Those of us who know Ryanair may have heard that it’s truly one of the most inexpensive vessels to get you to many different parts of Europe. Their flights, especially when you book early, could be had for a steal. Ours wasn’t too shabby. We flew from Rome to Manchester in the UK for $69 per person. I’ve seen it as low as under $30, but I planned our trip a little too late and we also were quite specific with the flight time and day.
This was not our first time flying with Ryanair. We’ve flown Ryanair twice in the past:
2015 – from Venice to Paris
2016 – from Madrid to Paris
What’s the catch
Ryanair is not exactly your super posh airline. It’s a budget airline. No frills, no thrills – but wait, it does have thrills – flying around Europe at such a low price is a thrill. This is obviously very subjective. Flying an airline Ryanair is NOT for everybody. I tell folks that if you expect first class treatment, if you expect a lot of leg room, then this is probably not for you.
I checked my other options such as using my points, and it was better to pay for the airfare in cash rather than using my miles or points.
Baggage policy – what we did and did not do
Ryanair is also known for having strict baggage policy.
- All passengers are entitled to bring 1 small personal bag on board which must fit under the seat in front of you (35cm x 20cm x 20cm). Examples include, handbag, laptop bag and small back pack. WE DID THIS – Each of us had a backpack
- Passengers who have purchased “Priority & 2 Cabin Bags” or Plus/Flexi/Family ticket or connecting flight ticket can bring 1 additional 10kg bag on board which must fit into the baggage sizer (not exceeding 10kg and dimensions 55cm x 40cm x 20cm). – WE DIDN’T DO THIS.
- Passengers who choose not to purchase ”Priority & 2 Cabin Bags” and arrive at the gate with 2 bags, your second larger bag (10kg weight Dimensions: 55cm x 40cm x 20cm) will be taken off you, tagged and placed in the aircraft hold free of charge. Please ensure all valuables are removed – THIS IS WHAT WE DID. Each of us had a typical US domestic carryon.
Ryanair’s allowance is for a cabin baggage up to 55 x 40 x 20 cm, when converted to inches = 21.6535 x 15.748 x 7.874. We have a domestic carryon that we’ve been using for years, and when compared to the international carryons that many of those traveling in Europe use, our domestic carryons look like giants. According to WorldTraveler.com,
International carry-on size restrictions can be a notoriously challenging subject to grasp since so much of the restrictions are determined by where you are traveling. However, international carry-on size rulings become easier to digest, once you can decipher the rules that depend upon international or domestic travel.
Outside of the U.S. the standard carry-on baggage size is smaller (this relates to flights originating outside the U.S. and with a destination outside the U.S.). Here, the rule of thumb is about 21″, and NOT the 22″ and above carry-on size. As with any rule, exceptions abound and it is a good idea to visit the site of all of the carriers you plan to use while abroad to get a consensus.
Weight a minute
Weight is another thing we had to consider. Ryanair allowed up to 10 kg on a carryon luggage (this is roughly 22 lbs.) We borrowed a weighing scale from the front desk during our hotel stay in Rome. Prior to our flight from Rome to the UK, we weighed our luggage and we were right around 9 kgs per luggage. So I was not worried about the weight so much.
Expect the unexpected
All of our other flights around Rome were with United and Lufthansa. This is what United had posted regarding United’s Carryon Baggage Policy.
Interestingly enough, there was no specific mention about the weight, but I made sure before we left the US, that our baggage wasn’t overweight.
Lufthansa, on the other hand, allowed 1 piece of carry-on baggage up to 8 kg. On our flight from Frankfurt to Rome via Lufthansa, the gate attendant flagged our carryons as being too big (through her visual assessment). I had no qualms about our luggage getting flagged by Lufthansa since the only setback would be for them to take the luggage and that we’d have to get them at baggage claim. But that experience triggered some upcoming anxieties for me with our flight with Ryanair which was scheduled 4 days later. I had all of these “what if” scenarios that went through my mind. “What if Ryanair flags it? How much will we be charged knowing that we didn’t pay for our luggage service ahead of time.”
During our stay in Rome, I entertained the idea of getting 2 new smaller pieces of carryon luggage that would easily pass the visual test – the ones where the agent would not even want to question us. However, I scratched the idea. I ended up not buying new luggage. If we squeezed the luggage well enough in the Ryanair baggage check unit, maybe we’d pass.
Ryanair surprise, surprise
After packing the night before our flight to Rome, after weighing our luggage to make sure that we didn’t go over 10 kg, Maddie and I hoped for the best when we made our way to Rome’s Ciampino Airport. We left our hotel quite early to make it to our 6:50am flight to Manchester in the UK. For this baggage challenge, in my mind, we had to get checked by the following Ryanair agents:
- Visa check counter (inside the main terminal)
- Gate agent before boarding the plane
- Ryanair flight attendants
So I hoped that we’d pass all of their visual tests should they see our US domestic-sized luggage.
Upon arriving at Rome Ciampino Airport, the Ryanair counter was already open and my nerves got to me. I couldn’t find our passports in my backpack. This was not going well. We were already in line, about to be helped next. I decided to leave the line, I went off to the side to open up our backpacks. The thought of losing or leaving our passports back in the hotel room would be extremely catastrophic. I searched our backpacks a couple of times and nothing turned up. I emptied the contents, and bam, there they were, our passports. Okay, let’s move back to the agent.
He greeted me and checked our passports and boarding passes. Asked if we were checking any luggage, and when I said no, he nodded and directed me to go ahead and go through security. Baggage crisis averted? Well, in my mind, visa check counter – passed! Now, lets get through having the gate agents check us in before boarding the plane.
We had about an hour to kill before boarding began. I looked at the sea of carryons and sure enough, the other carryons were visually smaller, skinnier. Not ours, it was bulky and chunky when compared to the others.
Finally, time to get us checked at the gate before riding the shuttle to board the plane. I was expecting one agent to check but as luck would have it, two agents checked us. The first agent walked our line, and issued luggage tags. The ones ahead of me had smaller/skinnier luggage, and their tags were issued with no problems.
The agent came to us, asked for our passports and boarding passes, wrote on a couple of tags, and wrapped the tags on our carryon and she moved on. Whoa! That was it. No questions asked.
One more agent at the actual counter asked to see our passports and boarding passes, and we were told to go to the shuttle. Again, no questions asked.
We boarded the shuttle and within a couple of minutes we were taken to our plane. There were a couple of trailers there with lots of luggage with similar tags, so I left ours with the rest of the pack. Looking at the picture below, ours were the 2 silver carryons.