Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, is the ultimate low-cost carrier. Its fares are dirt cheap, but if there’s a way to charge extra for something, Ryanair will find a way to do it! The airline’s CEO Michael O’Leary has even joked about charging passengers to use the on-board toilets.
It’s therefore no surprise that around a third of Ryanair’s revenue comes from ancillary charges alone – such as the $89 fee to check-in at the airport. In fact, the airline doesn’t really care how much you pay for your ticket as their business model is all about getting a captive audience to sell to.
Ryanair has so many hidden fees that it’s easy for first-time flyers with the airline to get caught out. The charges are levied in either Euros or Great British Pounds, and have been converted to Australian dollars in this article. In many cases, a higher fee applies if you’re paying at the airport.
When booking a flight on the Ryanair website (the only way to book as Ryanair doesn’t work with travel agents), the flight is almost an afterthought. Before you can pay for your flight, Ryanair will also try to sell you seat selection, carry-on bags & priority boarding, checked luggage, travel insurance, in-flight food & drinks, airport fast-track services, airport parking, hire cars, airport transportation, hotels and activities at your destination.
All too quickly, a €5 (~$8) ticket…
…can become an €84 (~$137) ticket.
The up-selling doesn’t stop once you’ve booked your flight! When you fly with Ryanair, you’ll be bombarded with sales pitches for much of the flight. It starts before the plane has even taken off, as a pre-recorded announcement asks you to think about which drinks you’ll purchase later in the flight.
Ryanair hasn’t installed seat-back literature pockets on its aircraft (this makes the planes faster to clean), so you’ll be handed a menu as you board the flight.
After food & drinks have been served, the cabin crew will try to flog duty-free products, attraction tickets, ground transportation and Ryanair’s infamous charity scratch cards, which offer a prize of up to €1 million. (What Ryanair doesn’t say is that the chance of winning the top prize is less than one in a billion, and only a very small percentage of funds raised are donated to charity.)
It’s in the interest of Ryanair flight attendants to make as many sales as possible because they get paid a small commission on everything they sell. They also need to meet sales targets to avoid disciplinary action.
Ryanair baggage fees
Ryanair doesn’t just charge you to check in a bag. You’ll have to pay extra if you want to bring carry-on luggage onto the flight. Only one small personal bag (maximum 40 x 20 x 25cm) which fits under the seat in front is allowed on board for free. If you want to bring a regular-sized carry-on bag or use the overhead lockers, you’ll have to purchase up to 10kg of carry-on luggage for $10-23. This package does, for some reason, also come with priority boarding included.
You also have the option to purchase a 10kg checked bag for $16 or up to 3x 20kg bags for $40-65 each (plus a $16 surcharge on busy flights). If your luggage exceeds the purchased amount, you’ll be charged an extra $18 per kilogram.
Other Ryanair ancillary charges
As you might expect, Ryanair charges you extra if you want to pre-select a seat. But there are also plenty of ancillary charges with Ryanair that you might not expect. For example, you have to pay $89 just to check in at the airport! Ryanair charges such a ridiculous fee to encourage travellers to check-in online, saving Ryanair in airport staffing costs. If you do check-in online but forget to print your boarding pass at home, there’s a $32 fee for that.
Ryanair even requires families to pay $6.50 per adult for advance seat reservation, in order to guarantee that they will sit together. This charge is mandatory for adults travelling with children under 12, excluding infants, although up to 4 children on the same booking can be assigned seats at no additional charge.
Here are some of Ryanair’s other ancillary charges:
|Flight change fee||$57-154|
|Name change fee||$187-244|
|Government tax refund admin fee||$32|
|Missed departure fee||$162|
The missed departure fee is charged if you miss the 40-minute check-in cutoff for your flight, and the government tax refund admin fee is charged if you want to collect the taxes you’re legally entitled to for a flight you don’t take. (In many instances, the refundable tax amount is less than the airline fee.)
Ryanair’s name change fee is so high that it’s cheaper to legally change your name in the UK… which one traveller actually did.
If you’re travelling on an Australian passport – or any non-European passport, for that matter – there’s one more catch with Ryanair to be aware of. After checking in online and printing your own boarding pass, you’ll need to proceed to the Ryanair Visa/Document Check Desk at the airport before clearing security. If you don’t get your boarding pass stamped at this desk, you will be denied boarding. (No doubt, Ryanair would then charge you for the privilege of changing to a new flight or getting your taxes refunded.)
Ryanair may offer low fares, but flying with the airline is a miserable experience. Let’s hope that Jetstar and Tigerair don’t get any ideas…