Thursday, July 11, 2013

Easyjet vs. Ryanair - Which Airline Do I Prefer?

Sure, we all want a good deal. But money-saving experiences shouldn't be accompanied by unpleasantness. My recent European journey where I relied on the budget airlines easyjet and Ryanair (for flights to and from Lisbon, Madrid and Budapest) was a lesson in contrasts. Read on to find out which airline came out on top.

If you're not carrying an EU passport, despite your online boarding pass, you can't proceed directly to security unless you have your boarding pass stamped after showing your passport to Ryanair personnel. This resulted in up to an hour of wasted time. In some airports there's a dedicated line for this and in other airports you have to get in a line (or a disorganized crowd) of people who are also checking luggage -- which I'm not.  Once the Ryanair counter opened, it was a stampede.

Carry-on luggage can't weigh more than 22 pounds and it has to fit into what I consider a small metal template measuring 21.6" x 15.7" x 7.8". (I saw many a savvy traveler trying to stuff their already-slim bag into this sizer at the gate.) This wasn't a problem for me with my ultra petite backpack. (Just remember that with both Ryanair and easyjet, a purse or laptop bag counts as your one piece of luggage.)

Since there's no assigned seating, chaos reigns once you get on board, with passengers saving multiple seats -- it's like going to a movie in Manhattan the night a blockbuster opens -- and the rest rushing to get either the desired window or aisle. On one flight, this left five children in a family separated from each other and from their parents. The flight attendants finally took pity and relocated them together just as we were about to taxi down the runway.

The flight attendants, who didn't seem like a happy bunch, didn't budge to help anyone around me place their slim bags in the overhead bin. In fact, they looked like they had all run out of anti-depressants a month ago.

The interior of the plane is garishly blanketed with ads. It's like you're flying a billboard.

Don't expect any seat pocket to place your book or other items you'd like to have easy access to.


After checking in online and printing my boarding pass, I went directly to the gate at the airport. (I had no luggage to check and easyjet doesn't have any of this boarding pass stamping nonsense.)

easyjet doesn't dictate the weight limit for carry-ons. It also subscribes to the more standard dimensions for cabin luggage, which is 22" x 17.7" x 9.8". And they just announced their guaranteed cabin bag dimensions (19.7" x 15.7" x 7.9") which means if the overhead bin fills up and the flight attendants have to start remove bags that will have to be checked, yours won't be one of 'em.

easyjet has seat pockets with their informative magazine and the interior is not all about ads.

The flight attendants were ultra pleasant, going out of their way to help passengers with bags and other matters.

The bottom line: I hope to never fly Ryanair again, unless I'm desperate. (And maybe not even then.)

19 comments:

Bill Harby said...

My wife and I have refused to fly EasyJet (which we now call DifficultJet) since a terrible experience in Paris. Because of a horrendous traffic jam around Orly airport, we arrived at the gate only 5 minutes before departure, and were initially happy to see that our plane would be late departing, and it was still at the gate. However, we were not allowed to board because we hadn't arrived at least 30 minutes before departure -- this is an EasyJet rule. There were 8 or 9 other passengers there also, arguing with the EasyJet personnel to be allowed on, but the EasyJet people said no, and that we would have to purchase new tickets to go out the next day. One of the passengers was a very pregnant woman who had a note from her doctor saying that the last day she was permitted to fly was that day. EasyJet refused to let her board. We ended up taking the train the next day, at additional cost. I wrote complaining to EasyJet several times and never received any reply except that they would check on what happened. EasyJet has a terrible reputation for customer service, so I'm happy you were fortunate in your experience.

Cathy Sweeney said...

I can't comment about Ryanair since I haven'b flown them, but I've flown EasyJet twice recently. Berlin to Budapest and Bari, Italy to Milan. Both trips were good. We paid a little extra to get more leg room, but it was worth it. Flight attendants super nice. Whole process was smooth.

Jeanine Barone said...

Hi Bill, What a mess. I'm so sorry you and your wife had to endure all that trouble.

Jeanine Barone said...

Hi Cathy, Glad it all worked out for you. Hope you enjoyed Budapest. I did.

Brette said...

I have heard bad things about both of these airlines. Airline travel is bad enough on the major carriers. I avoid these at all cost.

merr said...

I've not heard of either airline, but was interested in what you and those who wrote in the comments had to say.

Sheryl said...

Sounds like a totally horrific experience on Ryanjet. Glad your other experience on Easyjet was more pleasant.

Vera Marie said...

So far I've avoided the bargain basement flights in Europe. Too bad they don't have Southwest.

ruth pennebaker said...

All right, you've convinced me -- I'll never ever fly Ryanair.

Jeanine Barone said...

Hi Brett, I know what you mean. It's often true that you get what you pay for.

Jeanine Barone said...

Hi Sheryl, Every time I went to the airport for a Ryanair flight, I was anxious, worried what issues were going to creep up.

Jeanine Barone said...

Hi Vera Marie, It's interesting that I've actually never had the opportunity to fly Southwest.

Jeanine Barone said...

Hi Ruth, yes, as I said, I'm hoping to never use Ryanair again, either.

Kris said...

Oh, interesting. We've been talking about travel to Portugal and in my researching, Easy Jet kept coming up. Good to know that it's a pretty decent option!

Irene S. Levine said...

Thanks for the "insider" tips!
Irene

Anthony said...

There was that funny PR stunt by Ryanair to trial passengers standing up on short trips - but I don't think that 'took off'.. ;)

Jeanine Barone said...

Hi Kris, Hope your travels to Portugal are fun and interesting. Let me know if you'd like any suggestions of off-the-beaten-track sights.

Jeanine Barone said...

Hi Irene, Glad I could be of help.

Jeanine Barone said...

Hi Anthony, yeah, I heard about that. When I was flying recently, I actually thought about that very thing. I still think they'll end up charging for the bathroom. :-)