Ryanair: My First Flight
I f you were hoping for a scathing report with me criticizing my first flight on Ryanair — especially after having written many articles about the airline and its chief executive officer over the years — you are about to be disappointed.
I expected to go through a hassle checking in for my flight — but it only took minutes at best. Arriving at the airport early probably helped matters considerably.
Despite usually packing well, I expected to encounter problems with my carry-on baggage — but all I received was an employee cheerfully telling me with a smile on my face to enjoy my flight.
I expected to be hit with a plethora of unexpected fees — but that never happened. The $70.93 which I paid in airfare for the flight — considerably less expensive than flights offered by other airlines — was all I paid. It did include a fee for using a credit card when booking the flight, which caused me to roll my eyes.
Because I was one of the first people to queue up in line, I also was able to sit on the concrete base of a wall in a building constructed of corrugated metal. I did not have “priority status”, so I waited in a regular line.
The way the queues in this separate building from the main airport building in Budapest were constructed reminded me of watching rats go through a maze in a laboratory experiment; and the different areas of this dreary and depressing oversized tool shed were separated by walls of metal mesh reminiscent of being in a cage — certainly different from the main building of the airport in Budapest, which is bright, clean and even “cheery.”
Being one of the first people in line meant boarding the airplane sooner; but it also meant waiting on line longer as well. Eventually, the half of the building in which I was waiting in line was filled with people.
We eventually went outside of the building out onto the tarmac to board the Boeing 737-800 airplane. My seat assignment — which I did not reserve in advance — was an aisle seat. When I boarded the airplane, I was given a copy of the in-flight magazine, which also had a menu of items to purchase.
The interior of the airplane was dark and dingy; and for some reason the rear of the seat back is comprised of a bright yellow plastic with the emergency information pasted onto it. There is no place to put your belongings behind the seat in front of you.
I was surprised that there were not advertisements plastered all over the doors of the overhead storage bins. Is Ryanair actually potentially leaving money on the table here?
Although not the fault of the airline itself, fellow passengers seemed careless. I was inadvertently hit with the bags of several people — one of whom hit me several times before apologizing profusely — and someone actually stepped on my foot even though it was completely under the seat in front of me. The aircraft was completely full of passengers.
The seat was not the most comfortable in which I have ever sat; but I have been in worse seats aboard airplanes in the past. Leg room was not bad for me, actually. There is no fear of “air rage” aboard a Ryanair flight in terms of seat recline — simply because the seats do not recline.
The airplane departed a few minutes late but arrived in Dublin 20 minutes early. The flight of approximately two and a half hours itself was uneventful: there were two rounds of service where items were sold by the flight attendants; and they collected unwanted magazines — to be used again, as I can tell mine was — as well as any refuse to be disposed.
Upon arrival, we had to wait a few minutes before the stairway was brought to the door of the aircraft used for boarding and deplaning. It felt like I walked a literal kilometer from the airplane to the exit.
I would say that the worst parts of the experience were the queuing and fellow passengers themselves. A minor irritation was that in both Budapest and Dublin, the gates for passengers of Ryanair seemed to be at the farthest points of both airports.
Would I fly as a passenger on Ryanair again? I have one more flight operated by Ryanair on my unintentional flight around the world — and that is from Dublin to Madrid. I will let you know of my experience with that flight as well…
…but even though the experience was not nearly as bad as I initially thought, I would rather not — unless the difference in airfare was significant enough for me to consider otherwise; and the flight time was significantly shorter.
All photographs ©2014 by Brian Cohen.