You would be forgiven for thinking that people dislike Ryanair. Over the years, it has been a popular pastime to bash the Irish carrier for whatever reason possible. The airline is the most popular in Europe though, and I’d say it is even people’s favourite.

The negativity towards the brand is usually down to statements from the airline’s very capable and very colourful CEO, Michael O’Leary. Ideas to charge for things like using the toilet certainly garnered lots of free publicity for the company.

Ryanair is Europe’s Favourite

Passenger numbers don’t lie, and Ryanair carried 152.4 million people on European routes in 2019. This was ahead of Lufthansa Group, International Airlines Group and Air France-KLM, the only others with over 100 million passengers that year, and a lot of those were on international flights outside of Europe.

While that is a great indicator of popularity, why do people actually choose to book flights with Ryanair? They are a low fares carrier, sure, but price isn’t everything, as Ryanair can and do charge quite high amounts where they can.

So Why Are They The Favourite?

Ryanair serve a lot of point to point routes that no other airlines operate. This usually means you can get closer to where you want to go, often avoiding main hubs. A good example is Poland. Many other carriers operate to just Warsaw and Krakow, while Ryanair serve lots of smaller cities.

People also know what to expect with Ryanair, such as having to pay extra to guarantee your cabin bag in the cabin, or the baggage charges or seat charges. With relatively low expectations of on board service, passengers expect to be taken from A to B with a minimum of fuss. Operationally, Ryanair are often on time, though that has been slipping in recent years.

Overall Thoughts

With low expectations, people are less inclined to be disappointed when something does go wrong. That, along with the perceived value of the fares and the wide network are what makes it a favourite in Europe.

For all the tabloid glee at Michael O’Leary’s publicity stunts, he is a respected CEO in the industry. Ryanair has been consistently profitable and has grown to be the largest airline on the continent under his watch. Let’s hope he publishes a book someday!

Personally, I tend to fly Ryanair when I need to, usually when I need to go somewhere and nobody else is flying there. Or when I’m having a cashflow squeeze, of course. I’ve always made it, generally on time. I won’t say I enjoyed myself as much as I do when flying business class, but then I don’t expect to.

Is Ryanair your favourite airline in Europe? Or do you choose to fly other airlines and why? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Michael Oldfield via Wikimedia Commons.