How to Book a Flight on Ryanair and Avoid Hidden Fees

Flying on Ryanair is often one of the cheapest ways to fly point-to-point in Europe.  However, the major complaint people always have regarding Ryanair is their never-ending pursuit of ancillary revenue — they nickel and dime the passenger for seemingly everything.  After all, Ryanair is the airline that infamously once tried to charge for use of the toilet, and has floated the idea of standing room only seats on its aircraft, just to fit more passengers onboard.  Another major complaint about Ryanair is the somewhat predatory booking process on their website.    Though the website has a much friendlier user interface than it used to, the booking process can be downright cumbersome!

Ryanair B737-800 at Kerry, Ireland (KIR)

Ryanair B737-800 at Kerry, Ireland (KIR)

This post is meant to walk you through the booking procedure with Ryanair, so you can avoid accidentally paying for extra things that you don’t want!  Once you successfully do this, Ryanair can fly you for really, really cheap within Europe.  I had a decent flight with them last May from Venice-Treviso to Dublin, and again a few weeks ago from County Kerry, Ireland to London-Stansted.   

1.  Visit the Ryanair Website

To book travel, visit Ryanair’s website at www.ryanair.com  For simplicity’s sake, I will search for a flight similar to what I just took with Ryanair — a one-way flight from Kerry, Ireland to London-Stansted.Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 11.48.00 PM

2.  Pick the date that works for you

For purposes of this exercise, I will pick an arbitrary date in June.Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 11.48.13 PM

3.  Notice on the right that it will cost you a 2% fee to book by credit card

Select whichever method you’re comfortable with and click “continue”Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 12.05.15 AM

4.  Enter your name

Duh.

5.  Choose assigned seats if you’d like

In this case, it costs €5.99 for an assigned seat, €10.99 for a “Premium” Seat or exit row, and €15 for a front row, “Premium Seat.”  Priority boarding is included with the “Premium” seat, and with the long queues that often build up with Ryanair flights, it’s not a bad idea.  Interestingly enough, extra leg-room, exit-row seats cost the same as “premium” seats, so I would recommend on selecting one of those if you choose to pay for a seat assignment.  I’ve sat in both seats 1C and 17D on Ryanair flights, and I actually prefer the exit row – row 17.  If you choose not to pick an assigned seat, you will be automatically assigned one by the airline.  If you’re traveling with someone, or with children, it maybe best to pick seats to ensure that you’re seated together.

On my last flight, from Kerry to Stansted, I did not pay for a seat assignment and was assigned a seat back in row 22.  However, after the doors closed, the flight attendant asked if we would move to the exit row, as they wanted somebody sitting in every exit row — I happily obliged.  I consider this “The Ryanair Upgrade”!Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 12.06.14 AM

 

Plenty of leg room in row 1

Plenty of leg room in row 1 (Seat 1C)

The Exit Row - seat 18D on a Ryanair B737-800

The Exit Row – seat 17D on a Ryanair B737-800

6.  Select your Travel Insurance Preference

I never select this option.  However, Ryanair hides the “Don’t Insure Me” option in the middle of the drop-down list.  It’s really petty, but that’s what they do!Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 3.36.43 PM

7.  If you’re checking bags, you’re going to want to pay for it earlier rather than later

Select “Add” and then choose your baggage selection.  Please note that it is NOT possible to pay for a bag that weighs more than 20kg.  You MUST pay for two bags if your bag weight more than 20kg.  I experienced this frustration once on a flight with Ryanair, and boy was it an obnoxious experience!

Though their policy states that you can buy up to two bags for a maximum combined weight of 35kg, no single bag can be in excess of 20kg — at least that’s the way the policy was enforced at Treviso Airport.Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 3.38.00 PM

Cabin bags are permitted to be up to 10kg, and if they’re deemed over-sized by the gate agent, they will not just gate-check them for free like US airlines.  They will gate-check your bag after charging you €50! Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 3.40.01 PM

8.  Ryanair charges €2.49 for a SMS text for flight details

Really?   No, thanks.  This is a service that US airlines provide for free.  I prefer not to light my money on fire.Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 3.46.49 PM

9.  Navigate through the barrage of parking, transfers, and sport/musical/baby equipmentScreen Shot 2014-06-06 at 3.47.01 PM

10.  Say “no” to rental car sponsored by Hertz

(unless you want it)Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 3.48.21 PM

11.  Same goes with hotels, powered by Booking.com

I can usually find a better rate on my own.Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 3.49.43 PM

12.  It’s not over yet — you could PLAY to WIN!

Or not… it sneakily adds a €2 charge to your account if you choose to PLAY to WIN.  In perusing the Terms & Conditions, it’s interesting to note that the user may be charged anywhere between 1 and 10 euros to PLAY to WIN… wow!  And they only pick one winner per week — this is the largest airline in Europe, people — those odds just ain’t that great.

But don’t worry — if you’re in the gambling mood when your flight rolls around, you’ll have the chance to purchase a scratch-off “Play to Win” ticket onboard!  How’s that for inflight entertainment?

Play to Win?  Sounds like a great idea!

Play to Win? Sounds like a great idea!

There's a fee to play?  Sneaky!

There’s a fee to play? Sneaky!

PLAY to WIN's T&C's -- they can charge you anywhere between 1-10 euros!

PLAY to WIN’s T&C’s — they can charge you anywhere between 1-10 euros!

13.  Don’t Get Ripped Off with Foreign Exchange Rates

Once you put in your contact and payment info, check out the text that says,

“Your debit/credit card will now be charged 24.28 USD (20.39 EUR) Click here for more information, on our guaranteed exchange rate.”  

Call me crazy, but the foreign exchange rate sounds a bit off.  I’ll click for more info, thank you!Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 11.51.08 PM

 

14.  Click “more information” on the Foreign Exchange Rate

You will see that Ryanair is doing you the favor of royally screwing you in your foreign exchange rate.  They are charging a rate of $1.19USD: €1  when the going rate is $1.12USD:  €1.  This means Ryanair is basically screwing you by 7%!  I know this is smallish purchase, but if your ticket was hundred of dollars, this will really add up.

But the current f(x) rate is…

sdf

Currently, 20.39 euro should trade for $22.75 — not $24.28 as Ryanair is trying to charge!

15.  Un-check the box in the disclaimer to Avoid the Bad f(x) rate

You usually get the best rate if you just let your credit card / bank do the conversion for you since it will be billing in euros.  If you have a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees, you’re good to go.  If your card or bank DOES charge foreign transaction fees, it’ll likely cost you around 3% — still less than this bad exchange rate that’s proposed by Ryanair.

Uncheck this Box

Uncheck this Box

16.  Review your charges Carefully

Make sure that your summary indicates what you actually booked.  If you didn’t mean to add any extras, there shouldn’t be any extras on the summary.Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 12.01.41 AM

17.  Finally — Book the darned thing!

Me on Ryanair!

Book it!

18.  Important reminder

You MUST check-in online AND print out your boarding pass PRIOR to arriving at the airport.  You are able to do this up to 30 days prior to your flight.  Failure to do so results in either a €70 check-in fee at the airport or at €15 “boarding card re-issue fee” at the airport.  Seriously.Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 4.10.07 PM

As long as you are aware of these extra potential fees on Ryanair’s website, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem booking your ticket.  After all, their tickets are many times exponentially less expensive than the next cheapest option.  If you master the caveats of their booking process, you can really travel cheaply within Europe on Ryanair — it’s really not that bad.  I actually find it a completely acceptable way to fly around Europe on the cheap!IMG_0954

 

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