Traveling Through Europe: Ryanair

If you think the Deutsche Bahn has some serious issues going on, be up for a surprise! I have yet to write about Ryanair.

Since being in Europe makes it incredibly convenient to hop from one country to another, I was curious to visit an (to me) unfamiliar city for the time being. My choices were Berlin, the German capital I myself have never been to, and London, the British metropolis everyone wants to see once during their lifetime. When checking prices and transport from the Eifel to Berlin and London, I came to find that it seemed a lot less complicated to take a flight out to London than to throw myself into the German railroad bureaucracy. The fact that a Ryanair airport was less than an-hour-drive away from my parents’ house proofed to be the better option of those two. How little did I know…

Ryanair is a popular Irish airline known for its inexpensive fares and packages and which can fly you out to 44 main destinations throughout Europe. Partly a reason their prices are so moderate is that their airports lie nowhere close to the center of these European cities. Flying with them still ends up being a bargain even if you calculate commute costs to and from the airport.

When departing from Germany , you have the choice between Berlin, Düsseldorf, and a town called Hahn, which lies about one and a half hours from Frankfurt (beware travelers, for it is not close to the international airport of FRA; however the airline does provide a shuttle bus in that direction, not free of cost). Flying out from Frankfurt-Hahn didn’t pose too much of a problem to me. Carry-on is restricted to one bag only, so if you have a small suitcase and a purse, they want you to stuff your purse into your suitcase. Seems simple enough, and I managed to do all of this just right, without exceeding the 10 kilo (22 pounds ) weight limit Ryanair claims. Having only experienced three Ryanair flights (both to Austria) in the previous years, I already knew that the departure would either be late or very late. This time I was lucky as Ryanair was “only” one hour behind its schedule (compared to those two hours I waited in Bratislava two years ago quite a relief, I have to say) and I was distracted by an old British couple standing in line who gave me plenty of insider tips on London.

To get from Stansted to London is not too complicated, either. You can just take a shuttle, which will be on the road anywhere from one and a half to over two hours depending on traffic, or the National Rail, which is certainly the fastest option (and the more expensive one).

Stansted is one of the bigger Ryanair airports with its over 200 gates, as it also hosts other cheap European airlines. So on my way back it took me quite some time to find the right terminal and gate. When I finally arrived at the right section, I already saw the passengers standing in line for boarding. I stepped to the end of this queue, relieved to be here and on one step closer to home. But the next thing I know a Ryanair employee (not a steward) approaches me and demands me to put my carry-on bag into the measurement boxes provided at the gate. Sure enough, I successfully stuff it into it, having my purse and camera bag on me, though. He then asks me to put everything into carry-on, and I carefully swing my camera round my neck, as I am afraid of damaging it when stuffing it into the suitcase. Usually no one cares. It’s an item comparable to a cell phone which you simply carry with you on your body. Hahn-employees definitely did not bother themselves with this detail. But this guy is tough, or at least he thinks he is. He demands me to put it into the suitcase right away. I then make it clear to him that if anything breaks I will make him responsible for it. Might not have been the calmest reaction from my side, but hey, I did not spend hundreds of dollars on this thing to have it smashed because of the meticulous guide lines of a cheap airline. Surprisingly everything goes well and the suitcase still fits, after having been put it into the box three times during this whole procedure, and the guy has no further comment. I thought this little episode would have been the end to it all and that by now I could peacefully board the plane.

As I am in line again and show my ticket to the same rude employee mentioned above he plays the same game again and wants me to put everything into the measurement basket once more. I almost cannot believe it and I coolly tell him he just witnessed how it had fit. He wants to see it again. So the entire story repeats itself, with me now being slightly irritated and not in the best mood. Two other Ryanair clowns stand close by, watching every move, while the other one tells them they have to make sure my camera is in that bag. Most definitely one of the rudest remarks at that time. I try to put it into the measurement box but this time it mysteriously does not fit. One woman smirks and exclaims I have to pay 40 pounds now. I laugh at her and tell her I am not done yet. I then rearrange all my clothes and give it another shot. Still does not fit. Both employees want their 40 GBP now. What a show! I then discover another box, the one I had used previously, and ask them if I can use this one instead. They exchange worried looks but agree and surely enough this time my suitcase fits, maybe a bit tight, but I can shove it in and out. How weird, isn’t it? I then look at the woman and tell her there won’t be any 40 GBP for her. I then tell the girls behind me, who have also been pulled aside, that they should try out this box, while the employee is scrambling for excuses for them to try out the other. “No, they are both the same size!” she repeats madly. I look her in the eye and calmly say: “I just proved they are not, lady!” and when I am safely out of her execution zone I don’t fail to shout to the girls: “They only want to rip you off!”

To conclude this unnecessary happening: Taking Ryanair from Germany was fine. But flying out with them from Stansted proved to be a nightmare! I don’t know if these goof-offs get paid based on a commission or if they are threatened to be fired if they don’t detect a certain amount of oversized carry-ons per flight. Those 30 minutes at the airport meant more stress than I’ve experienced in those total 4 days in London. Not a good thing, I’d say. Harrassing paying passengers seems to be a given thing with this airline if you want to fly cheap in Europe. So if you want to go through the stress and hassle of dealing with completely incompetent and money-hungry Ryanair employees, then go ahead, but I doubt I ever want to see their stupid faces in my entire life again! A big buuuuuh to this company , and I hope someone files a big complaint against them for the ridiculous things they try to pull off with their (paying!) customers.