I have used the so-called “budget airlines” a lot. Living in Europe, the fares got so good that I went away every chance I had. In Asia, there are budget airlines, but they’re not as “budget” as airlines in Europe. Airlines like EasyJet, Vueling, Berlin Airlines and Ryanair helped me to visit every country in Western Europe, and most of Eastern Europe. Just because I used them doesn’t mean I liked them. In fact, they were some of the worst flights I have every taken. The winner (by far) of the worst European budget airline is Ryanair.
First off, Ryanair uses the colors blue and yellow. They do not go together and are a horrendous palate to have to look at during a flight. I think the colors make me physical ill, and slightly angry, to the point where I am visibly upset when sitting in a Ryanair flight. Even the orange and black (Halloween) colors of EasyJet are easier to stomach than the blue and yellow. The seats are closer together than on other airlines, so they can add another row and make more money. This means that the seats have been permanently forbidden from reclining. This also means, for large people such as me, that you’re never getting that tray table down.
And why would you want to get the tray table down? Nothing is served onboard, except if you pay for it. And pay for it, you do. The food and beverages on Ryanair are so exorbitantly priced that I no longer blame people for bringing their own food on the flight (a supposed subject of a future blog post). There is no entertainment aside from watching everyone try to ram their overpacked and oversized “carry-on” into the overhead compartments. Then , the spectacle continues when the airplane runs out of overhead space and people are asked to “gate-check” their bags. It serves them right for being late to get on the plane. These are also the people who make you have to get up and allow them into the middle seat next to you, because there are no other aisle or window seats left.
The reason for all the commotion is the Ryanair seating policy (or lack, thereof). People get in line at the gate, and wherever you are in line, that’s how you enter the plane. You can take any seat as you enter except those in the exit or first rows (those are for people who pay more). People can’t board the flight, as this causes a slow down because people vie for the first rows of seats and leave the later rows for the later people. So, everyone is stuck waiting for that old Italian woman, who’s trying to sit in the 3rd row, to lift her oversized and overweight carry-on into the overhead compartment and then set herself up with her purse, make-up, book, iPod etc. Before she gets out of the aisle and out of everyone’s way. This “cattle call” embarkation often causes Ryanair flights to depart late and, therefore, arrive late.
Ryanair also charges for EVERYTHING! Only carry-on luggage is allowed, or else you have to pay for the luggage. Water and coffee are not free, they cost a surprisingly large amount. Seats are small and cramped, the number of bathrooms has been reduced to accommodate more paying customers and make more money for the airline. In fact, Ryanair was toying with charging flyers to pay to use the restrooms. This has be the stupidest idea ever.
I have flown the budget airlines many times. I will always choose an EasyJet flight over a Ryanair flight. If they are going to the same place, EasyJet it is! This is even the most expensive one, but it’s more convenient……