By Maya Kachroo-Levine
June 04, 2018
Ryanair plane
Credit: Getty Images

A favorite airline amongst study abroaders, Ryanair is the go-to airline for cheap flights around Europe. Ryanair is actually headquartered in Dublin, and their flights connect 37 countries, with more than 85 bases in Europe.

Although Ryanair is best known for cheap flights within Europe, they’ve branched out recently, partnering with Air Europa to provide service in the U.S. and South America as well. In July 2017, Ryanair actually became the first European airline to transport more than 12 million passengers in a month.

While Ryanair flights tend to be cheaper than a lot of the competition, they also require you to deal with a few more logistics, and that can lead to mixed reviews. Ryanair often flies out of the off-the-beaten-path budget airports, as opposed to the city’s main airports. This might mean you need to wake up a little earlier and get creative with your transportation schedule. But depending on the traveler, waking up half an hour earlier might be a small price to pay for the next-level flight deals you can score on Ryanair. (When I studied abroad, I flew last-minute from Paris to Milan for €9 — or about $10.50 USD — on Ryanair.)

Before you book your flight, it’s good to at least know what you’re getting into. We looked through tons of reviews to find you everything you need to know about flying on Ryanair — and whether the inexpensive airfare is worth it.

Can You Bring Carry-on Bags?

Yes, but size matters. If your bag is deemed too big to carry on, you’ll have to check it for a fee of 60 euros, says Lori Zaino of The Points Guy. “Ryanair’s acceptable size for carry-on baggage is 55 x 40 x 20 cm (21.7 x 15.7 x 7.9 in),” said Zaino.

When blogger Sebastien Canavas, of Off the Path, flies Ryanair, he keeps it affordable by bringing only a small carry on. “For weekend trips, I boughta bag that is accepted as a carry on by all airlines. [Ryanair] checked if my bag would fit into one of these standardized boxes. If it didn’t, they would have charged me another 40-50€ for checking my bag.”

Are There Hidden Fees?

The thing about €9 plane tickets is that sometimes €9 is the base price, rather than what the flight will actually cost you. After the ticket price, there are processing fees, which can add up. When you’re buying a Ryanair ticket, make sure you consider the price after fees, rather than the initial cheap price of a flight. You might find that even after the fees, Ryanair still offers the lowest price, in which case it’s still worth booking.

“Something I hated about the booking process was that you always have additional costs after you [select] a flight: 2€ passenger fee, 6€ web check-in, 12€ admin fee etc. At the end, I paid another 20€ [on top of] the actual price,” said Canavas.

If you don’t show up at the airport with a printed boarding pass, Ryanair will charge you. “If you need to both check in AND print the pass at the airport, you will have to pay the full 70€ fee – for a piece of paper!” according to Zaino.

If you show up at the airport already checked in, but you still have to print your boarding pass at the airport, then it costs 15€.

Does Ryanair Feel Like a Budget Airline?

Liam Burford says on TripAdvisor that Ryanair planes “are spotlessly clean with acceptable leg room.”

And that sentiment seems to be echoed through other TripAdvisor reviews. Missie98 says, “Cabin crew are always pleasant and willing to help with any issues you may have.”

For some, the legroom doesn’t exactly feel luxurious, but most agree that Ryanair's airplanes are clean, and the staff tends to be helpful. Andy S, who reviewed his “cheap flight to Spain” on TripAdvisor says, “Pretty basic service but inexpensive so cannot expect more. Staff were friendly and helpful. Drinks and food could be purchased during the flight. Legroom was poor but I'm not tall so that wasn't an issue for me.”

Lyn from Million Mile Secrets reports, “The best seats on Ryanair offer 40 inches of legroom while the cheapest seats offer up to 30 inches. We chose standard seats. We were all comfortable, even my husband, who is 6 feet 3 inches tall, on this under 2-hour flight and felt it was similar to flying on Southwest.”

Can We Sit Together?

Unfortunately, sitting together on Ryanair is pretty difficult. Even if you book tickets together, you are not guaranteed seats together.

“Everybody in our party was split up in seats from [rows] 10-20 in middle seats even when booked all at same time. Other people on the flight said the same, and some people said this is regular and if you want to sit next to each other, you pay even if [the] seats [are] available,” says TripAdvisor user Keith P.

Where Does Ryanair Fly Out Of?

Sometimes you have to fly out of the less-convenient airport in order to cash in on the cheap flight deals. It might not cost you more money, but it requires you to be a bit more on top of the flight logistics.

“The biggest downside for us in flying Ryanair was that their ‘Paris’ airport, Paris Beauvais, is an hour outside the city and not really in Paris. We had to take a special shuttle bus that runs from the main Paris bus station to the Beauvais airport for ~$19 per adult and ~$12 per child, which dropped us off at least a 10-minute walk from the airport. This all added time and cost, though it still was quicker and less expensive than our other options,” says Lyn.

What Do Non-EU Citizens Need to Know?

Non-EU citizens sometimes need to jump through an extra hoop on Ryanair. Again, it’s all about giving yourself some extra time so these caveats don’t slow you down.

“Non-EU citizens need to show their passport to the check in clerk and get their boarding pass stamped. This can be frustrating if you have a connecting flight. In my case I flew in from the US to London and had to go through customs, exit security, get my boarding pass stamped and then re-enter security before being able to catch a flight to Dublin,” Christine L. wrote on Yelp.

“And the app doesn't support non-EU folks to upload their boarding pass,” added Ron R. on Yelp. “Non-EU folks have to find a printer, waste paper, and print their own pass.”