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Beware Ryanair – The Hidden Physical, Mental, & Financial Costs

by Tony · 16 comments

Ryanair making you dizzy?“Don’t worry about how much it costs to live in Western Europe. Air travel is so cheap and easy!”

How many naive backpackers have uttered this phrase?

Have you?

I sure did.

But then you actually go ahead, book that “cheap flight” for the first time on Ryanair, and see it isn’t quite so easy.

You wade through the myriad of advertisements pretending to be flight options. You uncheck and check boxes trying to figure out what is required to confirm your flight and what is just advertising for other products.

You wait with the smelly backpacking masses in a never-ending line at the gate.

Your knees get arthritis from the physics-defying negative inches of leg room.

Your elbows get bloodied from the constant passage of the sales cart (used among the fancier airlines as the food & beverage cart).

Your ears start to ring from the ceaseless calls to buy insurance, perfume, credit cards, flotation devices, and whatever else the “flight attendants” deem commercially viable.

You finally land in France at an airport with the name “Paris” in it, but which is probably closer to Paris, Texas than Paris, France.

But you did it all, you SURVIVED it all, to save some money. But did you really?

And if you actually did, was the money saved worth the shortened life you will most surely have from the increased physical and mental stress of the flight?

That is only for you to decide, but let me help you out. Think about these hidden costs before you book that next cheap flight on Ryanair.

Dollars & Sense

Beware RyanairWhen searching for cheap flights, most everyone has the common sense to compare across several websites. But many just stop at the cheap airlines, like Ryanair, and think they are done.

Not you though, right?

Many times, the prices listed are not the ultimate price. There at least a dozen extra fees at Ryanair, but let’s take a look at a few key ones (prices are assuming you book online):

  • Want a reserved seat so you can avoid the crush of humanity at the gate? 10 Euros please.
  • 1st checked bag up to 20 kilos in the busy season? 35 Euros please.
  • 2nd checked bag up to 15 kilos in the busy season? 45 Euros please.

My favorite, even though you are crazy if you don’t print out your boarding pass online anyway, is an extra charge of 60 Euros… SIXTY… if you need your boarding pass printed at the airport.

Ryanair allows only one carry-on

Oh, and regarding why you would be checking a bag? Well… Ryanair only allows you to carry-on one BAG total.

Not a purse and a carry-on. Not a computer bag and a carry-on. Just one BAG. Make sure to add this into your price comparison.

“Yeah, yeah,” you say. “That’s what you expect with a low-cost airline. I’m not shocked.”

Well, fine. But some people don’t do the math before purchasing a ticket so I thought I would remind them. But the REAL hidden cost with Ryanair is the distance from many city centers to the airport.

In order to keep costs down, Ryanair needs to fly out of airports that are more remote. But by keeping their costs down, they are really just transferring some of the cost to you.


Let’s take my last Ryanair flight as an example. I was flying from Paris to Rome. I booked a flight on Ryanair flying out of Paris Beauvois. The only problem? I was staying in the center of Paris.

Going from the center of Paris to a Paris airport? That should be easy!

However, the only way at to get to the airport at 6am (for a 9:30am flight) was by bus. Luckily, there is a shuttle that leaves fairly frequently. I was at the airport in not-so-quick 1 hour and 15 minutes… still want to say I was flying out of Paris, Ryanair?

An airline has issues when it takes over an hour to get to the airport named after the city from the city’s downtown. Fact.

So how much extra did my flight out of “Paris” cost me?

I was staying on the other side of the city from the shuttle station so the taxi (the metro was closed at 6am) to get to the station cost me 25 Euro.

The shuttle to the “Paris” airport was an additional 15 Euro.

I had a computer bag and a 32 Liter backpack so I had to check one. 20 Euro (off season prices luckily).

Total hidden costs for my flight = 60 Euro.

I still fly Ryanair and other low cost airlines when the price is right, so don’t think I am telling you to stop. We all know that just $10 saved on a flight could easily be a nights stay in a hostel dorm.

I just want you to be able make a true comparison so that you don’t sacrifice your mental and physical health for no net savings. Do your research before you fly Ryanair and make sure to compare the true cost!

Your turn: Have you had a similar experience with hidden costs at an airline? Have you ever had to commute more than one hour & 15 minutes from a city’s center to an airport named after that same city?

*UPDATE* Hat tip to Emily In Chile for this video below. It is everything I have ever tried to say on the subject of low cost airlines… but more clearly and hysterically than I have ever accomplished. “If you haven’t pre-paid to use the steps, you’ll have to feckin jump!”

About Tony
Quit his job to try actually following his dreams for once... and is currently loving it. He is working hard to to make this life-style permanent by writing about his adventures and brainstorming money making opportunities with his partner-in-crime, Meg.

Megan May 14, 2012 at 4:09 pm

ohhhh yes…the hidden fees behind discount airlines 😉 welcome to europe yall!

i learned this the hard way with discount airlines too. i have not flown ryan air yet though! i actually really like wizz air. it is pretty direct on what to expect. but most of the other discount airlines are not.

Tony May 15, 2012 at 5:11 am

I had never head of Wizz air but just happened be looking for some flights yesterday and discovered them… they are SO cheap! I think I am going to have to try them out!

Gotta say though…. The flights are still about the same price as the buses in South America and about 1/10th as long…

Emily in Chile May 14, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Rodolfo completely lost a Ryanair flight a couple years ago because the friend who’d made the reservation hadn’t realized they had to print out their boarding passes themselves, and the airport staff claimed there was no way for them to do it and no printer anywhere in the airport! I think this video sums it up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPyl2tOaKxM

Tony May 15, 2012 at 5:17 am

It is brutal how careful you have to be not to screw that up! Feckers…

AMAZING link… I’m going to add this to the end (giving you credit, of course). I have never heard my frustration expressed so clearly before! Great find.

Chanel @ La Viajera Morena December 29, 2012 at 11:51 am

This video was feckin hilarious!

Barb May 15, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Very informative article – lots of things I was not aware of when flying economically. Thanks.

Tony May 16, 2012 at 2:48 am

Thanks Barb! It can still be worth it… the trick is figuring out how much you are actually going to be paying beyond just the ticket price :)

Pat May 19, 2012 at 10:49 am

The thing that gets me the most is the time and the craziness… I always forget, book a budget airline, then regret it while i’m standing in line for 90 minutes being elbowed by a bunch of old ladies.

I heard about 2 years ago that they were considering vending machines on flights… Guess it never came through.

Tony May 19, 2012 at 11:20 am

Glad to see you commenting, Pat!

That was one of the worst parts and I didn’t bother mentioning it… we had to get to the airport so early and then still had to wait in line because we all took the same bus together. 1.5 hrs just to check in!

Great call.


Jim May 21, 2012 at 11:23 pm

I use Ryanair when traveling for business so I have a rental car which helps when the airport is far away. The thing that gets me is recently at Bergamo (Milan) they made EVERYONE place their carry on in the metal frame to make sure it was within regulation size. This really slowed boarding. I find the 10 euro fee for a reserved seat in an exit row well worth the extra leg room. Air Berlin is more expensive but a big step up in quality and it’s still way less than the major airlines like Air France, Lufthansa or Alitalia

Tony May 22, 2012 at 2:37 am

Thanks for the great comment, Jim!

I HATE when they make you use the metal frame… that thing is made so only school backpacks can fit! The 10 euro fee is definitely worth it, I just think a lot of people forget to add that to their price when trying to compare to other airlines.

Great tip about Air Berlin. We’re heading to Germany in a month or two and will have to check it out.


Chanel @ La Viajera Morena December 29, 2012 at 11:53 am

Great article. I experienced the same frustration when booking my flight from Barcelona to Paris the other night. I ended up booking a flight on RyanAir however and hopefully it will be an okay experience.

Tony December 29, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Good luck! For me, I really try to be conscious of all the extra costs with the discounted airlines so that I am comparing true costs. Nothing worse than getting surprised by the total bill after you have paid!

billy July 23, 2013 at 1:30 am

Since when has Luton been part of London?

Tony July 23, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Exactly! You can say that with almost any Ryainair “local” airport… so crazy, right?!?!

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