Welcome to my guide to flying Ryanair, jam-packed full of Ryanair tips and hacks. Ryanair priority, Ryanair bag drop, Ryanair check in time, Ryanair bag drop, I’m going to walk you through all of it.
I love flying Ryanair. Always have, always will (yes, even now after the cancellation scandal). What’s not to love? They enable me to fly places with minimal cost. PERFECT! I’ve been on hundreds of Ryanair flights in my life to places like Denmark, UK and Portugal. No doubt I’ll have been on many more before the end of the year. And they’re so cheap that even if I change my plans, it’s no big deal to just miss the flight.
The thing is, lately, my patience is growing very thin with people complaining about how they didn’t check in online and had to pay to have their boarding pass printed at the desk. I mean, that isn’t nice, but it’s also completely your own fault. Stop playing the victim when in reality you actually just didn’t read the instructions. Honestly, who, in this day and age, does not know that they need to check in online?!
ANYWAY, I thought I’d put together a helpful GUIDE to flying Ryanair to make it a completely smooth flying experience for you. Hopefully this will open the eyes of some people to the merits of flying Ryanair. For those of you that don’t need a run through of the basics, just skip to the highlighted tips with the stars **.
EDIT – In light of recent flight cancellations affecting hundreds of thousands of passengers due to poorly planned pilot holidays, I must advise you that if your travel plans are strict and highly important than you might be better off (at the moment) to book with another airline. Read more here.
FYI – This post contains affiliate links.
Booking the Tickets
Ok, let’s talk basics. This may seem simple, but stick with me! There’s some stuff in here that you need to know. Go online, select your destination, dates and departure times. Now enter your details. You can select additional luggage at this point. Keep in mind you do get 10kg of hand luggage plus a handbag.
**TIP; Make sure you hand luggage fits the required dimensions of you’ll end up having to pay to have it as a check in bag.
*** EXTRA TIP; The price you pay for adding on check in luggage CHANGES depending on the time of day you book. So if it seems priceys (>£25 ish) do the same search a couple of hours later (after clearing your cookies) and see if it drops. I saved £10 this way recently.
There will be a travel insurance offer at some point. This one is tricky. You have to open the country list and scroll down to “Don’t insure me”.
If you’re travelling in a group, pay extra to select your seats, otherwise you will be randomly allocated seats and the odds are they won’t be together. Everyone hates the family that just assumed they’d all be sitting together, because heaven knows the rules just don’t apply to them. Then departure is delayed because someone needs to swap seats on a full flight so that little Jimmy can sit beside one of his disorganised parents. Not ideal.
**TIP; the seats in the first row of the plane have a lot more leg room, BUT the arm rests are set and cannot be lifted. The arm rests in these rows are usually a small divider between each sear instead of just an arm rest. SO, it leaves you with less room in the seat. If you have wide hips or are carrying a bit of extra weight, AVOID the front row of the plane. The seatbelts are a pretty generous size in Ryanair, but if you’re stuck you can ask for a seatbelt extender free of charge.
Then it’s vouchers, email address, phone number and payment. You can pay via PayPal now, which I love because I am genuinely too lazy to type in my card details every time. So lazy that I’m actually fine with paying the few pence extra to pay via PayPal. Once you’ve put in your payment details you’ll get brought to car hire and hotel booking screens. Just skip these. Then that’s it. You’re all booked. Your itinerary will be emailed to you. Woohoooo. You are now ready for flying Ryanair.
**TIP: If you’re planning on checking in a bag have a look at Ryanair’s new “business” option. I just booked a flight to the UK & I was dreading the charge for a check in bag. HOWEVER, the “business” fare was only £10 more than my regular ticket and included 20kg check in luggage, a pre-booked seat, and priority boarding! So it’s definitely worth it if you’re planning on checking in luggage.
Best Time to Check in for Ryanair
NOW, it has been brought to my attention that check in is slightly different for non-EU/EEA passengers. For non-EU/EEA passenger you have to go to the check in desk to get your documents checked before heading through security. Though you still need to check in online and have your printed boarding pass with you.
** My recommended Ryanair check in time is 2 hours before your flight if you’re non-EU/EEA. If you’re EU and have your boarding pass, then 1.5 hrs SHOULD be fine if it’s not high season and a busy airport. If it IS high season/a busy airport I would ALWAYS be there at least 2 hrs before hand. You can never predict what the security queue will be like.
For the rest of us it’s a little simpler. There are only two options. You either download the Ryanair app and get the boarding pass on there for free OR you check in online and print the boarding pass for free. Either way you MUST check in online/via the app AT LEAST 4hrs before your departure. Otherwise you will incur an airport check in fee of around £45 (Yeeeahhhh, I know, this is what everyone keeps complaining about, easily avoided though, right?!).
If you have to check in a bag then you might want to give yourself a little bit of extra time depending on the airport. In some airports (Dublin, Bristol etc) they have Ryanair bag drop, the machine where you can tag your own bag and just drop it at the counter. This is A LOT quicker than everyone queuing up to have their bags tagged by one or two members of staff. But if the airport you’re departing from doesn’t has these machines, and it’s the peak of summer, the best time to check in would be about 2-2.5hrs before your flight.
Ryanair will ALWAYS, without fail, send you a reminder text/email to check in online before your flight. They WANT you to check in. Just do it. It’s that simple.
Ryanair Priority and the Hand Luggage Rules
UPDATED – New Rules as of November 1st. Ryanair priority has recently become more popular due to the new hand luggage regulations. If you add priority to your booking you get to bring both of your 2 items of free hand luggage on board. If you don’t add priority to your booking then you may only big one small piece of hand luggage on board for free. You may purchase an add on for a 10kg check in bag which you must drop at the bag drop or check in desk, just like a normal larger check in bag. You’ll have to pick it up from the luggage carousel/baggage claim after passport control. Buying the add on for the 10kg check in bag actually works out more expensive than paying the €6.00 for priority (which includes two bags, one of which can be up to 10kg). SO, just buy priority and don’t worry about anything. You can add on priority to your booking up to a few hours before flying for around €6.00. OR, if you want a check in bag as well as priority it might be worth paying more for the Ryanair Plus fare which includes 20kg of luggage, a reserved seat and priority check in. Is it worth it? Personally, I like paying the extra for Ryanair priority boarding so that I don’t have to stand in line when everyone rushes towards the gate. I can just sail up to the priority queue and still be one of the first on board, meaning that I grab the space in the overhead locker right above my seat for my bag.
OK, so Ryanair is kind of notorious for its long queues WAAYYYY before anyone has even mentioned boarding. However, nowadays seats are assigned , so you don’t need to be near the top of the queue in order to get your seat. You have your seat assigned once you’ve checked in and that’s that. If you followed my TOP TIP then you’ll have priority and then you really don’t need to queue. So, honestly, that’s the best option. EASY! At this stage I hope you’re beginning to see that flying Ryanair doesn’t have to be so stressful.
However, there is ONE good reason to queue for boarding with Ryanair. The overhead luggage space fills up VERY quickly with a lot of people using those mini suitcases as hand luggage. So if you’re at the end of the queue for boarding you will often find that your bag will end up at the opposite end of the plane to where you’re sitting OR they’ll put it in the luggage hold. However, it has been brought to my attention that they will only ever ask passengers with mini suitcases to put their hand luggage in the hold. So if you just have a soft rucksack or something like that then there’s no risk of that. I recommend this bad boy by Eastpak. It still looks professional and can be a backpack OR a wheely case.
ALSO, the first 90 passengers can ask for their hand luggage to be checked on board for free. In some airports you can do this at the bag drop section before security. In others they won’t allow you do it until boarding (which I don’t really see the benefit of at all). I used to avail of this all the time when you could do it at the bag drop in Dublin as it made life a lot easier. No taking liquids out, or laptops during security as I just checked them all in. However, last time I asked for this service at Dublin bag drop they said I could only do it before boarding, which is pointless. So I stopped trying for a while. However, I did it when I was flying Ryanair from Nottingham airport and it was very convenient. If you do opt for this, make sure your bag is 10kg or less.
**TIP: Before you get on board, check your boarding pass to see whether you need to go in the front or back door of the airplane. Ryanair boarding passes will always give you a specific instruction on which door to use. This could save you a lot of time. There is nothing worse than being at the front of the plane and realising your seat is at the tail of the plane, fighting your way through the aisle when you could have just gone in the back door.
Once you’re on board there’s basically nothing to worry about. Personally, I bring my own snacks if the flight is long enough to warrant it. I never buy anything on a plane unless I’m desperate. Then that’s it, you’re off on your travels with a lot more spending money!! You’ll even get a round of applause when you land!!
Hopefully some of you have found this useful, even if you do frequently fly Ryanair already. I kind of hope this converts some of you to flying Ryanair too. They really are GRAND once you just stick to their rules, which are kind of minimal these days anyway.
EDIT – They have increased the amount of legroom on their planes. I’m 5 ft 8in and I have plenty of legroom. Only if you are incredibly tall (over 6ft 3in I’d say) might you struggle with legroom.
Have you got any tips for flying Ryanair?
Leave them in the comments below!
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