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Ryanair booking an interesting experience

My wife and I will be traveling to Ireland and Scotland later this year. It’s a trip with a lot of moving parts. Trains, planes and automobiles.

One thing that needed to be done is to book our airfare from Scotland to Dublin. There weren’t a lot of options. Aer Lingus has flights but they require lengthy and annoying connections through London. One airline even had a connection through Amsterdam, creating a 5-6 hour trip for what is a one hour flight.

Ryanair is an Irish airline that has become a dominant player in Europe. It’s like a European version of Southwest, only without the frills.

You’re charged for making your booking with a credit card. You’re charged to board early. You’re charged to pick out your seats. They even charge to send you a text message with your flight details. And should you be one of those who forgot to print your boarding pass before arriving at the airport, get ready to shell out about 20 Euros to have them do it for you.

There are also charges for food and beverages and according to one documentary they even make their pilots pay for bottled water.

So how did they become a dominant airline carrying tens of millions of people per year with a fleet over more than 300 planes? Cheap flights.

Our base fare from Edinburgh to Dublin was $40. By the time we booked the flight, picked out our seats, and paid for our excess baggage ($35 for a bag weighing 20kg) the final amout paid was $175.

But despite all of that, it really doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. Southwest used to have dirt cheap flights to Dallas and Houston, but not so much anymore, especially to Houston. Unless you catch a sale you’re going to pay around $200 per person to Houston round trip on Southwest from Oklahoma City. Your bags do fly free, as the company is fond of reminding us, but on an equivalent one-way flight Ryanair is actually a little cheaper.

That being said, I have no idea what I’m in for on Ryanair. Their cabins are filled with advertisments. The company goes as far as printing the safety information on the back of seats rather than cards typically found on most airlines. Cards cost money and they add weight so innovation prevails. There are advertisments on the overhead bins.

But they do boast a great safety record and have one of the youngest fleets (all 737s) in the skies today. They also have a 90 percent on time rate with their flights, better than any other European airline.

So it will be interesting to take this brief flight on the European version of Southwest. It’s going to be a tough act for the Ryanair folks to follow because Southwest is about as good as it gets if you want safe, relatively inexpensive and reliable travel.



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Matt Patterson

Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun.... Read more ›