in 2005, when I found out about this magic carpet airline, that could take me from Brussels to Rome just under 10 EUR. I took a leap of faith and embarked on my first trip ever, outside of going to school, on my own 19-year-old budget. I could not believe it and I did not up believe it until I saw myself on Ciampino airport, on the way to the Eternal City. Fast forward almost 11 years later and my love for Ryanair (and other budget carriers) is still going strong.

However, it's not all rainbows and unicorns. You need to be very careful when you book your tickets, as low cost airlines are known for trying to make up for the cheap flights by charging over-packers for stuffed luggage or miss-spellers, for typos made during the booking process. And because nobody wants to start their adventures on the wrong foot or end them on a sour note, I've gathered up a few tips on how to make the best out of your Ryanair experience:

Fare Finder
This is the best option if you have a set budget for your flight and don't really know where you want to go. You log into RyanAir Fare Finder set your departure spot and your maximum budget and let the magic happen - the search engine will show you all Ryanair destinations within your price range. This way I was able to score tickets from Bucharest to Brussels for 9.99 EUR. Keep in mind that the best days to get such low prices are Tuesday - Thursday, as weekend flights tend to get significantly more expensive.

Be aware that Ryanair and other low cost carriers (EasyJet, BlueAir, Pegasus, Wizzair) usually land on alternative airports, a little farther away from the city. Make sure you do your research before booking and know how to get from the airport to the city (e.g. train, shuttle bus, etc).

Buying the ticket
Alright, so now you decided where you want to go, you found a good price and you want to seal the deal. Enter your information carefully, and make sure you double check and triple check it as typos are very stingy (110 EUR for any name change).

Make sure you de-select the insurance box and get your own insurance, as it's usually a lot cheaper. Also, untick the reserved seating or preselected seats - unless you're the last to get on the plane it's unlikely you won't be able to score a seat next to your traveling companions. If you decide you need a checked baggage, pay for it now, because if you do it at the airport, you will shell out a small fortune to get it on the plane (more than the cost of your ticket to begin with).

Also, depending of the type of payment you choose, there will be an administration fee applied to your total charge (2% of the flight value for credit cards).

Online check-in
Ryanair is a budget airline for a reason: aside from the low cost ticket they don't give many things away, and a printed air ticket is a luxury. If you chose not to pay for check-in, you should do this yourself , between 7 days and up to 2 hours before your scheduled flight, otherwise they will charge you a 45 EUR airport check-in fee.
You do have the option to use the Ryanair app to do your check-in, but if your phone's dead for whatever reason, you're screwed! Better yet, print it at home and take it with you (along with the accommodation details and a copy of your documents - you can never be safe enough!)

Save by using carry-on luggage only
You don't need more than one bag for a 3-4 night city break. You really don't. So save on your flight by not adding any additional checked luggage.

You can board with one cabin bag weighing up to 10 kg with maximum dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm, plus 1 small bag up to 35 x 20 x 20.

Pack your own snacks
As any low cost airline, Ryanair will charge you for sandwiches and snacks. There is no point in paying for overpriced nibbles that you can get for way less at your local supermarket, so save your 20 EUR to buy yourself a nice tasty treat when you reach your destination.

However, if you can't resist the temptation and really must buy something, do yourself a favor and take a picture of your purchase to tweet to @Ryanair, using #ryanairinflight for a chance to win a 100 EUR voucher that you can convert to... additional flights!

Be patient and set your expectations low
I cannot stress this enough: Ryanair is a low cost carrier and you get what you pay for. This is not a fancy airline, the level of comfort has a lot to be desired, overhead baggage cabins are small, you will have to queue early to ensure you get seats next to your travel companions, but overall it is safe, it is cheap and gets you from point A to point B.

I've flown with them multiple times and never had any issues. As long as you don't expect more than bare-bone services and are very careful in reading the instructions, you won't be dissapointed.

Have you ever used Ryanair or any other low cost carrier? 
What was your experience? 
What are your tips & tricks for smooth sailing?