Today I took what will probably be my last Ryanair flight in at least a couple years. It’s been probably the single most transformative thing I’ve been through in my whole trip through Europe, which is why I decided to write this in the hoped of giving you an idea of what The Ryanair Experience is like.
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The Ryanair Experience does not begin upon boarding the plane. It doesn’t even begin when you reach the airport.
No, it all starts when you’re home trying to book your flights a few months early.
You’ve found flights at very low fares that work for you, and gone on to check-out. Just €40, that’s fantastic!
They offer you the option to add luggage, at a fee. “No need,” you think. You’ve prepared for this, and know that because you’re flying through Ryanair, you’re only going to bring your purse and a small carry-on bag to last you the three full weeks you’ll be away.
You proceed to the next step. They offer you the option to choose your seat when you check-in, at a fee. You pass on the offer, and continue so you can just pay.
Except you can’t, because they have about a dozen different add-ons to sell you on, which will all add up to €400 euros, probably, if you chose them all. This is your introduction to what Ryanair will be like.
You get to the airport and start to head for the security check, except no, you have to go talk to the people at the drop-off desk for large luggage, even though you’re only travelling with a carry-on.
You start to look for the desk, but can’t find it. A quick glance at the screen stating which desk they’re at, followed by a glance at the airport’s signage tells you it’s just down the hall. So you walk.
Your progress is slowed down by the uncomfortable bag you’re struggling to carry. It weighs just under 10 kg (per Ryanair’s strict guiding) so that’s not too bad, but it also has no wheels, as it’s the only luggage bag you had that fit Ryanair’s aforementioned strict guidelines. You left a lovely wheeled bag at home because the wheels on it made it one or two cm too wide.
You read stories online of people paying a €50 fee for being a couple centimetres over. You’re a smart cookie. You’re not going to fall for that.
You finally find the check-in desk, right at the arse-end of nowhere. You’ve had to walk past a few dozen other desks, practically to the other side of the airport, and down some half-hidden stairs to an underground area that almost feels sketchy, it’s so empty.
The lady at the check-in desk stamps your boarding pass and you go on your way. Oh, that’s another thing. You NEED to have your boarding pass printed. You can’t just show them the barcode on your phone, no. How else would they charge people who didn’t know they HAD to check-in ahead of time and print out the boarding pass?
You go through security, wait at the gate, and queue up near the front to make sure your carry-on bag doesn’t get sent down to the baggage hold when they run out of room for the carry-on bags. Not if. When.
You anxiously eye your bag. You’ve been careful to follow their size and weight requirements. You’ve been carrying this uncomfortable bag just to comply. Surely when they check it, everything will go right.
Well, kind of. Everything does go all right, except they never check the bag size and weight. They won’t do it for your next Ryanair flight either. Or the one after that.
You ask a friend and she says they seldom do. Except when they do check, of course, they are really, really strict.
Essentially, Ryanair doesn’t REALLY care about bags being the right size. They don’t even care as much about getting money from careless people. No, what they want most of all is to live with uncertainty about whether you’ll be okay, or not. They want you to be anxious and worried. They want you in The Fear Zone.
You get on the plane, past the overwhelming sea of yellow seats, off-yellow walls, and find your seat.
Phew. All right, you’re on the plane. No more fucking add-ons, no hassle with the baggage. Just, the flight.
No, now as you try to relax on the six hour flight from Krakow to Gran Canaria, your rest is interrupted constantly by the flight attendants making announcements. Are you about to hit turbulence? Is there an issue?
No, of course not. They just need to tell you that they’re going to walk around with a little magazine showing all the different things they’ll try and peddle you. “You can buy chicken nuggets, chips, or chicken and ham panini.”
You ignore the announcement and refuse the magazine. Now they’ll leave you alone. Haha, no. Now they’ll interrupt just a few minutes later to say they’ll be walking around with the food cart, and once again remind you you can buy chicken nuggets, chips, or chicken and ham panini.
After a little while, they try to peddle you not chicken nuggets, chips, or chicken and ham panini, but also perfume, phone chargers, and liquor.
No, thank you.
A few hours have gone by, and you’re feeling a bit thirsty. You call for a flight attendant, and when one shows up, you ask for some water. Except… On a hunch, you just double check whether it’s free.
It’s not. Of course it’s not. You consider going without the water, but there are a few hours to go and you are really thirsty. So you pay €3 and try to drink in small sips.
*DING* the announcement bell goes off again. Christ, what are they going to sell now? Nail polish? Underwear??
No, of course not. That would be tacky. Instead, the flight attendant cheerfully announces you can buy a €2 scratch card!
What’s more, just for today because we’re so lucky, they’re having a two-for-one sale, so if you pay for one scratch card, you actually get two. If you pay for seven, you get seven more!
They will repeat the same special offer on every single other Ryanair flight you take.
Eventually, the plane starts to land. No more chicken nuggets, chips, or chicken and ham panini, no more perfume, no more €2 scratch cards. It’s over. Finally.
The plane touches down, and eventually rolls to a halt. You start to breathe a sigh of relief, but it’s cut short when the speakers start to play a little fanfare sound. This is apparently a cue for people to half-heartedly start applauding. And somehow, Ryanair playing a fanfare to themselves sums up the classiness that is Ryanair really well.