Ryanair is Europe’s largest airline and they have an interesting reputation thanks to their notorious CEO Michael O’Leary. The airline is often in the news thanks to headline grabbing concepts such as floating the idea of standing room only seats or paying to use the toilet.

Air travel in Europe has never been more affordable largely thanks to Ryanair and other low-cost airlines. The airline is well known for charging high fees to print boarding passes, charging for baggage and many other reasons. Passenger horror stories are rife and the media joyously reports each new outrage with glee.

Despite this, Ryanair is now one of the largest airlines in the world. What is it like flying with them?

Online Flight Bookings

My flight to Edinburgh cost around €50 which included a fee to select my seat. Happily you can check-in up to 30 days in advance when you have a seat selected so I did that and printed off my boarding pass.

With my boarding pass printed it was time to head off to the airport.

At The Airport

Dublin offers fast-track security and I chose to pay €6 for this service to allow me to arrive at the airport and avoid waiting around. Once through security, it was off to the gate to wait for my flight to board.

FR816 – Dublin to Edinburgh (DUB-EDI)
28 January 2017
Boeing 737-800 – EI-ENK
Seat: Economy 2A
Departure: 12:35 Arrival: 13:45

There are two queues available, one for people with priority boarding and the aptly named “Other Q”. The flight was called for boarding at 11:55 which is before the aircraft arrived and people started queuing. The Ryanair ground staff moved along the priority queue to ensure everyone was eligible which is a nice touch.

A bag sizer is present at each gate and any bag that looks like it is too large is checked prior to boarding. The team make an announcement to advise that only the first 90 bags are guaranteed to be taken on board and any extras will be checked in at no charge.

Stop Start Boarding Process

As I mentioned, boarding was called at 11:55 which is before the aircraft arrived. It arrived at 12:05 and at 12:08 boarding commenced. Boarding passes were checked and we proceeded downstairs to ground level and stopped at a set of closed doors to wait.

Waiting on the stairs takes quite some time and you watch the inbound passengers passing by during this time. The area is quite cold as it’s almost outside and after cooling our heels for 17 minutes the door opened.

Boarding passes indicate which stairs you are to use and once through the aircraft door you show your boarding pass again and the crew offer you a magazine. I accepted as I knew it would have the menu in it and I wanted to eat on board.

Time To Fly Ryanair

I opened the small overhead locker, deposited my bag and sat down in 2A. The magazine contains a couple of pages about Ryanair and then is completely filled with items to purchase on board including the food. While seated I took some pictures of my surroundings.

Leg room is quite okay and comparable to other European carriers. As a cost saving measure, the safety information is a sticker on the back of the seat in front of you. This saves on replacement costs as they can’t be damaged or liberated.

Doors closed at 12:39 and the flight deck announced we would be cruising at 23,000 feet with a flight time of 45 minutes. I was dubious about having time to eat and knew I would have to be quick.

The safety demonstration is manual and the voice over is pre-recorded. This is great as in the past there were times you could not understand a word of the demonstration due to the heavy accents of some of the crew. We pushed back at 12:43 and were at the active runway and in the air in short order.

Ordering Food and Drink

Crew are released very quickly and one comes through immediately asking if you wish to order hot food. I chose to order a ham and cheese croissant and some oven chips. I love the humble french fry and this was to be my first time having them on a flight.

My order was taken at 13:02 and I was informed my choices would take 15 minutes to heat.

Trolley service commenced and I chose White’s Lemonade as it was €2 which made my total food order €10. As I was paying, my croissant and chips were brought up from the rear and popped into the forward oven on board at 13:07. It seems I was the only one partaking in hot food today.

I paid with cash and received my drink. A few minutes later I was proactively offered some ice which was quite nice. Something must have been in the water at the airport as there was a revolving door of people using the forward toilet on the short flight.

Scarfing Down Food At High Speed

My food was delivered to me at 13:18 which was just over 10 minutes in the oven and virtually exactly 15 minutes from when I ordered. Clockwork!

Attacking the food with gusto I was impressed with the croissant. Soft, warm, hammy and cheesy – delicious! I hoovered it down quickly as I felt the aircraft begin to descend at 13:25. It had been 7 minutes since the food had arrived and I’d wasted precious time taking pictures.

Interestingly the salt on the chips was damp so it fell out in blobs so I had a mission to spread it about. The chips were tasty, hot and quite nice. Throwing them into my mouth and chewing rapidly was the name of the game and I lamented not spending a few extra cents on ketchup purely for lubrication!

Landing Delights!

The crew began clearing in and I still had some chips to go. I motioned apologetically to the crew member as she passed and continued eating. She came back and took my rubbish shortly after with no smiles for me for going off piste and not playing the game.

Soon after we landed in Edinburgh at 13:40. Ryanair play a trumpet fanfare when flights arrive on time and this flight was no exception. The passengers dissolved into giggles at this feature of the flight and it was a happy bunch of passengers deplaning down the stairs in Edinburgh’s winter rain.

Overall Thoughts

Low cost is a synonym for bad however Ryanair have made great strides with their new passenger friendly attitude. The food options are far superior to years past. I once ordered a burger on board which was literally two pieces of bun with a piece of unidentified meat in between. It had an expiry date 9 years into the future which was plain scary. Not anymore! Delicious hot food and a good selection is the name of the game.

Fees have been reduced to a more realistic level – no more €50 fee if you did not print your boarding pass. The airline is largely responsible for European flyers being quick to board, having knowledge of what is and isn’t allowed and so on. Ryanair should be lauded for their approach. They have made flying affordable for the masses and with over 110 million passengers per year they have hit on a winning combination.

I hope you have enjoyed this report and if you have any comments, questions or horror stories, please leave them below. Thanks for reading!

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Featured image via Ryanair.