Avoiding Extra Fees on RyanAir

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It starts with wearing 5 layers of clothing when boarding your flight.

This weekend I met Tiff’s European counterpart on one of my flights! She and her mom had been able to get tickets from Dublin to Edinburgh for only 16.90 Euros each way. And she had several tips (and funny stories) on how to avoid RyanAir’s many Spirit Airline-like fees.

The last time I flew them was 14 years ago, I got a 5GBP ticket to Ireland from London. Still proud of that. But I also only had a backpack so there was little they could charge me for. We had a long flight to kill and I was really interested, so she updated me on recent events and walked me through what the current, improved booking process is like.

After the story made international news last fall about a man who lost his family in a house fire and had to pay €187 to change his return ticket to get home, RyanAir pledged to be be more customer friendly. That meant reducing things like pre-paid checked bag fees from €60 to €35 and allowing one small personal item in addition to one carryon. Wow.

But the customer-friendly website still has many challenges. The first issue was opting out of travel insurance.

RyanAir Insurance Opt Out

It says select “Don’t Insure Me” from the drop down, but where is it?

RyanAir Dont Insure location

Turns out it’s alphabetized with the list of countries, not really intuitive despite their hint. My new friend was so frustrated she was ready to just pay the €40 fee until she called her sister and asked.

Next up was the checked baggage fee which now starts at a modest €15 during low season for 15kg or less when paid online and goes up from there, maxing out at €70 for a 2nd 15kg checked bag during high season + €10 per extra kilo. Ouch.

Paying with a credit card adds another 2% charge, paying with a debit card gets you a 2% discount.

Ryan Air Credit Card fees

If you want text message notification of your flight status, that’s an extra €1.69!

When she went to check in for her flight and print out her boarding pass, it kept registering an error. After trying half a dozen times it finally went through – well worth her effort since having to reprint a boarding pass at the airport is €15. Still better than checking in at the airport – that will run you €70.

The best part of the story was hearing about her in-person experiences, particularly the return flight. They had done quite a bit of shopping and were at risk of going over their pre-purchased checked luggage limit.

So they crammed their new clothing purchases into their carry-ons. Only to find out that the RyanAir staff in Edinburgh strictly enforce the carry-on size limits. In fact, one agent is so strict about enforcement that frequent travelers have given her a nickname and warnings to other travelers to avoid being in her line if possible.

As you might have guessed, my friend wound up in that line despite her best efforts. Well, only briefly in the line and the woman came over and pulled them and their stuffed duffel bags aside. They needed to downsize until the bags could be scrunched into the sizing bin.

Their solution? Layering. After each donning 5 sweaters/tops their bags would finally fit in the allotted space. She and her mom are both petite, so the image them donning the first things that came to hand, including clothing purchased for male relatives, was pretty funny.

Once on board the fees didn’t stop. My favorite – paying the expected €2 for a can of soda, only to discover it was the mini-cans! Her favorite? Finding out they not only sold lottery cards onboard, but that they promote them heavily. Inflight gambling anyone?:)

Yes, some of the fees are ridiculous, but as Tiff also points out about Spirit Airlines, at the end of the day they’d been able to fly to Edinburgh for little more than traveling to the major shopping center an hour away. So as long as you know how to play the game and stay minimal, RyanAir, like Spirit, can be a great option.

If like me, you get a kick out seeing the many different possible fees, here’s a link to the list. Do you have a funny RyanAir anecdote?


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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world.


  1. Tiff

    February 4, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    The time our flight got cancelled and we had to pay twice the price to get bused to Switzerland from Germany.

  2. Pingback: Affording the Camino de Santiago – Airfare | Journey Taker

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