How to navigate a deal on Ryanair
Ashley Colby, Special to Tribune Newspapers
October 11, 2009
In late August I was able to book a one-way flight from Pisa to Barcelona for just 10 euros, or about $14.70. This came as a 48-hour promotion for 5-euro flights with all fees and taxes waived (except a 5-euro payment handling fee) for flights September through December. Then, on Sept. 1, I found a 6-pound ($9.80) late-October flight from London to Oslo.
When booking during one of Ryanair's incredible-sounding sales, first read the terms and conditions before getting too excited. Blackout dates and seemingly incomprehensible exceptions might be involved. Flexibility is key.
Recognize that there are certain fees that most likely won't be waived, such as the "payment handling fee" (5 euros per flight) and the "online check-in fee" (5 euros).
Most of the fees, however, can be avoided with careful planning. Skip the "priority boarding fee" (3 euros) and the "text message confirmation" (1 euro) by simply remembering to check "no" when filling out details. Other fees demand greater cunning to refuse. The "optional travel insurance" is avoided by choosing the "no travel insurance required" option, which strangely is between Latvia and Lithuania in the drop-down menu.
Be aware of baggage specifications. Ryanair (ryanair.com) charges 10 euros for the first checked bag and another 20 for each subsequent bag. The catch is that the combined weight of all three bags must be no more than 15 kilograms, or 33 pounds.
Ryanair does not charge for carry-on luggage but expects customers to fit every item (purses, coats, shopping bags) into a single 10-kilo carry-on. Failure to follow these rules means Ryanair retains the right to deny boarding and cancel a reservation without refund.
Finally, many airports used by Ryanair are connected to the city only by a Ryanair-owned bus company. Take the price of the bus into consideration when figuring the total cost.
Once you learn how to work the system, you can find yourself jetting around Europe for the price of a few Happy Meals.
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