They are the two biggest players by far in the low cost airlines business out of the UK. Easyjet and Ryanair. Both offer incredibly cheap deals, and sometimes amazing convenience, too. Each has brought a whole string of tempting weekend breaks within reach of literally millions of us.
Equally, each has also baffled, bemused, and often plain infuriated us by the thousands, with their selective, carefully concealed ‘stealth charges’ that can ramp up the price of a flight quicker than a plane cleared for take off. Having experienced the tender mercies of a few flights on both airlines, here’s my take on what is good, and what’s not so good. Buckle your seatbelts up; we could be heading into turbulence here.
I love above all else the simple fact that I can hop on one plane at Newcastle, and be in either Nice or Barcelona in little over two hours. No transit at Heathrow, Schipol or Charles De Gaulle. One plane. Easy.
I also like the fact that Easyjet now has assigned seating. It’s a blessing not to have to carry an electric cattle prod any more to secure (and keep) the seat I want.
Their flights are decently comfortable, with enough legroom for me (I’m 5′ 6″ tall). The service is generally good, more outgoing and cheerful than some of the so called ‘legacy carriers’, but without being patronising. Nicely done.
The prices for drinks on board are extortionate in proportion to what you actually get. Ditto the food.
And I really dislike the new rule about smaller cabin luggage that the airline introduced. That caught a lot of people off guard. If they were going to go down that road, then they should have given a few months’ more notice.
Generally new planes. Cheaper than Easyjet as a rule, but not by enough to generally make it a deal breaker.
The planes are comfortable enough for my height and build. See above.
The fact that Ryanair fly into sometimes easier to access airports, such as Treviso in Venice, rather than busier Marco Polo.
The endless, relentless sales pitches for everything that make it impossible to sleep. Food. Drink. Scratch cards. A couple of RB 211 turbo jet engines…. everything is up for sale. I’m surprised the cockpit doesn’t have a ‘Please Disturb’ sign on it. Enjoy the view from the flight deck for just ten euros….
The sense of being hustled on and off like human cargo. It’s just demeaning, and it makes you feel dirty.
The interiors. Gawd, those ghastly yellow plastic seat backs. Like a lego kit in the air.
AND IN GENERAL…..
Both websites are a lot easier to navigate than many people claim afterwards, but they do have to be read with extreme care and caution. It is also fair to note that a lot of the additional fees levied by both airlines are, in fact, UK Government mandated ones, and as such are outside the control of either Easyjet or Ryanair. Yet each continues to be blamed unfairly for these.
It should also be remembered that airports operate separately to the airlines; neither Easyjet or Ryanair own the bases that they fly from or to. Sometimes, when delays occur or schedules change, it truly is the fault of the airport operator.
For me personally, I’d always pay the extra few quid to fly Easyjet. It is, simply, a better product. I don’t feel as if my eyes are being taken out every time I board one of their flights. That said, I’ll probably continue to use Ryanair from time to time; their service to Venice from Leeds Bradford is just so easy. And, at the end of the day, it’s only two hours in either direction.
Just remember to take some ear plugs. And if you really get sick of the constant sales patter, I’ve got an electric cattle prod going cheap. One careful owner. Honest, guv’nor…