Budget Airline Showdown: Ryanair vs. easyJet

Posted on September 2, 2011


As you begin planning your independent travel abroad, you’ll often be faced with deciding between a number of budget airlines, including Ryanair and EasyJet. Each airline company has its pros and cons when it comes to price, destination offerings, baggage, and customer service. The following discusses the differences between these airlines.

By Alex DiGregorio

Here’s the comparison between Ryanair and EasyJet into 4 main categories: price, destination offerings, baggage restrictions and customer service.


Winner: Ryanair

When it comes to cheap fares, Ryanair is almost always the best option. On top of offering insanely cheap flight sales (you can get flights for as low as 9 Euros), Ryanair flights generally cost 30% to 40% less than EasyJet. Please read our article on How to Find 5 Euro Flights [LINK] for more info about how to take advantage of Ryanair’s sales. Even with Ryanair’s notorious hidden fees like tricky baggage restrictions, their prices are still lower than EasyJet.

Backpacker’s Tip: One reason Ryanair offers such cheap flights is because they often fly into airports that are far away from the city center. For example, if you fly into Milan, Barcelona, or Paris, you will be dropped off at an airport that requires up to a 2-hour airport transfer. In most cases, the money you save on the flight makes up for the added travel time and costs, but it’s always a good idea to consider this before booking. For more info, please check out our article on Airport Transfers [LINK], which provides all the info you need to know about figuring out airport transfers at a new city and determining whether a budget airline ticket is worth it.

Destination Offerings

Winner: Ryanair

Hands down Ryanair offers more routes to more cities throughout Europe and their routes are constantly expanding. Check out the following route maps, which show you which routes depart from the various cities serviced by each airline company.

Neither airline covers all the destinations, so you may be stuck with only one airline company. For example, Ryanair offers many more flights from Pisa than EasyJet. Similarly, EasyJet offers many more flights out of Rome than Ryanair. Best to do your research to find out which is the best option for your study abroad city and destination of choice. Check out the booking engines www.momondo.com or www.skyscanner.com, which will automatically search all the budget flight routing and tells you the cheapest option.

Baggage Restrictions

Winner: EasyJet

Baggage is where Ryanair makes its money. They charge between 15-25 Euros per checked bag for each leg of the journey, and the bag can only way 15 kilos (about 33 pounds). Since Ryanair only allows for a 10 kilo (22 pound) carry-on, you will generally have to pay for a checked bag for journeys longer than a single weekend.

EasyJet also charges a checked bag fee, but the cost is much lower. You’ll pay only 11 Euros for a 20-kilo bag.

Customer Service

Winner: EasyJet

Although many budget airlines have bad reputations for offering poor customer service, Ryanair is infamous for being number 1. If you experience a problem booking online, you will pay up to 1 euro per minute to speak with someone at the Ryanair call center to rectify the problem (even if it’s not your fault). Don’t expect any favors from Ryanair if you make a mistake during the booking process. If you mis-spell the name on the passport, forget to buy a bag online, or enter the wrong passport expiration date, be prepared to pay hefty fees – up to 200 Euros – to correct the mistake.

While EasyJet still isn’t a knight in shining armor when it comes to customer service, they are known to be far friendlier and flexible, and they don’t charge a call-in fee if you experience an error booking online and need to speak with a travel representative.

Tips for flying budget airlines:

  1. Check the exact arrival city and airport transfer information. A Ryanair flight to Paris actually lands in Beauvais, and the shuttle to the city center costs €15 each way. Calculate these extra costs into the price when you’re choosing which airline to choose.
  2. Book well ahead of time. Budget airlines offer really cheap flights but you have to book way in advance.
  3. Pack Smart. Carry-on travel is key with budget airlines. Learn how to pack everything yo need for your trip into a single carry-on bag (yes it’s possible). See our article on How to Pack [LINK] for tips on how to pack light.
  4. Print your Boarding Pass. If you forget to do this, you’ll be charged up to 50 Euros at the airport.
  5. No frills means No frills. Don’t expect any freebies or what you consider normal conveniences of flying. This means no seatback tray, no recliner, no movies, no free drinks, no peanuts. Most student travelers are okay forsaking these conveniences for the overall savings they get.

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