Last week, I posted a piece about how to pack a Ryanair suitcase, and I promised some tips for using the Ryanair system to your maximum advantage. It can be a really easy, fast, and cheap way to see Europe – but it can also quickly become an expensive nightmare.


Except for Michael O’Leary, who loves it when you get charged. Photo via FlightGlobal.

So here’s how I’ve (mostly!) avoided expensive extra charges from Ryanair.

1. Take some time to compare ticket prices. Ryanair usually has the cheapest ticket price listed, but it doesn’t always have the best final price.

Don’t forget to factor in baggage charges and transport to and from the airport. Ryanair may promise to fly you to Barcelona, but there are three Barcelona airports – and two of them are an hour and €20 bus ride away from the actual city.

2. Make sure you pack effectively. Here’s my packing article.


3. Plan what you’re going to pack – I have a list of pointers below.

4. Line up carefully, and strategize which travelers you’ll be next to. I usually go near the end of the line, right after a large family, and after they’ve already caught and are dealing with travelers who are getting charged for baggage violations.

I also always have my hand baggage ready for boarding so they don’t spend too much time looking at me (one piece of luggage, jackets and items on your body, boarding pass and passport in hand).

6. Know what you’re getting into. Read the airline’s policies very carefully. Everything is laid out and explained precisely, though it may be a little difficult to find on their website.

For instance, I was unpleasantly surprised by the boarding pass charge (€40 for not printing it out at home!!)


Image credit: Terminal U

7. And finally, if you know you have too much baggage or your suitcase is just a bit too big, make sure you have enough money to pay for potential charges. I’ve never had my baggage weighed or my suitcase measured, but I always know that I’ll be able to pay for extra charges. Not being able to get on the plane because of extra charges would really ruin your trip.

Here are some pre-packing pointers:

  • Can you borrow something similar at your destination (i.e. shampoo)? Skip it – that’s why I have so few toiletries in my example case. Take as little as possible.
  • Figure out if your airport is flexible or really strict. England’s East Midlands tried to make me pay £3 for a plastic bag and go back through security because of a single 1-oz. bottle of contact lens solution. The security officer wailed “Oh,  my darling, what have you done?” when he discovered my non-bagged liquid.
  • Decide just how willing you are to risk the baggage charges. Pick how far you’re going to push it ahead of time (I inevitably choose “very far”).
  • Make sure your suitcase fits the Ryanair regulation size – 55cm x 40 cm x 20 cm.
  • Put as much stuff in your pockets as humanly possible.  Pockets don’t count as baggage allowance, and you can take it all off on the plane! Check out these fabulous vests, which the blogger behind A British Boy in Barcelona introduced me to.

Photo credit: Jaktogo

  • Wear as many layers as you can without suffocating. Here’s a trick – take your extra clothes in a plastic carrier bag to the airport, then put them on while you wait to board the plane. That way, you only overheat for about ten minutes. Easy!

So far, I’ve had really good luck with Ryanair. Figuring out how to play the Ryanair game definitely helps avoid those nasty extra charges that can potentially ruin your whole trip.

Photo credit: Bloomberg

Photo credit: Bloomberg

Ryanair travelers, do any of you have any other advice for making the most of the system?