Here’s a review I have never expected to write. Why? Let’s just say that Ryanair didn’t exactly make my “must fly” airlines list. And for good reasons: I’ve heard so many stories of things going the wrong way that I didn’t know where to start to have a decent experience.
Researching our wedding anniversary trip this year (n.a. 2017), I quickly realized that the best way for us (and not necessarily the cheapest) was to fly Budapest – Athens – Budapest on…yes, exactly, Ryanair. The flights were at decent hours and the fare was acceptable.
It took me some time to figure out how to “unlock” the 30-days online check in. Yes, you can add it as a “bundle” (checked luggage+ seat) but we never check a luggage. A useless chat later and some plowing through the terms and service and I figured it out.
So here are two very useful tips for you:
- choose and pay for your preferred seat at the time of booking to unlock the 30-days online check in
- pay for priority boarding so you are not asked to put your carryon on hold (for free) if the flight is full.
Why should you pay for these? Well, we were on an island for the most time and the internet was bad. Let alone we weren’t keen on trying to find a place to print out boarding passes so we did need the 30-days online check in. As for the carryon, we travel with our gear (camera, action camera, power banks) and we don’t want that checked. Ever.
As per their information, only the first 90 wheelie bags are guaranteed to make the overhead bin, so you are encouraged to pay for priority boarding. We do travel with a backpack but still opted for priority boarding.
As part of the base ticket you get:
- a cabin bag which cannot be bigger than 40 x 55 x 20 cm
- a personal item which cannot be bigger than 35 x 20 x 20 cm (laptop bag, purse, day pack)
- check in opens 4 days before the flight
- choice of seat at check in
Want to compare this with other airlines? If you want the personal item on WizzAir, you have to pay for priority boarding. And if you want a similar cabin bag, you have to pay for it, as the free one is a lot smaller. Last we flew EasyJet (2012), you were allowed only one cabin bag and no personal item.
Once I figured out the online check in situation, the booking process was really easy.
When online check in opened, I made sure to do it and print out our boarding passes. As a backup, I also installed the app (and our boarding passes were available there, too).
On the day of the flight, we made it to the airport with a lot of time to spare, of course. Everything was totally fine, except that airports love to put low-cost carriers in terminals which take a lot of time to get to. Or shall I say, a lot of walking?
The weather was quite weird when we left Budapest (May 19) and landed on a very windy Athens. So yes, there were some small turbulences. But the pilots were excellent and we felt safe.
By the way: I never expected to have decent leg room! Seriously. We’ve flown BlueAir, EasyJet, and WizzAir before and we have felt cramped. Now we did not. Yes, Ryanair has modified a bit the seating arrangement so that there is more leg room!
On the way back from Athens (May 28), we were rather shocked to see how long it took us to walk to the “new” terminal building built for low –cost carriers. Oh, and there were no announcements at all. Just the screens showing a “range” of gates (A30-43). By the time boarding opened, they showed two gates only so we knew the direction we should head to.
It was raining cats & dogs in Athens when we left so we really took advantage of our priority boarding as we literally ran on the tarmac and were first to board the plane. In spite of the rainy departure, the flight was smooth.
All in all, we had a lovely experience which I did not expect. Maybe the fact that we approached the flights with low expectations made us enjoy it. Either way, we won’t shy away from flying Ryanair again.
Use this widget to search for their flights:
Budapest – Athens , 2 Aug , from 32119 HUF / 104 EUR
Timisoara – Milan Bergamo, 1 Aug, from 16.99 EUR
Athens – Santorini, 5 Aug, from 34.71 EUR
*at the time the article was written