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.
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.)