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Damian Corrigan

Ryanair v easyJet Price Comparison

By May 25, 2009

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Once a year or so, I put together a price comparison of Ryanair and easyJet to see which of Europe's biggest budget airlines has the cheapest flights to Spain. Ryanair have the reputation of having inferior customer services and a booking system loaded with extra costs that make the final amount you pay considerably higher than the advertised cost. But most people are under the impression that even after the extras have been added on the price is still lower than their rivals'. However, my previous two price comparisons have found this not to be the case - easyJet have beaten Ryanair on both previous occasions.

This year I have decided to go one step further and do three price comparisons - one for a last-minute, midweek business trip, another for a reasonably short-notice long weekend as well as one for a summer vacation (booked months in advance). With the recent shake-ups in the aviation industry (many airlines have gone under, leaving Ryanair and easyJet with less competition but with more need to compete for passengers in the current economic climate), who will win this time?

Update: Following this post, Ryanair's Head of Communications, Stephen McNamara, was kind enough to get in touch and respond to this Ryanair v easyJet Price comparison. You can read his comment below (comment #23) and my responses (#24). He also answered some other questions I put to him. You can see these responses here:

Comments
May 25, 2009 at 9:42 am
(1) Leonardo says:

one of the hundred posibbilities.

London stansted – Milan 16/06/08 or 17/06/08 4€

Milan – London stansted 22/06/08 or 23/06/08 4€

total price with hand bag of 10KG: 8€

Make a comparison with that

of course, if I have 12 bags, and I buy 5 pizzas in the plane, I will have to pay 500€

May 25, 2009 at 10:58 am
(2) Stormi says:

Well, it is obvious that this guy doesn’t like Ryanair a lot.

Maybe he doesn’t know that in some occasions Ryanair pays even your taxes. Las year I had a flight for 4 from Barcelona to Rome which costed us 4 cents of Euro. We checked in online, we didn’t eat anything on board, payed with a Visa Electron which is free to get and brought only hand luggage for a 2 weeks stay.

That’s 1 cent of Euro per person. Can Easyjet beat that? Never. Probably Ryanair is not for the ones that need a bit of luxury, but if you are really on a budget you know Ryanair is and will always be the best option.

May 25, 2009 at 11:10 am
(3) gospain says:

The intention of this price comparison was for ‘normal’ flights to Spain. I chose three normal scenaries – short/medium/long notice and three normal trip types – midweek, weekend, summer vacation. I chose a variety of baggage options – hand luggage only and checked luggage. I have not sought the most expensive flights as you seem to suggest.

I do not have a problem with Ryanair – I want consumers to have cheapest and most transparent fares. I haven’t even got on to the potential problems one could run into when they check in if they break any of Ryanair’s rules.

Leonardo, your ‘twelve bags and five pizzas’ scenario is not like any of my examples. No one is carrying more than the two bags that most people take on vacation.

Yes, Stormi, you CAN get these amazingly good fares. It is word of mouth from those of you who manage to get these fares that gives Ryanair the reputation that they are always the cheapest when they really are not.

How are the fares you are speaking of possible, Stormi? Because someone else is paying through the nose.

May 25, 2009 at 9:19 pm
(4) bluey says:

That’s a nice piece of bias. Thanks. All you have to do is check the average revenue per passenger for each airline and you’ll find out that Ryanair is over 50% cheaper.

Where are you getting this Ryanair ‘advertised fare’ from? All taxes are included on the first page of booking and are not added on as you seem to be suggesting. The easyJet website automatically adds baggage fees and insurance which is against EU consumer laws. Ryanair doesn’t. EasyJet also has a ‘booking fee’ on top of credit card charges.

Would your couple each be able to lift 12 kilos of hand luggage into the overhead bins as per easyJet rules. Highly doubt it. Therefore they need to pay for their luggage.

I very rarely find easyJet cheaper and I always shop around. In fact, many of the flag carriers are cheaper.

It’s extremely ‘easy’ to find cheap Ryanair fares or use legitimate price comparison websites and it becomes plainly obvious who is cheaper and 9 out of 10 ten times it’s not easyJet.

Would you kindly address the issues especially the illegal ‘opt-out’ fees on the easyJet website.

May 25, 2009 at 11:28 pm
(5) Mark says:

Hahaha, looks like Ryanair are bashing bloggers again by posing as “Leonardi”, “Stormy” and “Bluey”. Let me see – wht colour are Ryanair? BLUE!

I was forced to check in my suitcase with RYanair recently because it was overweight but I could have lifted it easily. Who are you to say the strength and abilities of passengers? You sound like Oleary when he said “My passengers don’t need to use wheelchairs, they’re just lazy”.

May 26, 2009 at 4:39 am
(6) Richie69 says:

Yes, you could say this survey is a little biased, but I would say it was more ‘making a point’. As the writer says, these are not “12 bags and 5 pizzas” scenarios.

I am more interested in the costs that can be applied after you get to the airport. I travel frequently around Europe, sometimes flying Ryanair, sometimes not. (I find that Ryanair are cheaper to much of Europe but not to Spain – I don’t know why).

But I’ve started to feel a moral aversion to traveling with Ryanair. Recently I had was lucky to pay just 20 quid return to Berlin, but felt like I’d been feeding contaminated milk to Chinese babies when I spoke to the couple next to me. I don’t remember the exact details, but they had been forced to pay 100s extra. I think they had forgotten their boarding pass, which is 40 quid each (there were two of them) and one bag was a little too heavy, so they had to check that in, another £30. I think maybe they were also now way over their checked luggage limit, which meant another 10 quid or so for every kg they were over.

As someone said above – how can you (or in this case, *I*) get such low fares. Because someone else is paying too much.

I felt compelled to buy this poor couple breakfast as I really thought they had paid for my flight.

I

May 26, 2009 at 4:56 am
(7) Clarence says:

Sssh, Richie, that was meant to be a secret.

If you’re too stupid to travel on Ryanair, you shouldn’t be traveling. Well, no, actually, you SHOULD – because by you paying all the fees, you subsidise my flights to visit my partner in Paris.

Stop complaining. We live in a capitalist world. Ryanair charge you something and you pay for it! Your fault! So your 1p flight ends up being 80 quid. Ten years ago it would have been 150 quid! “But I can’t afford 80 quid, I can only afford 1p”, you say. Then don’t fly at all. You’re probably one of those people who eats at McDonalds on holiday because it’s cheaper. “But I was duped into paying the extras!” you say. No, you weren’t. Go back to school if you can’t read a website. If you really can’t afford to go abroad, then don’t! I’m fed up with seeing overweight British riff-raff trampling around Paris.

Ryanair has a great business model – smart people who can afford to travel get to travel frequently at a low price. People that can’t read are stung. Great!

This is how I travel with Ryanair (which I do three or four times a month). I book well in advance. I have a small bag so I don’t need to check in any luggage. I check in online. I don’t buy their travel insurance. I READ THE WEBSITE AS I BOOK! Not hard, if you went to school. I have even got my bank to give me an Electron which I use exclusively to get around the credit card fees on Ryanair.

It’s normally my taxes paying for lazy good-for-nothings to sit on their bottoms all day, it’s great that now those same wastes-of-space are paying for ME for a change.

May 26, 2009 at 4:58 am
(8) anon says:

Interesting that this seems to have become a class debate. But the side you would expect to be supported by the poorer people, Ryanair, is actually being supported by the better off people.

May 26, 2009 at 5:07 am
(9) gospain says:

bluey, you are right, easyJet does have more nasty opt-out clauses which are indeed illegal. Ryanair had the same until recently but they’ve done the good thing: http://www.holidaylettings.co.uk/travel-resources/travel-news/airline-and-transport-news/ryanair-to-ask-passengers-opt-in,-not-out,-of-travel-insurance-with-its-flights/a-3-145-1646/

When I come to write up the two websites in terms of easy of use, the result will be much closer, with maybe even Ryanair coming out on top.

May 26, 2009 at 5:41 am
(10) Drake says:
May 26, 2009 at 3:36 pm
(11) Vern says:

It’s a no brainer. Ryanair are not only cheaper but their timekeeping record is far superior to that of Jet 2 and many others. I just wish the professional Ryanair knockers would go away and form their own airline. Then they could read all the whinges about their own service. from all the whining expats and expense fiddling businessmen. Don’t like Ryanair – then don’t use them! Go pay a fortune to arrive late courtesy of BA.

May 27, 2009 at 5:09 am
(12) Alf G says:

Vern, you don’t get it, do you? You have evidently not been reading the comments above.

Why is the pricing with Ryanair not as transparent as with, say, BA? Because SOMEONE is falling for it. Otherwise they wouldn’t do it! So you are clued up enough to avoid the surcharges. What do you want – a medal? Others are not. Going on holiday shouldn’t be an intelligence test.

Really, your position is the same as Clarence’s (who, I find to be a vile excuse for an individual, but there you go) – you want everyone to keep quiet about the extra charges so you can keep making your savings.

You should both be ashamed of yourselves.

May 27, 2009 at 5:10 am
(13) Alf G says:

Plus, Vern – the time keeping record is so good because they add an extra 15 minutes to the advertised length of every journey. Clever marketing that I don’t believe you really fell for. You must work for them.

May 27, 2009 at 5:18 am
(14) Mark Lee says:

How about a comparison with the conventional airlines (BA, Air France, Lufthansa, et al)? I’ve often found them to be very close to or cheaper than Easy Jet / Ryanair in cost, especially when you factor in the cost of travel to / from the remote airports used by EasyJet / Ryanair.

And they don’t have flights at obscene times like 6am (when there’s no public transport to the airport).

I don’t think it’s necessarily a stupidity / intelligence debate. I’d consider myself to be of reasonable intelligence, but would rather maybe pay £10 / £20 extra per segment, and not have to travel to remote airports, spend my entire time at the airport queueing, be told that my cabin bag is 1cm too big, that food that I’ve bought at the airport constitutes a ‘second’ carry-on bag, etc etc, or face a fight to get statutory compensation if any checked luggage goes missing, or the flight is delayed… Fundamentally you have to be on your guard constantly with Ryanair to avoid being caught out, which makes flying more stressful. I’d rather do without the stress and have a more relaxed journey.

May 27, 2009 at 5:40 am
(15) Hanna says:

Too true, Mark.

But again, Ryanair are even worse than easyJet on this. easyJet fly to Barcelona’s main, or rather, ONLY airport, Ryanair describe airports 100km as ‘Barcelona’. Then they describe Bratislava as Vienna (or vice versa, not sure which is which) and Malmo as Copenhagen – these are even in different countries!

May 27, 2009 at 6:00 am
(16) Gordon Jones says:

Let’s drop the speculation, opinions and name calling – here are some indisputable facts about Ryanair and easyJet:

*Ryanair*
1) Their lack of an email address on their website is ILLEGAL in British law.

2) Charging a credit card fee for each flight when the fee appears as a single transaction on your credit card statement is ILLEGAL.

3) As mentioned above, listing airports that are 100km from the city causes great inconvenience to travelers and could potentially RUIN someone’s weekend away.

4) Ryanair’s new compulsory check-in fee makes it impossible to not pay a fee here. This makes it a compulsory fee. Compulsory fees must be included in the fare or they are ILLEGAL.

5) Charging people to take a bag of duty free onto the plane risks damaging the trade at the airports, which will in the long run drive up the fee paid by EVERY airline for landing at that airport as the authorities attempt to recoup these costs. These fees will be passed on to ALL passengers at the airport, not just Ryanair passengers.

6) Ryanair’s 15kg checked luggage fee is 5kg less than what can be described as the industry standard, which surely catches out unaware passengers.

7) Michael O’Leary is ACTUALLY the spawn of the devil.

*Easyjet*

1) They add luggage as standard when you book, forcing you to remove it if you don’t want to use it, which catches out unaware passengers.

2) They add on insurance as standard, which is ILLEGAL.

No amount of Ryanair or easyJet apologists can dispute any of these points. Least of all point 7. :-D

May 27, 2009 at 6:54 am
(17) Stormi says:

Well, a lot of discussion has been going on…

I always try to consider the facts which in the end are passenger numbers. If people doesn’t like an airline, they don’t fly it. Ryanair is the biggest carrier in the world and this is because people are happy with it. 60 million people who fly it every year can’t be all wrong!

So well, I understand that a lot of people who fly Ryanair also complain about Ryanair, but they keep flying it because it is convenient to them. I know a lot of people who is like that. But again, 60 million people can’t be wrong, so there must be something very good about the airline, you know?

May 27, 2009 at 6:58 am
(18) Stormi says:

In fact, there is something people like about them:

1. The price: whatever we say, I’ve flown Ryanair about 30 times and I’ve never payed more than 50 Euros.

2. Punctuality: They’re always on time, no way they arrive late. And it’s not a personal feeling, it’s on the statistic, the most punctual airline in Europe.

3. Fewest lost bags: Really, they’re the best in Europe with only 0.3 lost bags per every 1000, while the next one in the list is on 9 lost bags per 1000. A real difference.

4. Fewest cancellations: Again a European first position, if you book a flight with Ryanair, you have the maximum possibilities that you will actually depart on that flight. And that is good, mate, very good.

Apart from that, there’s a lot of tricks they play but if you are smart you know how to deal with them and you know how to play their game.

May 27, 2009 at 7:29 am
(19) Gordon Jones says:

Their aggressive marketing strategy (for some reason webmaster seems to have deleted my post about Advertising Standards complaints against Ryanair) means of course they have lots of passengers, many of which assume that all the extras are the same with each airline – they have heard from the Ryanair apologists that they are the cheapest airline in Europe and don’t challenge that. So it is good that blogs like this exist to put a spanner in the cheap travel plans of the likes of Stormi, Clarence and Vern, who get their cheap fares from other travelers’ misfortunes.

Stormi, some replies to your comments:

*Lost baggage*: it is not airlines that lose baggage, it’s baggage handlers – by flying to tiny airports where they drive the baggage 50 feet from the plane to the conveyor belt, of course they’re going to lose less bags than at giant airports where bags have to travel through numerous stages to get to back to you. Nothing to do with the quality of the airline.

*Punctuality* Ryanair’s travel times are longer than other airlines, so of course they can be more punctual.

So, now I’ve replied to some of your main points, would you like to reply to any of mine?

May 27, 2009 at 7:33 am
(20) gospain says:

Apologies, Gordon.

I had to alter your post because your comments could get me in trouble. Then there was a bit of a technical error and I had to delete it. The link you posted was this one:

http://www.brandrepublic.com/BrandRepublicNews/News/908502/OFT-investigation-halts-Ryanair-ad-complaints/?DCMP=EMC-DailyNewsBulletin

May 28, 2009 at 8:31 am
(21) F E Mattimoe says:

Ryanair?

“The no class airline”!; just about sums it up.

And yet STILL people swallow O´Leary´s mendacious hype.

May 28, 2009 at 11:32 am
(22) stefan says:

congratulations gordon you silenced the ryanair supporters.

i had never thought about it like that before but your right – airlines are powerless to stop baggage being lost.

your assessment of how it happens and how ryanair have their good stat is spot on.

May 29, 2009 at 5:47 am
(23) Stephen McNamara says:

(This comment was received by email from Ryanair’s Head of Communications asking for a ‘right to reply’. I’m not sure why they couldn’t post their reply here themselves.)

I have added numbers to the text (like this [1]) and will address these individual points in the follow up comment.


Dear David (sic)

Your article Ryanair vs. easyjet was flawed and clearly biased (especially the 12KG allowance when you know Ryanair allows 10KG for free – pathetic![1]) as you assumed that all Ryanair passengers and all easyjet passengers pay for all avoidable ancillary charges. Ryanair is undeniably Europe’s true low fares airline. Ryanair’s average fare, as confirmed in our latest accounts, is just €34 (including ancillary revenues such as checked baggage fees) while easyjet’s average fare almost DOUBLE at €66 (including ancillary revenues such as checked baggage fees).

In relation to your flawed and inaccurate article:

1. Advertised Price – all Ryanair advertised fares are inclusive of taxes and charges[2]. In the first page of our booking process passengers can clearly see the fare and the taxes and charges which apply to that seat – unlike easyjet which fails to provide this pro-consumer breakdown of fares vs. taxes and charges and fails to suggest possible lower fares.

2. Hand luggage allowance. Ryanair’s FREE hand luggage allowance of 10KG is extremely generous[3] and over 70% of Ryanair’s passengers travel with just hand luggage, thereby avoiding any baggage fees what-so-ever.

3. Check-in fees are not applicable to Ryanair’s promotional fares. Ryanair release 1 million promotion fares each week and 50% of our bookings are promotional fares such as Free, €1, €5 etc. Millions of passengers will pay no check-in fees and will travel at Europe’s lowest fares – on Ryanair.[4]

4. Credit/Debit card fees are entirely avoidable by using Visa Electron as a FREE form of payment. Contrary to your claims Visa Electron is widely available[5] in Europe and millions of passengers use Visa Electron to make books each day , in fact 25% of Ryanair’s passengers avoid payment handing fees by using Visa Electron when purchasing Europe’s lowest fares.

This year 67 million passengers will travel with Ryanair for our guaranteed lowest fares, unbeatable on-time performance[6], least mislaid baggage[7] and fewest cancelations. Ryanair is so confident of its lowest fares that we offer a low fares guarantee which any passenger that does find a lower fare should take advantage of – I can assure you few passengers ever find a lower fare.[8]

Finally as you pass yourself off as someone who encourages Spanish tourism I would like to point out that Ryanair is the only airline which continues to grow in Spain and is now the second largest carrier of passengers to and from Spain. Our passengers generate billions of euro to the Spanish economy each year and these pathetic, biased, Mickey Mouse survey fails to acknowledge that the average Ryanair fare is HALF that of easyjet’s – at a minimum this should be advised to readers at the outset of any future articles.[9]

Regards

Stephen McNamara

May 29, 2009 at 5:53 am
(24) gospain says:

My replies to the above comment from the Head of Communications at Ryanair, Stephen McNamara.

[1] This accusation from Mr McNamara came after I had actually pre-empted this charge in a previous email with him, where I said:

“To pre-empt your criticisms of bias – I assume you are referring to the use of a 12kg bag in the second price comparison. This was the weight of a bag that I packed recently – the bag was cheap (so on the heavy side), with a large Lonely Planet guidebook, a big hardback book for reading on the beach, a laptop, clothes, an SLR camera and numerous other essential or semi-essential vacation items. I think it is important to draw my readers’ attention to the difference between Ryanair and easyJet in these fees. However, in order to not place too much emphasis on this aspect, I only included it in one of the three price comparisons. I think this is very fair.”

[2] Unfortunately Mr McNamara is evidently not well versed with his own website. This point is addressed in my article: Ryanair’s Advertised Prices. In this article you can see a screenshot from the Ryanair website that clearly shows six prices without taxes included. Further clicks are needed to see prices together. This practice, though not unique to Ryanair, puts the company at an unfair advantage over airlines that adhere more strictly to OFT guidelines.

[3] No European airline that I am aware of offers less than 10kg of hand luggage, so (using the Oxford English Dictionary definition of generous – “freely giving more than is … expected”) this claim of generosity is misplaced.

[4] This point is addressed in the article: Ryanair’s Web Check-In Fee

[5] This point is address here: Ryanair’s Credit Card Fees In the UK, Nationwide and Lloyds TSB have stopped distributing Electron cards, while Barclay’s only offers them to teenagers. I also failed to find any information about an Electron card by searching on the HSBC website. Furthermore, I have never seen an Electron card in Spain. And I asked a German friend – she had never heard of them. So ‘widely available’ requires a new McNamara definition (see his definition of ‘generous’ above) for it to be regarded as true.

[6] This frequent claim by Ryanair was answered by a reader (comment #19) above. For ease of reading, I shall repeat it here: Ryanair’s travel times are longer than other airlines, so of course they can be more punctual. (from Gordon Jones)

[7] Another comment answered in comment #19 (above). For ease of reading, I shall repeat it here: It is not airlines that lose baggage, it’s baggage handlers – by flying to tiny airports where they drive the baggage 50 feet from the plane to the conveyor belt, of course they’re going to lose less bags than at giant airports where bags have to travel through numerous stages to get to back to you. Nothing to do with the quality of the airline. (from Gordon Jones)

[8] These price guarantees – that easyJet also has – don’t really give the full picture. Read my article on these offers here: Ryanair and easyJet Price Guarantees

[9] Sorry.

May 29, 2009 at 6:31 am
(25) Graham says:

I have nothing against Ryanair or Easyjet but would always choose the latter if faced with a choice. Why? I prefer the way Easyjet and their boss act. Simple.
Both airlines have made travel possible for a lot of people who would not otherwise have a choice and both have made good contributions to their industry. However both need to face up to responsibilities and criticism in a better way. Easyjet generally do i think, correct me if I am wrong but Ryanair’s response always seems to be “Well, if you don’t like it, lump it”

What i don’t like is the same as most people, advertising destinations incorrectly, Reus for Barcelona!!!!, blackmailing airports and local authorities to get more cash out of them, see the Valencia example, totally opaque pricing, staff attitudes and arrogance. Is O’Leary a Unted Fan by any chance?

May 29, 2009 at 6:54 am
(26) F E Mattimoe says:

In post 21 above, I alluded to “O´Leary´s mendacious hype.”

By post 23, one of the leprechaun´s many minions had the effrontery to come on this public site and write, at extreme and tedious length, a veritable wilderness of “mendacious hype” culminating in the central lie “…Ryanair for our guaranteed lowest fares..”

A lie is a lie is a lie, no matter how frequently or bare-facedly it is repeated.

These people have no shame! (But they make an awfully good living out of it.)

The “low class airline” as I said before.

(Dishonesty is a guaranteed [sic!]indicator of lack of class.)

June 2, 2009 at 11:25 am
(27) LifeinGalicia says:

Hi

unfortunately these comparisons are skewed. Cheap airlines don’t exist anymore. They are all in this game.

What is often over looked is the flight timing and the actual airport pairs.

Do I spend a night in a hotel at Stansted to get the 0.50Euro flight at 6:10am? Or do I go by train to LGW and use the noon flight of airline x?

All airline have bargains – often being flexible and fly Tuesday / Wednesdays or break the 7 day rule goes a long way to make a great affordable trip.

Who says I have to return by the same airline or use the same airport pairs?

Flying LGW MAD and OVD LGW using hired cars and trains in between can be real fun.

One should not forget the old saying – if you pay peanuts you get….. -

LIG

June 2, 2009 at 11:36 am
(28) gospain says:

You’re right, that’s why I make a big point about Ryanair’s flights to Girona and Reus being labeled ‘Barcelona’ when they’re not in Barcelona by any stretch of the imagination. I asked Ryanair why they do this. You can see their response here: Ryanair’s Flights to ‘Barcelona’.

March 19, 2010 at 6:21 pm
(29) Lou O'Neill says:

I flew over 60 Ryanair flights in 2009 and never really had a complaint. 60% of my flights fares were only 1p. I never use Priority Boarding and only ever take Hand luggage.

With Reus and Girona get a grip. If you want to go to Barcelona fly Easyjet! But Ryanair offer quick and easy Holidays to the Costa Brava/Dorada (Which i have done several times and enjoyed)

Long live O’Leary and long live Ryanair

December 16, 2010 at 9:47 am
(30) jay ar says:

Obviously you don’t know a lot of Spain because you said that Asturias is an alternative to Lavacolla airport. So please let me tell you some facts to show that Asturias Airport (in Avilés) is not an alternative:
Distance between Avilés and Santiago de Compostela: 292,1 Km (see “guia Repsol)
Time for this journey (by car): 3h 15m
If you have to take the bus please prepared for a 7 hours journey. By train takes it more. So, are you still thinking that Avilés is an alternative Airport?

April 17, 2011 at 5:39 pm
(31) Ian says:

Maybe this article needs updated. Things have moved on in the past few years.

April 18, 2011 at 5:20 pm
(32) gospain says:

You’re right, Ian, it is time I did a new comparison. Watch this space!

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