With tens of thousands of flights a year, a fleet of 272 planes and 44 hubs across Europe, Ryanair is the largest and cheapest airline in the Old World. Every service needs to be paid for separately, from the check-in to drinking water served during flight. This review describes a typical trip onboard Ryanair, going from Riga to Duesseldorf (Weeze Airport).
Buying the Ticket
Buying the ticket is easy enough, but you have to be careful when reading the fine print to make sure your purchase doesn’t include any unneeded services like luggage fees, cancellation insurance and other things you can live without. After selecting a date of departure and destination, I was given a list of the flights for the whole week, which made it easier to find the cheapest tickets.
When buying a ticket ahead of time you’ll sometimes get rates that are lower than the airport’s surcharges. Ryanair is proud of not imposing any fuel surcharges, often citing this in its commercials; “Say no to Lufthansa’s/British Airways’/etc. fuel surcharges”.
Note that Ryanair does charge other fees, including a fee for placing an online ticket order by credit card (6 euro for each leg of the flight, per passenger), and a fee for checking in online (6 euro per passenger).
At the Airport
Ryanair is fairly restrictive when it comes to luggage on its flights, imposing a 15-euro fee for one suitcase weighing up to 33 lbs (15 kg), 25 euro for a suitcase up to 44 lbs (20 kg), and 35 euro for a second suitcase). However, considering mine was only a 3-day trip, I made do with carry-on luggage.
Note that Ryanair has now stopped offering the option of checking in at the airport, and charges a fee for online check-in. This means that passengers must check in online, the cost of which is included in the ticket price, and print a boarding pass. If you forget or are unable to print it before arriving at the airport, you can get it printed there for 40 euro.
Ryanair saves money on everything, including transportation of passengers from the terminal to the plane, so the airline usually tries to get the airport to let them park the plane as close to the terminal as possible, and then has the passengers walk to the plane. There are two lines for boarding, one for priority and one for regular passengers.
Priority passengers have to pay 5 euro for the privilege of getting aboard the plane first and getting to choose their seats (Ryanair does not assign seats to passengers – first come, first serve). Having paid the priority fee, we were amongst the first aboard. I would guess that about a third of all the passengers paid for priority boarding too.
Carry-on Luggage on Ryanair Flight
Ryanair permits only one piece of carry-on luggage weighing up to 22 lbs (10 kg) and not exceeding dimensions of approximately 22x16x8” (55x40x20cm). Photo cameras, video cameras, a rolled up newspaper, a book, a coat, music players, a bag of Duty Free items and so on, are considered a piece of carry-on luggage.
Next to the boarding exit you can often find scales and measurement frames, which the company’s staff uses to check your carry-on luggage. If it exceeds the set parameters by even a little, you get fined 40 euro, and your carry-on is checked as luggage.
The crew on the flight was Polish. Greetings were given in broken English, without so much as a word in Latvian. Takeoff took place as scheduled. After circling over the Gulf of Riga, the Boeing-737-800 set course for Germany.
After attaining cruising altitude, the crew offered duty free merchandise, including lottery tickets, perfumes, souvenirs, watches. You could also buy food and drinks. The prices were steep: a sandwich cost 3 euro, a can of Coke was 1.5 euro. Payments could be made in cash as well as with credit card. The crew accepted both euros and Latvian lats.
During the flight, the pilots addressed the passengers a few times over the PA, giving us information on the altitude, speed and the cities we were passing over. The weather was clear and sunny, there was no turbulence except just before we reached the airport, when strong winds blowing from the side made the plane shake.
Arrival in Weeze Airport was also on time. This was driven home by Ryanair’s standard recorded announcement that they are one of the most punctual airlines in the world. The airport itself was a bit of a letdown, although is there really a lot to expect from a hub for budget airlines?
After leaving the terminal, we had a long road ahead of us to Duesseldorf. Weeze Airport is a former military airfield located 44 miles (70 km) away from the city. We hiked to the city of Weeze on foot, and from there took a train to Duesseldorf.
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