Flight: London Stansted – Bydgoszcz
Ryanair were one of the first budget, no-frills airlines. They have, unfortunately, earned themselves a reputation for poor service, misleading advertising and charging for everything. My own experience of flying with them has been appalling. On my recent trip to Bydgoszcz they were the only option for direct flights from the UK so I did not have a choice but to fly with them. I wondered whether, based on past encounters, you could ever have a good experience flying Ryanair.
Booking was done by the trip organiser through Ryanair’s own website and included one hold bag.
Ryanair require you to Check-in online which can be done upto seven days prior to departure. I used Ryanair’s new app to check-in and download the boarding pass to my iPhone. It was simple and straight forward to use. I was randomly assigned a seat but could, for an extra fee, have selected my seat. I was also offered the option of priority boarding but again, decided not to take it.
At the airport
There are dedicated zones for Ryanair at Stansted Airport and both were overcrowded. Online check-in and a bag drop at the airport is supposed to be easy, quick and ease the flow of people. It took me 22 minutes standing in line to drop off my bag. I was at the bag drop desk where it aaas weighed, tagged and sent on its way in less than a minute. However there are so many restrictions even with the new cabin baggage rules that people run foul of them; it slows down the flow of passengers. One passenger was 700g over the limit and the time involved being charged 10 pounds for it was hardly worth the disruption.
The first 90 passengers are guarrenteed there second cabin bag on board a busy flight. Those after risk their bag being relegated to the hold. This means there was a bit of a scrum and as the flight was full passengers towards the end of the queue were having their bags yellow tagged. My own bag was small enough to avoid the dreaded tag. Ryanair invariably do not use the available walkways so we stood in line out on the apron waiting to board.
Ryanair have perfected the art of disembarkation and embarkation and it was all done quickly and efficiently. My boarding card was marked with which door, front or rear, I was to use. This worked well on the flight to Bydgoszcz with very little congestion.
Compared with many of the flights I have had with Ryanair this one was a big improvement. The cabin crew were a pleasant team and service was done with a smile. They were also efficient throughout the flight dealing with passenger’s requests and patient when dealing with a rowdy group.
There were a few announcements pointing out the latest special offers on board. Often this was done by cabin crew walking down the aisle asking if we wanted whatever it was they were trying to sell. On this flight there were few commercial announcements – duty free being the big exception. There was every opportunity to relax, doze or listen to music without constant advertising.
Food I board was available and there were hot meals available, sandwiches, cakes and pastures as well as the usual range of soft and alcoholic drinks and tea, coffee and chocolate. All this comes at a premium price often for a smaller portion than available on the high street.
There is no pouch on the seat in front which is a little inconvenient when you have a magazine or book but I discovered it does give a little more legroom. It’s surprising how much difference a couple of extra centimetres makes when you have long legs. The seats were fairly basic and I found them uncomfortable.
Can you have a good experience flying with Ryanair? I have had some very poor experiences when flying Ryanair but have to admit that this particular flight surprised me. The airline is making an effort to improve customer relations and it is beginning to show. However there is a lot that can still be done to make the preflight experience at the airport better.
Ryanair is after all still a budget airline and you don’t get the same level of service on any of the budget airlines that you would expect on the high end carriers. However you can get a much better experience than before.
Rank: 6 out of 10