Until Covid I would never have flown this low cost, I heard so many bad stories and the worst I was flying was Easyjet. I changed my mind on them during Covid, I was kind of force to use them because they were the most reliable ones in these difficult times, they maintained my flights and they were still flying between France and Poland.
The best combo to a better customer experience
Well first of all, Ryanair only uses 737-800 and the new Max 8. Despite the fear you might have regarding the Max with the two big accidents that happened in 2019, the plane has been grounded, re- engineered and re-certified everywhere except in China I believe. I was skeptical too but I can assure you that this plane is now thoroughly tested and safe to fly. Plus the experience as a passenger is much better, it’s much better in term of noise and even if it’s packed with almost 200 pax, it’s a good overall experience, minus the tiniest bathroom on Earth – Or in the SKY.
The vast majority of their planes have the sky interior, which is a ceiling made of led lighting, which is very zen IMO, they use blue lights during take off and landing and it’s just a nice touch. The rest of the flight with the whole service they are using a brighter light, but still it’s modern and nice. Their 737s are much better than for KLMs or Transavia’s ones.
With that many seats, space between seats is bad, but my best advice is to book systematically a seat on the exit row on the wings. First of all, the option is not expensive compared to other airlines like Transavia. And the fact that you are on this particular seats, means that all your belonging will have to be stored in the bin over your head. For security, a flight attendant will always close these bins and make sure that only passengers seating on these two rows of seats are putting their luggage in. Hence, you are guaranteed to have space over right over your head for your luggages.
The other plus that comes with the booking of this seat is that it comes with the option to have two bags on board, a standard cabin size 10kg and a smaller bag, which will both end up in the bin and not under the seat in front of you like all the other passengers have to do. It also comes with Priority Boarding by default.
Furthermore, I was never ever asked by any Ryanair personal to verify the weight of my bag or the size of it. Nothing was ever checked from them on this side, I mean as long as it’s a cabin size bag 55x40x20cm it’s all good.
The seat itself only default is that the armrest is not movable, and the tray table is in the armrest and often quite nasty. Outside of that, the leg space is amazing, I could almost compared it to the leg space you have in premium economy on Air France. You will of course need to say that you agree to open the emergency exit if necessary and listen to a little special briefing from the dedicated flight attendant.
I would not recommend the other seats with more leg rooms like the ones at the very front of the plane, sure there is less noise at the front but you will have the whole plane boarding right and passing next to you, the noise from the toilet and people waiting for it, and also the noise of the crew cooking and preparing stuff. The is also less leg room on the right side, since you have a big panel wall, on the left, plenty of space but you will have to share it with the crew..
Flight experience and timeliness
Ryanair has bad reputation for it’s kind of hard landings and horrible customer service. I want to say that this is not true. It might have been the case in the early days, but at least since Covid they improved a lot on every ways, you just have to know the rules because they will never warn you of anything until you have to pay extra for something you should have done.
Well, unlike other companies, Ryanair will never warn you that check-in before flight has open or anything. You will have to set an alarm or a reminder to do it a few days prior to your flight, their app is great, quite easy to use to just do it. The only little problem is that you have to not make any mistakes and you have to do it again and again even as a very frequent flyer. Forgetting to check-in before your flight will cost you a hefty fee €55 at the airport. OUCH!
Going to the airport
Since Ryanair is using secondary zone airports, you will probably need to reach it by transportation. For example, Paris Beauvais airport is 89km away. The best way is to use the Beauvais Shuttle, from Paris Porte Maillot to Beauvais airport, there are many many busses, and they recommend you to take one 3h before your flight. The bus will get there in about 70 min depending on traffic.
Make sure to book it on the official website: https://www.aeroportparisbeauvais.com/acces-et-parking/navette-aerobus-paris-aeroport/
Airport, security and ground personal
Beauvais airport for example doesn’t look like any airport you have ever seen. It’s just a big hangar, large enough to have 5 planes at the same time on its aprons. You can tell that they reduced the personal to it’s minimum, but with the recent crisis in personal all over Europe, in the end it’s not worse that anywhere else, and even faster since it’s a very small Terminal.
Ryanair ground personal will begin to separated priority boarding passengers and standard one roughly 30 min before the plane arrival. Once the plane arrives, passengers leave the plane and the whole operation of unloading, reloading and re-fueling begin. Usually a plane will be back in the air like 30 minutes later, it’s quite impressive, no other airline can do this like they do!!
Plane and pilots
It’s quite remarkable that only Ryanair to my knowledge opted for the retractable stairs on the 737 front door. They still need normal stair on the back door but it means they can possibly land anywhere and not need any crew on the ground, a bit like a private jet. 😇
Interesting fact, they seem to open the door before the staircase deploy, not sure if it’s some sort of security process to make sure the escape slides are de-armed.
Planes are flying all the time which is in my opinion a good thing, over the last year, I flew like 20 times with them and only one time we had to disembark because they had a technical issue with the plane. Luckily and nicely from them, their was another plane on the parking, they moved us to this other plane and we only had 2h delay which is remarkable compared to any other airline.
I heard their crew are freelancers, which could sound bad but in fact some pilots of national companies who wants to work and do extra hours, often end up flying for Ryanair since they allow more hours. I only had very professional pilots every time I flew with them, making nice little welcome anouncments.
Flying the 737-800 is not easy, it’s a very long plane and it somehow is hard to make it go down when you land, which kind of force them to put a little more force to make sure to touch down. I think this is why, passengers are often complaining of hard landings. In fact, the limit between a nice landing and a hard landing on this plane is really a matter of millimeters.
I recently flew into Beauvais with super heavy fog, and we landed perfectly fine, with a visibility under 60m. I also took off with quite a lot of wind, once again all went fine. I feel much better flying with a crew who flies a lot, than with a crew who fly from time to time.
Service and crew
The crew often very young and very dedicated into doing the full service. They will always do first the safety demonstration, then check on seatbelt. After take-off they will start distributing magazines with food and beverages and duty-free. Service will the begin, you can pay by card only since Covid, and there is a vast variety of food and drinks. They will always advertize on a lot of combos and discounts. And fun fact, Ryanair has a lottery program, so they will always offer you to buy games on board after serving food. You can tell the management is putting a lot of pressure on sales to passengers., As a frequent flyer, I always buy at least a drink or two to pay my respect to their dedication and hard work somehow. 🙂
You have to take into account that they often have to deal with heavy drinkers and difficult passengers so their job is not that fun. Groups going for bachelorette or over events book on these flights so yes it must be difficult.
There is a quite sad movie treating of this subject called “Rien à foutre” with Adele Exarchopoulos talking about the difficult dreams and life if these low cost airlines crews.
App and website
I would recommend you to use the app which is far more easy to use and had less spamming to sell you extras, or at least it’s easier to jump to the next page than on the website.
Flights are not refundable so make sure you book the right flight, or you will just lose it. I do regret not being able to tell them I won’t take my upcoming flights, I mean they could resell it at least.
They often advertize good prices and deals for the next summer, there is not loyalty program but somehow they seem to be applying small discount to my booking out of nowhere, not sure if it’s an algorithm or a bug but it works that way and they don’t advertize on this.
What I love with the app, is that I can use Apple Pay, which is not available on bigger airlines for example!!
I hope this will help you to navigate with them on your next flight, please do not hesitate to ask me questions or comments down below!