Consuming Issues: How to navigate through Ryanair's maze of charges

People say low-cost travel is easy, but travellers need stamina and guile to negotiate Ryanair's maze of charges.

John Fingleton, chief executive of the Office of Fair Trading, made this point when he described Ryanair's £5 credit card charge as "puerile" in an interview last week with The Independent.

That drew a furious response from Ryanair, which accused the OFT of singling it out while failing, allegedly, to tackle dodgy practices at more expensive airlines.

My personal view – stated here previously – is that, notwithstanding the environmental damage done by mass air travel, Ryanair is good value for travellers prepared to go down the no-frills route, especially when compared with the cost and unremarkable service of the old state carriers.

For the six months to 30 September, Ryanair's sales were £1.5bn from 36.4 million passengers – £43.40 per flight, the cost of a DVD box set. Yet customers paying fees or booking late pay much more. Here are 10 tips for finding the cheapest flight with Europe's biggest airline:

1. CHECK OUT THE AIRPORT

One reason Ryanair's fares are so low is because it uses airports miles from the headline destination. So Frankfurt Hahn is 75 miles from Frankfurt, and Stockholm-Vasteras is 68 miles from Stockholm. While that won't necessarily make the flight expensive, check the availability and cost of transport to your final destination.

2. BOOK MONTHS AHEAD

Flights can be booked 10 months in advance, but are usually cheapest between two months and two weeks before departure. Fares climb rapidly in the last few days. The cheapest flights are on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday afternoon.

3. ENTER THE RIGHT DETAILS

Severe penalties apply for mis-spelling a passenger: amending a name costs £100 online and £150 at the airport. Always use the name on your passport. Changing a flight is £25 – £100 for a family of four, one-way.

4. MINIMISE LUGGAGE

Ryanair wants to fly quick passengers, not their cumbersome luggage which requires expensive baggage handlers and delays to flying time. Its website assumes passengers require a checked-in bag costing £15, with a maximum weight of 15 kilos, so select the no checked-in bag option if you don't need this much luggage. Remember all passengers can take onboard cabin baggage and adults can pile their belongings into their children's allowance. Cabin baggage should weigh no more than 10kg and measure less than 55cm by 40cm by 20cm. Every kilo over and above 15 kilos for checked-in baggage costs £20 per kilo.

5. AVOID BUYING INSURANCE

Ryanair invites passengers to select insurance. Year round travel insurance normally covers flights and tends to work out cheaper.

6. PAY BY MASTERCARD

Paying by plastic on Ryanair attracts an "administration fee" of £5 per person, per flight – £40 for a holidaying family of four. Owners of Electron cards have to pay this fee as well now. However it can be avoided by using a pre-paid Mastercard. The Mastercard Orion Clubcard costs £15.89 to set up and 50p for every transaction, saving money for anyone booking more than three Ryanair flights a year.

7. DON'T PAY FOR TEXT CONFIRMATION

Ticking the box for mobile phone text confirmation of a booking costs £1. These details are sent immediately – free of charge – to the email address provided at the time of booking.

8. CHECK-IN ONLINE

A £5 online check-in fee applies to fares. Check-in can be done between 15 days and four hours before take-off. Tickets must be printed out, or there is a £40 fee per passenger at the airport.

9. GET TO THE SEATS LAST

"Priority boarding" can be selected for £4 per passenger. Don't bother unless this is important: you won't arrive any sooner.

10. FAST ONBOARD

With such low advertised fares, Ryanair is keen to make margins from the sale of onboard drinks, snacks, duty-free and lottery cards. Having bagged a bargain you may wish to celebrate, but the money may be better spent elsewhere. Generally there's more fun to be had on your arrival than strapped into a seat on a pressurised plane.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Evening Administrator

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...

    Guru Careers: Executive Assistant / PA

    £30 - 35k + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Executive Assist...

    Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Reach Volunteering: External Finance Trustee Needed!

    Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable