Posted in Budget, Cheap Airline, Europe, Travel

RyanAir – An airline that nickels and dimes customers

Dear Travelers:

You like low cost airlines, so do we.  They say you get what you pay for and that is the case with Ryan Air; you only get a seat on an airplane that takes you from A to B.

It is well known that if you choose your seats or request extra leg room, you pay extra. Wanna check a baggage? Not free either but a carry-on luggage is.

Checking-in online at home and printing your own boarding passes are no big deal anymore but what happens when you send senior citizens (my parents) on a trip who have no smart phones with internet connection, additionally we did not have internet at the beach house in Malta and obviously we don’t travel with printers.  Well, apparently not everybody can check-in online and print boarding passes on the way back!! We were on a remote location about an hour from the capital.

My flight from Malta to Washington was early in the morning, my parents had to fly back to Budapest at 7:10 PM with RyanAir.  Before I left I gave them the flight confirmation but obviously I could not check them in online due to the lack of internet and printer.  RyanAir did not accept the flight confirmation (payment for 2 seats), apparently they penalize travelers for not checking-in online and printing their own boarding passes.  The penalty is almost as much as the airfare so they basically re-sell you the same seats! I paid $60 per person for the ticket and the penalty at the airport was 50 Euro (roughly $54) per person. The penalty is per segment, so if you need to transfer somewhere the 50 Euro doubles up per person!

My elderly parents speak no English, they just kept showing the document I gave them, which was the flight confirmation.  I gifted these tickets to my parents to be able to attend a family reunion so they had no record of the purchase; I had the email confirmation.  My mom panicked at the counter thinking they won’t be able to fly back home and of course she had no way to reach me since I was in the air, flying back home. She unwillingly agreed to pay whatever RyanAir demanded with the foreign transaction fees.  I can’t say RyanAir is kind and fair, their conversion rate between the Euro and the Hungarian Forint was the lowest I have ever seen; they gained some money on the purchase transaction too!  Mom usually never travels with her bank card abroad (she never needs money when she is with me) but luckily my sister was cautious and put it in her valet.  Imagine what could have happened if they did not have their bank card with them because they did not have cash on them either.  They might have gotten stranded at the Malta airport!

After I returned to the USA I opened a dispute with RyanAir but basically I wasted my time.  They said I could have checked them in online 60 days in advance if I prepaid for seats but you are on your own if you don’t have seats selected (like I do).  This is their way to enforce travelers to buy seats!  When you don’t have a seat selected you can only check-in 4 days in advance so if you take a week long vacation (like we did), may the Power be with you.  You need to find a library (if there is any near you) or if you stay in a hotel, perhaps you can ask for help from the receptionist or concierge unless they have a business room.  If you rent an apartment or a beach house with no internet and printer (like I did), just prepare yourself to fork out extra cash at the airport.

Their customer service sucks the same way the airline does.  You can only send them a complaint via an online form but you are limited to type 1000 characters.  They will respond within a few days but you can’t reply to their emails anymore.  I chatted with an agent online who suggested me to send a new complaint. Good god!

Before you choose RyanAir, please take a look at the other airlines as well, the other fare might cost more money but check all additional fees and if they throw you any peanuts onboard or not.  If RyanAir could charge you for using their bathroom they would, perhaps Number 2 would cost you more 😉

Photo: Ryanair.com

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