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 😉


Posted in Cheap Airline, Europe, Travel

Understanding combination air tickets and luggage allowance on small air crafts

A friend of mine contacted me from Hungary asking me for help on a combination ticket. Her son and husband are flying from Budapest to Barcelona for a soccer tournament taking Wizzair but returning with Ryanair.

In cases like hers, a trip involving multiple airlines within the EU she must check with both airlines to know the exact baggage allowance because airlines have different limitations.  Don’t be surprised if one airline allows smaller cabin bags and lighter checked bags than the rest so when you have a combination ticket you must go with the stricter one (given you travel with the same bag both ways).

Short flight planes are fairly small so the overhead luggage compartments and the space under the seats are very small, which means that they have to limit the size of the carry-on items.  Due to cabin space limitations they may only fit 70-90 cabin bags but any remaining bags will be checked free of charge at the door of the air craft. If you carry fragile items in your cabin bag and there is no room for yours just insist that they check other bags instead of yours otherwise you can say goodbye to your china.

Before you start packing your personal belongings please check your airline’s baggage size and weight allowance (if you are flying with multiple carriers then check  with all of them) because if your bag is off by an inch and it does not fit inside the cabin, you will be asked to check it and there is a fee for that. Keep in mind that checking a bag at the airport costs up to 40% more than checking it online so choose your luggage wisely.  Now, if your bag does not fit because there is no room for it (the overhead compartment is full) than they will check it for you free of charge SO THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE!!!!  Measure your luggage (with wheels and handle) instead of relying on your best guess.  If you have a bag that you used in the past on another flight do not assume that all airlines will accept it (under free allowance), for the record Lufthansa and British Airways tend to accept larger cabin bags.

The same rule goes for checked bags, as they call it in Europe “hold bags”.  Size is important so that your bag can fit through the cargo door and weight matters because you will have to pay for it; some airlines have set fees while others will charge per kilogram over a certain weight, like Ryanair does it over 15 kg or Easyjet over 20 kg; the heavier the bag the higher the cost is. Don’t stop there, Wizzair charges different baggage fees during low season and peak season travel, not to mention an additional airport surcharge if you purchased a ticket within 3 hours of your flight departure.

There is no way to memorize these baggage fees for every airline which keep on increasing every year besides the allowances are different for each carrier, so don’t bother. Pack light and try to fit your personal items in your carry-on and second bags; if you must check a bag just follow the guidelines for the cheapest option. First class and business class passengers have more free allowances so I suggest you to check the baggage allowance for your flight every time you travel.

Image: santoantaovacation



Posted in Cheap Airline, Europe, Travel

Blind Booking for 33 Euros one way by Eurowings

Mystery flights at a fixed price

Naturally, you get to decide when and from where you wish to depart and what sort of trip you’re in the mood for. Just choose your departure airport and your personal interest by clicking on one of the themed offers.

  • Of course, you can specify when and where you want to fly from at Eurowings attractive fixed prices.
  • Undesired destinations can be ruled out for a charge of €5 per passenger and per destination, thus tailoring your booking to suit your personal preferences.
  • As soon as your booking is complete you will find out your destination so you can prepare for your trip.
  • The minimum stay is 18 hours.
  • Blind Booking flights can be booked up to 45 days days before departure

First: Pick a departure city:

Cologne, Dusseldorf, Hanover, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Berlin and Vienna

Second: Choose a category (the airline will chose the city for you from your category)

Culture: Barcelona, Budapest, Dresden, Leipzig/Halle, London, Milan, Prague, Rome, Salzburg, Venice, Vienna, Zagreb

Metropolis: Barcelona, Berlin, Budapest, Hamburg, Lisbon, London, Milan, Prague, Rome, Vienna, Zagreb, Zurich

Gay friendly: Barcelona, Berlin, Hamburg, Manchester, Milan, Venice, Vienna, Zurich

Shopping: Barcelona, Berlin, Bologna, Budapest, Dresden, London, Manchester, Milan, Rome, Venice, Zurich

Nature, Trekking and Hiking: Berlin, Bologna, Dublin, Edinburgh, Klagenfurt, Rostock, Salzburg, Zurich

Party: Barcelona, Berlin, Budapest, Dublin, Edinburgh, Hamburg, Leipzig/Halle, London, Manchester, Milan, Prague, Vienna


Antalya (Turkey), Athens, Bari (Italy), Bastia (Corsica) Cagliari (Sardinia), Catania (Sicily), Corfu (Greece), Heraklion (Crete, Greece), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Faro (Portugal), Ibiza (Spain), Izmir (Turkey), Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), Kavala (Greece), Lamezia Terme (Italy), Menorca (Spain), Naples (Italy), Nice (France), Olbia (Sardinia), Palermo (Italy), Palma de Mallorca (Spain), Pula (Croatia), Rhodees (Greece), Rijeka (Crotia), Split (Croatia), Thessanoniki (Greece), Verona (Italy), Zadar (Croatia)


Posted in Cheap Airline, Travel

Cheap international airlines and fees

There are no rules set in stone concerning which websites are the cheapest or which airlines are the most affordable. No such thing.  While WOW Air and Aer Lingus might be one of the cheapest international airlines from the east coast to Western and Northern Europe you certainly have to compare the prices with other airlines; you just never know who is running a promotion.  In Europe check out RyanAir, Easyjet, AirBaltic, WizzAir, Volotea and Vueling, where tickets start from 6 Euro one way with taxes and fees included.

Keep in mind that Wow Air charges a service fee if you don’t book directly with them, which is $26 per flight leg.  Seat selection is anywhere between $9-48 per flight leg.  Checked baggage is $48 if prepaid online, $68 if paid at the airport. Hand luggage is free up to 11 pounds (5 kg) but over the free allowance it will cost you $38 if prepaid online and $48 if paid at the airport.  This is very typical for European airlines, they try to off-set the low costs but if you are a smart traveler you can still save money by not selecting a seat (let the airline choose for you) and packing light.

Certain airlines charge you for tickets purchased over the phone so do it online, no big deal.  Curbside check-in can also cost you a few bucks so line up inside the terminal or check-in online up to 24 hours before departure, you can even print your own luggage tag!

Take your headset with you, most likely the airline will charge you for it. If your flight is long you will need one, if not for onboard entertainment, to cancel the noise around you.

Food on flights: Forget free food on domestic flights within the USA and Europe, you are lucky if you get a cookie or a whole peanut, and unfortunately the same goes on international flights shorter than 6 hours, unless you are flying on first class. The flight attendants hand you a “menu”  with a small and not-so-great selection of food items, never mind healthy.  I say bring your own food or get a meal to go at the airport.

We flew from Paris to Washington on Iceland Air, changing in Reykjavik.  The first leg was about 4 hours, the second was 6 and we had to beg for water.  Luckily we purchased breakfast in Paris and bought some meals to go at the connecting airport so we managed the 10 hour flight.  On a side note: while the Reykjavik airport is very modern and clean, it is the smallest I have ever seen which gets super crowded in the summer months due to the short tourist season.  Lines were long at the bathrooms and food court; I tend to think they are one of the most expensive airports in terms of food costs due to the cold climate on this northern island where they export goods.