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Comparing Europe's Top Budget Airlines: Ryanair vs. EasyJet

Making a choice between two well-known budget airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet can present a challenging decision. Whether you're embarking on a long-distance journey or seeking a spontaneous escape, gaining insight into the unique features of these airlines can assist you in making the optimal selection for your travel requirements.

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By Eglė

Published: Jul 28, 20236 min read

Comparing Europe's Top Budget Airlines: Ryanair vs. EasyJet

Over the past few decades, the rapid increase in air travel has led to a significant rise in the importance and prevalence of low-cost airlines worldwide. In Europe, two highly renowned low-cost carriers come to mind: Ryanair, headquartered in Ireland, and EasyJet, based in the UK. Both airlines have earned reputations for being among the most affordable options globally, serving a wide array of destinations throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa.

But when faced with the choice between Ryanair and EasyJet, which airline should you prefer? Are both equally reliable? Which one offers a better deal and a superior flight experience?

Ryanair Pros:  Unbeatable Affordability and Punctuality

Ryanair, the renowned Irish low-cost airline, unquestionably stands out for offering the most budget-friendly fares in the industry. Within Europe, it's not uncommon to stumble upon Ryanair flights starting as low as 10 or even 8 euros. Remarkably, I have personally experienced flying from Kaunas to Cologne for a mere 11 euros and from Frankfurt to Milan for just 25 euros with Ryanair.

Even with the impact of the pandemic in recent years, Ryanair's prices have only seen marginal increases, and to this day, you can still find flights ranging between 10 and 40 euros. When it comes to affordable flight fares, Ryanair remains unmatched not only in Europe but possibly in the entire world.

Another major advantage of flying with Ryanair is their unwavering punctuality. The airline has built a reputation for always adhering to their scheduled arrival times. Despite occasional departures that may be slightly delayed by 10 or 15 minutes, they manage to compensate and arrive exactly as planned. This level of reliability is particularly reassuring for business travelers with tight schedules, making Ryanair a trustworthy option in such situations.

In summary, Ryanair's combination of unbeatable affordability and consistent punctuality makes it a compelling choice for travelers seeking the most cost-effective and reliable flights across Europe.

Ryanair Drawbacks in Baggage Policy and Inconvenient Flight Timings

While Ryanair may appear astonishingly affordable at first glance, their cost-effectiveness diminishes significantly if you carry anything beyond the bare essentials. The airline enforces a stringent free carry-on allowance, permitting only a personal bag of up to 10kg. Trust me, they are often weighing carry-on bags, so beware, because you must pay a lot for extra kilograms. Your cheap flight ticket can turn out to be not so cheap after extra charges for extra carry-on weight. For short weekend getaways or business trips, adhering to this rule is manageable. However, the moment you embark on a more extended adventure or require a larger bag, brace yourself for a substantial increase in your flight ticket cost.

While it's true that most airlines charge additional fees for extra baggage or checked luggage, Ryanair not only has one of the strictest carry-on allowances but also boasts one of the costliest carry-on options for those who choose to bring more items along. Therefore, Ryanair may not be the best choice if you plan on an extended journey with additional baggage.

Furthermore, another significant drawback of flying with Ryanair is their flight timings. While they consistently arrive on time, the reason behind their exceptionally low fares becomes evident: they schedule departures at the most inconvenient hours. Flights with Ryanair usually take off either in extremely early morning hours, well before sunrise between 5 and 6 a.m., or at the latest possible time, typically between 10 and 11 p.m. As someone who has traveled extensively, I've learned that flight prices tend to increase as departure times become more desirable and convenient.

Ryanair's affordability primarily hinges on their decision to operate flights at the least favorable times, meaning you'll either find yourself at the airport before dawn or arriving at your destination after midnight. For those seeking more comfortable flight schedules, this aspect might prove to be a significant drawback.

Comparing Europe's Top Budget Airlines: Ryanair vs. EasyJet RatePunk 1

EasyJet - Outshining Ryanair in Three Key Aspects

When it comes to pros, EasyJet holds a significant edge over its major rival, Ryanair, in three crucial areas: carry-on allowance, flight departure times, and overall comfort.

Firstly, EasyJet provides its customers with greater freedom regarding carry-on policies. Their allowance for free carry-on is more generous compared to their competitors, allowing up to 15 kg, which makes a substantial difference. Furthermore, should you decide to bring an additional carry-on bag, the price of your flight won't experience the same drastic increase as it would with Ryanair. In terms of carry-on allowances, EasyJet unquestionably emerges as the winner.

Secondly, EasyJet offers far more convenient flight departure schedules, unlike Ryanair's early morning or late-night departures. EasyJet flights are better tailored to suit passengers' needs, mostly departing throughout the day between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. This thoughtful approach to flight timings further sets EasyJet apart.

Finally, the comfort and overall flight experience provided by EasyJet surpass that of Ryanair. EasyJet flights offer more legroom and more comfortable seats, creating an ambiance that doesn't feel like your typical budget airline. Unlike Ryanair, where comfort may be compromised to match the lower fares, EasyJet ensures that passengers have a more pleasant journey.

In summary, EasyJet clearly outshines Ryanair in these three critical aspects, offering a more generous carry-on allowance, more convenient flight schedules, and a superior level of comfort during the entire flying experience.

EasyJet Downsides: Pricing & Delays

While EasyJet boasts numerous advantages, it's important to acknowledge that the British budget airline does have two notable downsides in comparison to its Irish counterpart, Ryanair.

First and foremost, when it comes to pricing, Ryanair indisputably takes the lead. For those who prioritize securing the absolute cheapest deal and aren't concerned about departure times, comfort, or carry-on allowances, Ryanair remains unmatched. While EasyJet also offers incredibly affordable flight prices, they typically start at around 30-40 euros, a bit higher than Ryanair's starting fares of 10 euros. This price difference is largely influenced by the more convenient departure times that EasyJet provides to its passengers compared to Ryanair.

Although the price discrepancy might not be substantial, the more significant downside of EasyJet compared to Ryanair lies in its punctuality. In stark contrast to Ryanair's reputation for punctuality, EasyJet has a track record of frequently experiencing delays in both departures and arrivals. On two separate occasions during my experiences with EasyJet, the plane remained stuck on the tarmac for over an hour after boarding was completed on time, resulting in delayed departures. Additionally, on other instances, boarding was concluded nearly an hour later than planned. Thus, it's safe to say that when flying with EasyJet, arriving on time should not be expected, and it might even be advisable to arrive at the airport as late as possible to minimize waiting time.

Ryanair may win in offering the cheapest deals, but EasyJet provides a better flight experience overall. With more lenient carry-on policies, increased comfort, and improved schedules, EasyJet caters to the needs of passionate travelers. Nevertheless, the answer varies based on your priorities when considering budget airlines.

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