I just read the very exciting news that Europe’s most love-to-hate airline, Ryanair, will be launching six new routes out of our very own Nürnberg airport this coming April. Now if you’ve never had the experience of flying on Ryanair, you might be wondering about what’s not to love about cheap cheap cheapy flights. Well… I’ve flown Ryanair twice and I have to say, there are a couple of things….
1) Airports in the middle of nowhere. When I went to Rome back in February, we flew out of Memmingen, which at the time was advertised as “Munich West” on the Ryanair website. It no longer says that, but I’m guessing someone complained about the fact that the “Munich West” airport was a two-hour train ride from Munich. This is a fairly common practice with Ryanair, so keep that in mind. On the other hand, when I flew from Prague to Dublin, that’s exactly where the plane went, so depending on the city and how many airports there are, you might be okay. However, on that flight we ran into another minor snag…
2) Oh to be an EU citizen. It would be great for so many things, one of them being flying with Ryanair. I was traveling to Dublin with another American, and had dutifully printed out our tickets in advance, as Ryanair charges you to print them or check-in at the airport rather than online. One teeny, tiny problem though. On the tickets it clearly stated that any non-EU citizens needed to have their passports/visas checked, and the tickets stamped. Since we had already done the online check-in, when we arrived at the airport we skipped going to the counter and headed straight for security. Because why go to the check-in counter if you’re already checked in, right? That’s what we thought.
We went through security, got our passports stamped, and headed for our gate. At the gate, there was another ticket check, after which you were herded into the cow pen to await the shuttle buses. We were fairly close to the front of the line, and pretty pleased about that. We watched the people ahead of us attempt to make their hand luggage as small as possible (more on that in a second), and congratulated ourselves on our efficient packing. Famous last words. When it was our turn for the ticket check, we were sternly told that we had missed the visa check. Foolishly we had thought that the multiple security checks that we had gone through were all that was required. Nope. The ticket agents told us that we’d have to move over to the side (where all the people were frantically stuffing their luggage), and wait for someone to come and stamp it for us.
I’ve read some horror stories from other people flying Ryanair who did the same thing and ended up being completely denied entrance to the plane, so I guess we were pretty lucky. At the time though, we anxiously watched the entire line pass us by, as we waited, waited, and wondered if we were going to get to Dublin after all. Finally though the person who was working the check-in desk moseyed her way back to the gate, and barely even glanced at our passports before stamping them. The silver lining to this was that we were some of the last people into the cow pen, which meant last onto the bus, which meant last onto the plane and in the very back row. When we got to the gate in Dublin, they opened both doors and we were off that bitch lickety split. Sweet!
3) Now for the baggage issue. Basically if you have any desire to bring more than a toothbrush and extra socks with you, I’d consider another airline. Ryanair has, by far, the strictest luggage policy I’ve ever encountered. When they say one carry-on, they mean one carry-on. Ladies, that means that you need to stuff your purse into your backpack before they let you through that door. But even stuffing might not work, because their luggage size rack is about the size of a pack of cigarettes. This is the best picture I can find…
Really this doesn’t do it justice. It’s real small. A part of me appreciates this, because it seems like every time I fly, everyone else on the plane is trying to stuff suitcases/musical instruments/hockey bags* into the overhead compartments, and I end up having to put my purse or backpack under the seat and so I lose out on that valuable foot space. But the other part of me wants to bring more than a toothbrush and pair of socks when spending the weekend in another city.
4) Don’t expect a relaxing flight. Between the flight attendants going up and down the aisle trying to sell you things, the commercials on the TV screens, and the sound effects for landing, you probably won’t get to nap. Luckily most of the flights are so short that you can probably ward off a migraine with an aspirin.
Overall, I’d say I’ve had fairly tame Ryanair experiences. If you want to read some horror stories just head on over to Google and you’ll find plenty to read. But if you live nearish to Nürnberg, starting in April you can look forward to quick and cheap flights to Spain, Italy, Portugal, and the U.K. Hello spring break in the south of Spain! And maybe, just maybe, if we’re lucky, they’ll have managed to push through this ‘standing room seats’ idea, and we can do it even cheaper. Yep, seriously. Standing room seats. Good luck with that one.
*Seriously. I was on a flight in the U.S. with a hockey team. THOSE BAGS ARE TOO BIG TO CARRY ON. But they alllllllll did. I get that nobody wants to pay to check bags in the States anymore, but if you can’t afford the $25** bag fee, should you be flying??
**Is it still $25? $50? Someone let me know. Either way. CHECK THE HOCKEY BAGS.