Tips for Flying With Ryanair That Will Save You Money

ryanair plane
by Anisa // 8 Comments

I have a love-hate relationship with Ryanair.  I love that they offer so many cheap flights to amazing destinations, but hate all the fees and customer service issues.  Still, I want to travel as much as possible and they have more routes at lower prices than other airlines especially flying out of London’s Stansted Airport.  

We have used them to fly to Riga, Colmar (via Basel), Lisbon, Hamburg, Venice, Malaga, and the Algarve. I have become a Ryanair frequent flyer! Based on my experience, here are my tips for flying with Ryanair so that you don’t have to learn the hard way.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.  Please see disclosure for more information.

Airport Flight Board
Ryanair is different than more other airlines you can choose when you travel.

Tips for Traveling on Ryanair

Flying Ryanair is not like flying on any other airline.  They’ve got their own way of doing things, which can be a bit confusing, especially if you’re flying with them for the first time or you’re not an EU citizen.  If you make a mistake, it can be costly. That’s why it’s important to read my advice for flying Ryanair before booking any travel with them.

If you are organizing a trip, you might also want to check out my printable travel planner.

Search for Flights on the Ryanair Website

It is easy to find cheap flights using  If you know where you want to go and when then search for your flight using the “Search Flights” option under the Plan menu.  It’s similar to many other airline websites, where you input the departure airport, destination airport, dates, and how many travelers.

Sometimes though, you want to get away but you are not sure where to go.  Maybe you have a very tight budget. If that is the case, try the “Fare Finder” option under the Plan menu.

Just put in your departure airport and budget and find out all the options that fit.  You can also specify the timing if you already have an idea of when you are looking to travel. I have seen flights as low as €4.98 each way.   It’s also helped me discover some cities that I never ever heard of!

Remember that these prices do not include any extra fees so, in the end, the price will be higher. 

Ryanair Fare Finder Screen Shot

Book Your Flight in Advance

Just like with most airlines, your best shot at snagging great deals with Ryanair is by booking well in advance. Don’t forget to subscribe to their email newsletter (or follow them on social media) and keep an eye out for those sales – that’s when you can score those unbelievably cheap tickets.

Check the Airport Locations

Checking the airport Ryanair uses for your destination is crucial, as it might be situated farther from your intended city. For instance, they only fly to London Stansted, which is more distant compared to London Heathrow, Gatwick, or London City Airports.  This is one way they keep their costs down.

While this doesn’t deter me from flying with them, it’s essential to factor in the cost and additional time required to reach and depart from that specific airport.

Pay Attention to the Fare Type When Booking Travel With Ryanair

You need to pay extra attention when booking flights with Ryanair.  There are several different options and it can be confusing, so I am going to break it down here.  

First, just like other airlines, you need to put in the airport you want to fly from and the airport you want to fly to along with the dates and number of passengers.  Then on the next screen, choose the time and the fare type.

For fare type on Ryanair flights, there are the following options:

Standard – This is your cheapest option.  It only includes the flight and one small cabin bag (40cm x 20cm x 25cm).  A purse counts as a small cabin bag.  This is much stricter than the baggage rules on most US airlines. Our rolling backpack was too big.  I actually bought this small backpack to make sure I could comply with the size restrictions.   It slightly bigger than the measurements but can be squeezed into the sizer if it’s not stuffed full.  Baggage (or other extras) can be added for an additional fee.

Plus – With the plus fare you get priority boarding, two cabin bags (one small bag measuring 40cm x 20cm x 25cm and one larger bag not exceeding 10kg and 55cm x 40cm x 20cm), a reserved standard seat, and a 20 kg checked bag.  Again, the bags I used in the US are larger than the ones that Ryanair allows. For the small bag, I bought this compact backpack. For the larger carry on bag, you need something like this one that also has a USB charging port.

Family Plus – If you are booking a flight with children, there is the option to book a Family Plus fare.  That gives you priority boarding, two Cabin Bags(one small bag measuring 40cm x 20cm x 25cm and one larger bag not exceeding 10kg and 55cm x 40cm x 20cm), two 20kg checked bags, and free seats for the children.  You have to pay a small additional fee to choose the standard seats for adults and then the kids are assigned seat by you for no additional charge.

Flexi-Plus – The Flexi-Plus fare includes priority boarding, two cabin bags (one small bag measuring 40cm x 20cm x 25cm and one larger bag not exceeding 10kg and 55cm x 40cm x 20cm), any reserved seat, security fast track, free airport check-in at the Flexi-Plus desk (shorter lines!), and a flexible ticket.  The flexible ticket gives you the option to make some changes to your flight time, destination, or departure airport at no extra cost.

This table shows a visual comparison of the Ryanair fare types.

Ryanair Fare Type Comparison Chart by Two Traveling Texans

Don’t Buy All the Ryanair Extras

After you have chosen your fare type, Ryanair will try to entice you with some “extras.”  I will explain what they offer and help you decide which ones are worth it.

Ryanair Baggage Fees

As of November 2018, Ryanair’s luggage policy is that passengers only get one small carry on bag (a handbag counts) for free unless they pay for one of the plus fare types.  You can add additional luggage to any ticket and it is cheapest to do this before you get to the airport.

If you are wondering if Ryanair is strict with baggage allowances, I would say for the most part yes.  It’s best not to try to take on extra luggage because if they enforce the rules, the charges are the gate can be high.

Anisa with small backpack to carry on Ryanair
Anisa with her backpack that meets the Ryanair small carry on limits.

To determine if you need to pay for more luggage check to see what is already included with your fare type first. For example, if you bought the Plus fare it includes two cabin bags and one 20 kg checked bag.  You only need to add luggage if you want to check two bags.

If you do want to add baggage, the options are:

Two Cabin Bags (one small and one overhead bag): All fares come with one small cabin bag so, in reality, this is letting you bring a second bag that weighs 10kg (or less) and measures (no more than) 55 cm x 40 cm x 20 cm.  It costs between €/£6 to €/£10 each way and also includes priority boarding.

10 kg Checked Bag – For between €/£10 to €/£ 12 each way, you can add a 10 kg checked bag.  This does not include priority boarding. Since it is more expensive than the option above (and doesn’t include priority boarding), it doesn’t make much sense to get this option unless your bag is larger than the carry on dimensions.  If you need to add a bag but did not book it online, purchase this 10kg bag option at the airport bag drop desk for €/£20 or €/£25 at the boarding gate.

20 kg Checked Bag – Each passenger can add up to three 20 kg checked bags.  If purchased during the booking process it costs €/£25 or €/£40 if added later.  Make sure each bag does not exceed the weight limit or it will cost £/€11 per kilo that you are over. These prices are charged per bag each way.  Ryanair will not accept an individual item that weighs more than 32 kg or with dimensions of more than 81 cm x 119 cm x 119 cm.

Sports/Ski equipment, golf clubs, bikes, and musical instruments can be checked for an additional fee. Check the specific amounts here.

All these baggage fees are non-refundable. You also cannot switch to another baggage type once you have purchased it.  Instead, you would have to pay an additional baggage fee.

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Security Fast Track

For a fee, you can pay to skip the line at the security checkpoint.  You still have to take out your computer, remove your liquids, etc, but it does save the time of waiting in the line.  

Some airports are worse than others and the wait time can vary depending on the day and time. Ryanair seems to always tell me that security will be busy at the time I am flying, but I think that it is just a sales tactic.  I’m not buying it. I can stand in line if I have to. So far, the longest I have had to wait is 25 minutes.

Not all airports will have a fast track option.  Ryanair also mentions on their FAQs that you still need to allow enough time to go through security and they will not be responsible for missed flights.

Seat Assignments

I also refuse to pay extra for an assigned seat even when I am traveling with my husband.  Ryanair tends to randomly assign us at opposite ends of the planes. Several times we have had empty seats next to at least one of us so that we could easily move to be together.  

In other cases, I have asked people to switch so we could sit together – we always offer a window or aisle seat for a middle so it’s a win-win. Then there was one time where we both had middle seats.  Luckily the people sitting next to Russell moved to sit with their travel partners and left their seats for me. So far we have had good luck still being able to sit together without paying for assigned seats!

The fee for seat assignments varies depending on the type of seat you want.  They have standard seats, front seats, and extra legroom seats. There is also a different fee for the mandatory family seats.


You should consider booking parking through Ryanair if you are driving to the airport.  I found that the parking Ryanair offered me at Stansted Airport has been cheaper than what I found on other websites.

The other thing that is nice is that since you have booked through Ryanair, I think they communicate with the parking systems if there are any problems.  When we arrived home over a day late because of a canceled flight, we didn’t have to pay anything extra.

Travel Insurance

As an EU airline, Ryanair is subject to the EU Flight Compensation rules, but you still need travel insurance.  I can’t say I recommend buying travel insurance through Ryanair, although it is reasonably priced.  

You can find much better options through another source like Travel Insurance Master. I did have to use the Ryanair insurance once and I did get the compensation I deserved but that was after countless frustrating emails back and forth.

Rental Cars

Ryanair has the option to book rental cars as an add-on to your flight.  I have not tried this option, but I would recommend checking other car rental websites like Clarify Car Hire or Rental Cars Dot Com to compare prices.  Don’t forget to make sure you have the appropriate insurance.

Hotels and Flight Credit

If you haven’t booked accommodation yet, you can book it through Ryanair when booking a flight.  Ryanair offers flight credit for 5% of what you spend on a hotel.

This means that when you book your next flight you can get a discount of 5% of what you paid for hotel on your previous trip.  Before booking your hotel through the Ryanair website be sure to compare prices on the hotel’s website and other hotel sites like booking .com or hotels .com to verify that the 5% flight credit is worth it.

Watch out for Credit Card Fees

Ryanair will charge a small fee for processing some credit cards.   This will be added as a small line item in the bill after you enter your payment information so it is a bit sneaky.  If after you enter your payment information you see this fee, try paying by PayPal instead.  It allows you to use the same credit card but avoids the processing fee.

Mistakes to Avoid When You Travel On Ryanair

In addition to booking the flight with the right extras, there are a few other things you need to be aware of when you fly Ryanair.  

Don’t Bring Too Much Baggage

First, make sure the luggage you packed is within the restrictions. (Check out our packing tips to help reduce the amount you bring).

For carry on bags, check the weight and measurements to make sure you are in compliance.  Do this as soon as possible – ideally before heading to the airport.

I have seen gate agents ask passengers to put their bags in the sizers. If they decide that your cabin baggage is too large it may go on the plane with the other checked baggage (if possible) for a fee of €/£50 or they could even refuse to take it.

If you need to add more luggage, the sooner you do it the cheaper it will be. It will be most expensive if you are forced to pay for more/larger bags at the airport.  

Check-In for Your Flight In Advance

Make sure you check in before getting to the airport (and at least two hours before flight time) or there is a €/£55 fee (unless you purchased the Flexi-Plus fare).

When you check in, Ryanair will again try to sell you more baggage and other extras.  Look very carefully to see what you already purchased. Be careful not to buy another bag if you have already purchased one.

Print Your Ryanair Boarding Pass

If you are not an EU citizen, make sure you print out your boarding pass.  Ryanair requires non-EU citizens to do a VISA check before passing through security.  

Basically, you have to go to a desk where they check your passport and either initial or stamp your boarding pass.  If you don’t have a boarding pass printed, they charge €/£25. EU citizens can use an electronic boarding pass from the Ryanair app.

Depending on your fare type and extras, you may not be allowed to check in until 48 hours before the flight.  You may need to figure out a way to get the boarding pass printed while you are traveling.  In most cases, your hotel might be willing to help out.

You board Ryanair flights from the tarmac, they usually also have stairs at the back of the plane too.
You board Ryanair flights from the tarmac, they usually also have stairs at the back of the plane too.

The Ryanair Boarding Process

Typically, Ryanair will announce the gate assignment one hour before the flight is scheduled to leave.  At that time, head to the gate. There will be two lines – one for priority customers and one for everyone else.  With the new changes, the priority line tends to be longer than the non-priority one.

Ryanair sometimes starts boarding before the plane even arrives.  They start checking boarding passes and luggage and then have everyone lined up ready to get on the plane.  Normally, they do not use a jetbridge and instead have stairs at both the front and the back of the plane. Your boarding pass will tell you which door to use.

Tips to Improve Your Ryanair In-Flight Experience

Curious about the Ryanair flying experience? Well, when you hop aboard a Ryanair flight, it’s evident that it’s a budget-friendly airline. Space is at a premium, and those seats don’t recline. But fear not, as these handy Ryanair tips might just save the day.

The headrest does not have any wings, so a travel neck pillow will make it much more comfortable to sleep.  

If you tend to get cold, bring your own blanket or maybe a sweater or scarf like this one with pockets.

The interior of the plane is covered with advertisements – the trays, seat back, and overhead compartments. The inflight magazine is more like a catalog, which they will give you for free. There aren’t any seatback pockets.

Ryanair seat with safety instructions and advertisement
The safety information is on the seat in front of you since there is no seat back pocket, along with advertisements.

You have to buy all drinks on the plane (yes, including bottled water and other non-alcoholic beverages) so it may be better to either fill-up a re-usable water bottle (like this one) after security or buy a drink before boarding.  You can buy snacks too, but again I think it’s better to pack your own.  Drinks cost around €3/£3 and snacks like chips start at €2/£2.

The flight attendants won’t be passing out headphones, so be sure to bring those too (like these here). There is no in-flight entertainment so download podcasts, books, movies, etc before boarding. (Amazon Prime has lots of options).  Ryanair doesn’t even offer the option to purchase Wi-Fi.

Does Ryanair have a Frequent Flyer Program?

Similar to many other European low cost airlines, Ryanair does not have a Customer Loyalty or Frequent Flyer Program.  I don’t see this changing any time soon.  The closest thing they offer to that is the flight credit for purchasing hotels. 

Is Ryanair Worth It?

With all the extra fees and confusing policies, you may wonder if it is worth flying Ryanair? Well, it may not be my top airline pick, but if you’re looking for an affordable way to explore Europe, Ryanair has the most options at the best prices. Once you’ve got the hang of traveling with them, it can help to stretch your travel budget.

Do you have any other tips for flying on Ryanair?


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wing of Ryanair plane with text overlay

Expert Tips for Flying With Ryanair

  • Use the Ryanair Fare Finder to discover new destinations and find travel deals.
  • Think about the baggage requirements before booking a flight and measure/weigh your bags before heading to the airport.
  • Most of the extras that Ryanair offers are not necessary.
  • Print your boarding pass if you are a non-EU citizen.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2023

About the Author

Anisa is an experienced international traveler with extra pages in her passport and stamps from 41 different countries across 5 continents (and counting). She was born and raised in Texas. After a 13 year stint in NYC, she moved to England to live with her husband.