Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A brief interlude about flying with a terrible airline, Ryan Air

In case you forgot, allow me refresh your memory about our condition at the end of my last post.

"At this point, we were completely exhausted. In fact, Vicky was sick. We were really hoping Barcelona would be relaxing so we could both recover. And it was. Getting there, however, was another matter."

The reason for this ominous warning was Ryan Air.  This is what I wrote about it right after the incident happened.

Wow was that ever a mess! We just had a preflight to make us swear off ever taking Ryan Air again.  We caught the bus way out to an airport that's basically a Ryan Air only airport. It took about an hour and forty five minutes to get there. But we left early so we arrived with an hour twenty to spare. It was barely enough. 

Because we're not EU citizens, we had to go to the check-in counter even though we checked in online. The line was moving horrifically slowly because of Ryan air's cabin bag rules. You get 1 bag, not a bag and a personal item. Everything must go in one bag.  It must weigh less than 10kg. It must fit in those tiny bins every airline has that nothing fits in. 

So the desk clerk was rejecting bags and forcing people to pay big fees to check bags and it was making the line crawl. We waited in line until the desk was supposed to close in 10 minutes. The line behind us alone would have taken another 90 minutes at that rate. And we knew our bags were a little too big and heavy (11kg instead of 10), and we were bracing for the huge fee to check the bags and the possibility of us missing our flight while trying to get it done. We were resigned to paying the fees if we had to.

Around then they opened a new line. Hoping the desk clerk wouldn't be such a slow prick, we changed lines. Finally they approved our passports and sent us to security.  Yay.  We had saved $150 and wouldn't miss our flight.

Except security was run by them too. By now we thought the flight had been boarding for 40 minutes and was about to leave. So we were semi-panicking. Security didn't help. 

They were slowly checking tickets and making people check their bag size and weight again. Vicky's bag mostly fit in their tiny bin and we told them mine was the same size. But they wanted us to weigh them. As we expected, hers was 11kg and mine 12kg. The security guy then tried to tell us to go check out bags which set Vicky off. She told him we've flown with these all over Europe with Ryan air with no problem and we'd miss our flight if we had to check them.  He told us, so you'll miss your flight over 1 or 2 kilograms.  That didn't help. Finally after more yelling by Vicky, he let us go while telling us if we are nicer, he will like us and let us through no problem. Much skepticism. 

The actual security part was the only easy thing about this experience. Just a normal security check. 

When we got through all this, hoping the plane hadn't left, we found that no one had boarded and the plane was late. But of course they didn't announce it. So we found ourselves waiting at the end of a huge line to board (no assigned seats, remember).

Finally about half an hour, we finally got through the last check and boarded.  We've flown with Ryan air twice on this trip and arrived over an hour late once and were harassed the other. Also the no assigned seats is incredibly annoying. It produces lines to board over an hour before the flight. 

Our problem was less with the money it would have cost to check our bags (though $150 isn't small change) and more with the attitude of the workers and the incompetence of the company.  Forcing non-EU citizens to get their passports reviewed at checkin even when you checkin online is idiotic since no other airlines require this.  Having only 1 line for a flight is insane (doubly so when you factor in the mandatory passport checks).  Weighing and checking every bag in that line, right down to purses, just guarantees that the line doesn't move.  That combined with a completely dismissive attitude towards the passengers ensures that angry people won't be in short supply.  I know it's all in the name of trying to save money but that isn't an excuse.

In short, we shall do everything in our power never to fly with them again! 

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