The first I had ever heard of RyanAir was when my husband read a book about it. A book is one thing, but the experience is another. Every hyperlink in this post will link to a separate, useful RyanAir page (until they change their URLs, that is). When I say separate, I mean that if I am talking about traveling with an infant and there are eight links in that paragraph, they each direct you to a separate policy within RyanAir’s site. It’s a lot to take in, but it is wise to read all of the policies pertaining to your situation.
The airline itself has so many policies and fees that I am in awe of whoever keeps it organized. The cheap fares have taxes and fees that sneak in a punch at the end, and that everything was priced á la carte. If you are only going to read one page of RyanAir’s website, read their table of fees.
Having experienced the stress not knowing the rules can bring to a traveler, I want to share what RyanAir’s site states on all their various rules, terms, and conditions pages so you don’t have to go hunting around to learn the basics about how to happily travel on this airline. Since rules change, I am linking to every related page I can find so you can find it faster. This also means that if I say something in my post and RyanAir contradicts it, trust the RyanAir site.
Here is a list of survival tips if you are planning to fly on RyanAir…
When you make the reservation, you select whether you will check in online and/or check a piece of luggage. If you do not select the accurate options for your situation at that time, it will cost you more to do it later. Be sure you reserve your ticket in the name on your photo identification. Book your RyanAir flight with RyanAir directly (or make sure your business’ travel office/agent does so). Booking through a site, such as Expedia or the like can void your ticket. I don’t understand it, but I’ve heard of it happening. Because RyanAir is a self-proclaimed ‘point-to-point’ airline, you cannot book a connecting flight using their reservations options.
2) ONLINE CHECK-IN
To check-in online you must have a specific form of ID. Who can check in online? Bottom line is that if you are an American citizen you probably don’t have the documentation and need to shell out the extra money to check in at the airport. Now, there is currently a way to petition for reimbursement of the check-in fee if you had to use airport check-in because you do not have the necessary EU/EEA identification. Any other reason for airport check-in does not have this refund option. More information is detailed in the section, 3b) Airport Check-In Fee Refunds.
3a) AIRPORT CHECK-IN
Airport check-in is available for a fee up to 40 minutes prior to the scheduled departure of your flight. They recommend two hours. RTE reported that RyanAir plans to do away with the airport check-in option later in 2009.
3b) AIRPORT CHECK-IN FEE REFUNDS
Getting the fee refunded…According to a page within RyanAir’s FAQs, if a passenger is unable to use online check-in solely because he or she does not posses either a valid EU/EEA passport or an EU/EEA-issued National ID Card (Guarda-issued residency certificates do NOT count), any airport check-in fee paid will be refunded upon application. An application must be requested separately when checking in and may only be available at select airports. Be sure to get receipts for your check-in fees. If you are traveling with someone who does possess the necessary paperwork to use online check-in that person’s airport check-in charge is not refundable.
4) CARRY-ON & CHECKED LUGGAGE
RyanAir’s one carry-on rule means ONE BAG ONLY - not one carry-on and a purse or laptop. RyanAir does not offer bag checking at the gate. If you show up at the gate with two carry-on items you will probably be turned away. Leave a wee bit of extra space in your one and only carry-on bag in case you buy anything at the airport. Everything you bring with you on your trip has a related charge EXCEPT for the one carry-on item and a mobility device or children’s buggy. Other than those items, there is a fee for checking luggage, particularly excess luggage, and you must deposit the baggage at the appropriate desk no later than 40 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time of the flight. The checked baggage allowance policy details the weight and dimensions permitted.
Whether carrying on or checking, be aware of RyanAir’s carry-on restrictions and packing guidelines. Other policies related to items you may want to travel with: Food; Parachute; Avalanche Rescue Pack; Alcoholic beverages; Life jacket; Musical instruments; Bicycle or sports equipment; Rugby balls or footballs; Wedding dresses.
5) OVERCOATS & BOARDING/SEATING
Wear your coat until you are actually on the plane in case they consider this a separate carry-on item. Passengers do not receive a seat assignment (like Southwest Airlines), just board and find a spot. They offer Priority Boarding for purchase when you book your flight.
6) INFANTS & EXPECTANT MOTHERS
New and expectant parents, I suspect traveling with a child is a true test of your patience, but particularly under these circumstances. Parents, be aware of their carriage of infants policy, which states you cannot use online check-in and any infant 8 days to 23 months must be accompanied by an adult over 16 years of age and only one such infant per one such adult (1:1 ratio). Meaning, if you have twins you need to bring someone else to travel with you and the little duo. Any infant 24 months or more must have his or her own full-fare ticket. Their infant equipment policy and separate car/booster seat policy state that one collapsable buggy (aka stroller) is permitted for free, but read the fine print carefully. Car seats are not permitted for use on board the aircraft. If you are pregnant, feel special because they even have a policy about expectant mothers. RyanAir requires infant passengers be at least eight days old in their newborn baby policy. They prohibit an extra seat being purchased for infants. They have a page of fine print regarding unaccompanied minors.
7) PHYSICAL AND MEDICAL DISABILITIES
If you have mobility issues or special needs when traveling, review the following policies, look on their website for specific information regarding your needs, and notify RyanAir of your condition or special request.
Policies: EC Regulation 1107/2006; Assistance dogs; Portable Dialysis Machine; Post-op and travelers with medical conditions; Bringing your own oxygen (prohibited); Portable oxygen concentrator; In-flight oxygen; Syringes; Wheelchair or mobility scooter; RyanAir-supplied wheelchair.
RyanAir does not provide meals as part of its in-flight service, but they usually have food or beverages available for purchase. They have information for passengers with an allergy to peanuts. They permit passengers to bring their own food so long as it stays within their carry-on food policy.
9) ITINERARY CHANGES
As with any airline, it costs to change any part of a flight itinerary. This can be more complicated if you have to change your travel insurance. It is best to read up on RyanAir’s date/time/route change cost; changing the date/time/route (this is a different page than the previous link); name change cost (only possible if no portion of the itinerary has taken place). They have specific information if you need to change your itinerary due to a death in your family.
10) EVERYTHING ELSE
There are so many policies and nuances to their service that I cannot cover everything, but hope this has given you an overview of some of the basics as well as some of the more obscure things you may wish to know. The search feature on the RyanAir site is easy to use (top left). Here are a few more links to help you find out about flight status; in-flight use of a mobile phone, PDA, or PED.
Don’t assume anything. Slán Abhaile.