travel / travel guide

How to Get the Most out of the Ryanair System

Last week, I posted a piece about how to pack a Ryanair suitcase, and I promised some tips for using the Ryanair system to your maximum advantage. It can be a really easy, fast, and cheap way to see Europe – but it can also quickly become an expensive nightmare.


Except for Michael O’Leary, who loves it when you get charged. Photo via FlightGlobal.

So here’s how I’ve (mostly!) avoided expensive extra charges from Ryanair.

1. Take some time to compare ticket prices. Ryanair usually has the cheapest ticket price listed, but it doesn’t always have the best final price.

Don’t forget to factor in baggage charges and transport to and from the airport. Ryanair may promise to fly you to Barcelona, but there are three Barcelona airports – and two of them are an hour and €20 bus ride away from the actual city.

2. Make sure you pack effectively. Here’s my packing article.


3. Plan what you’re going to pack – I have a list of pointers below.

4. Line up carefully, and strategize which travelers you’ll be next to. I usually go near the end of the line, right after a large family, and after they’ve already caught and are dealing with travelers who are getting charged for baggage violations.

I also always have my hand baggage ready for boarding so they don’t spend too much time looking at me (one piece of luggage, jackets and items on your body, boarding pass and passport in hand).

6. Know what you’re getting into. Read the airline’s policies very carefully. Everything is laid out and explained precisely, though it may be a little difficult to find on their website.

For instance, I was unpleasantly surprised by the boarding pass charge (€40 for not printing it out at home!!)


Image credit: Terminal U

7. And finally, if you know you have too much baggage or your suitcase is just a bit too big, make sure you have enough money to pay for potential charges. I’ve never had my baggage weighed or my suitcase measured, but I always know that I’ll be able to pay for extra charges. Not being able to get on the plane because of extra charges would really ruin your trip.

Here are some pre-packing pointers:

  • Can you borrow something similar at your destination (i.e. shampoo)? Skip it – that’s why I have so few toiletries in my example case. Take as little as possible.
  • Figure out if your airport is flexible or really strict. England’s East Midlands tried to make me pay £3 for a plastic bag and go back through security because of a single 1-oz. bottle of contact lens solution. The security officer wailed “Oh,  my darling, what have you done?” when he discovered my non-bagged liquid.
  • Decide just how willing you are to risk the baggage charges. Pick how far you’re going to push it ahead of time (I inevitably choose “very far”).
  • Make sure your suitcase fits the Ryanair regulation size – 55cm x 40 cm x 20 cm.
  • Put as much stuff in your pockets as humanly possible.  Pockets don’t count as baggage allowance, and you can take it all off on the plane! Check out these fabulous vests, which the blogger behind A British Boy in Barcelona introduced me to.

Photo credit: Jaktogo

  • Wear as many layers as you can without suffocating. Here’s a trick – take your extra clothes in a plastic carrier bag to the airport, then put them on while you wait to board the plane. That way, you only overheat for about ten minutes. Easy!

So far, I’ve had really good luck with Ryanair. Figuring out how to play the Ryanair game definitely helps avoid those nasty extra charges that can potentially ruin your whole trip.

Photo credit: Bloomberg

Photo credit: Bloomberg

Ryanair travelers, do any of you have any other advice for making the most of the system?


13 thoughts on “How to Get the Most out of the Ryanair System

  1. Man, I’m exhausted after reading your packing article and this one. I’ve never flown RyanAir, partially due to hearing about everyone else’s experiences, and think I’d much rather pay the extra to not fly RyanAir than deal with them!

    • Haha Ryanair is an exhausting experience! I do definitely try to find other airlines to fly with but sometimes it’s much more expensive, so Ryanair ends up being the only reasonable option.

  2. Pingback: How to Pack a Carry-On Bag for a Ryanair Flight « ¡Hola Yessica!

  3. eek, they just had another emergency landing in Spain, their second in a week. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were kicked out (and hopefully better, albeit a bit pricier, airlines can move in).

    I went to Porto recently for a blog conference, and my friend and I defo gopt in line with people who had oversized bags. Worked like a charm!

  4. loved the photo of the woman that looks like she’s wearing a sack. I’ve definitely stuffed my pockets and over worn clothes just so there wasn’t a change they’d pull me aside. So far I’ve been lucky flying Ryanair but I surely don’t look forward to flying them but sometimes they are the only airline that flies to a destination. Darn monopoly they have!

  5. Oooooh Ryan Air… the last time I flew with them, I can’t remember if I told you this story… but I got to Barajas airport after flying in from Paris-Beauvais and walked in the direction where it said “recogida de equipaje.” Got to baggage claim and didn’t see my flight listed on any monitors. I followed a family that had been on my flight and we were told by a guy working there we had to exit the baggage claim and walk back to terminal 1 (we somehow had ended up in terminal 2). So we walked back to terminal 1 and had to wait for the door to open from the inside and essentially “break into” baggage claim.

    I luckily was not the only person who somehow ended up in the wrong terminal after getting off the plane! About four or five of us got to the door to terminal 1 and we all realized we had been on the flight from Paris! We were told that Guardia Civil might hassle us but that was not the case… the door opened as a guy walked out and we were waved ahead by a woman sitting at a table who didn’t even ask us our ID! Our suitcases were already on the conveyor belt waiting to be picked up. Turns out a lot of people got the baggage claim terminals confused and had to walk back to terminal 1. You might say the signage in Barajas airport might be to blame but I’ve never had this problem before and I’ve flown in and out of there many times… so I’m blaming the screw up on Ryan Air!

  6. Pingback: Guest Post: How to Pack for Living or Studying Abroad | ¡Hola Yessica!

  7. Some really nice tips there although I don’t see myself wearing all my clothes and risk a heat stroke. But it’s weird that they would charge so much for a boarding pass. I always print mine before I leave – it saves mcuh hassle later.

    • Yes, you do run the risk of getting rather overheated! 🙂

      I’m still appalled that they can charge so much for a boarding pass, but it does save hassle for everyone if you can just go straight to security.

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