As airlines go, Ryanair doesn’t exactly have the *best* reputation. A little bit like Marmite, you either love the airline or hate it, but let’s just say it doesn’t win the award for the best loved airline. But love it or hate it, they have a large and frequent route network, flying to over 30 countries.
In the latest in our ‘travelling with children’ airline review series, we talk about a recent trip to Lanzarote. Flying with kids can be quite a stressful and daunting thing for a lot of families but as long as you are prepared flying can actually be fun.
Here at Space In Your Case whenever we travel we put different airlines to the test to see how they rate in terms of family friendliness….
So here is how we got on during a Ryanair flight to Lanzarote in May 2015…
On the Ground.
Even though our flight out was at 7am on our day of departure, we weren’t particularly impressed with the check in efficiency with Ryanair at Stansted. There was a ridiculously large queue, meaning that by the time we got through security (which was also slow) we had to run to the gate, even though we had got to the airport over two hours early. This wasn’t particularly fun with a toddler and a four year old. The couple in front of us were over their luggage weight allowance by literally a tiny amount and had to pay extra for it- while I understand they can’t bend the rules for everyone I do think that sometimes it is a little greedy, especially when it’s a very small amount heavier.
Ryanair, let’s face it, does things very basically when it comes to plane facilities and in flight entertainment. Of course, there are no TV’s, the aesthetics of the plane look a bit cheap and tacky (yellow anyone?) and most of the planes look a little old. But as long as they get us from A to B safely it doesn’t really matter. It is slightly annoying not to have a seat pocket in the seat in front of you as obviously they are helpful for holding bits and pieces throughout the flight, especially with young children and all the bits they want to get out. I did find ourselves being surrounded by rubbish, mini toys and colouring pencils throughout the duration of the four hour flight, but we were comfortable and we knew what to expect.
We have flown with Ryanair many times and the service is always a bit mixed, but I have never found it to be atrocious- cabin crew are polite and friendly most of the time and I think as long as you are courteous with them then they will be the same with you. Actually on the flight out to Lanzarote we were incredibly impressed with the staff- there was one cabin crew in particular who was extra kind to our children, he really chatted with them and gave them a little flight kit each with stickers, colouring pencils and little plastic toys. I don’t know if all children get these but he really was very good with them.
Entertaining with the free stickers. As you do.
The flight to Lanzarote is one of those awkward flight times where it’s not considered long haul but it’s still a bit longer than your average two hour flight to Spain. However the service was efficient, regardless of the fact you don’t get food etc. I think you know what you are going to get with Ryanair, you know you aren’t going to be getting ‘the extra mile’ when it comes to service and you know that you are going to have to pay £3 for a mini can of fizzy drink, but as long as you know that then it isn’t too much of a surprise.
The flight on the way back wasn’t quite as good, it was fine and we had no real complaints, but one thing we did notice was that we were delayed by an hour (not Ryanair’s fault) but that the cockpit didn’t speak to us at all throughout the flight. Normally they at least speak to you once you are at a cruising altitude or they speak to you as you are about to descend, but they didn’t speak once, not even to introduce themselves. The only time we heard them speak was when they said ‘Cabin Crew seats for landing.’ As a slightly anxious flyer, I don’t know why but it reassures me to hear from them during the flight, so I was disappointed they didn’t take two minutes to speak, even to apologise for the delay.
Another thing was that when we boarded the aircraft we found another family with a child and a young baby in our seats, on asking them why they said that it was because they had an infant they weren’t allowed to sit on by the emergency wing door. (even though it was still a row in front of the door) That is fair enough (although I am not sure why my two year old is therefore allowed to) but the cabin crew didn’t tell us, so we just sat in their original seats, meaning that I was split up slightly from my husband who was a row in front of us. (as the rows are only three seats wide) It would have been good customer service for them to tell us this rather than us figuring it out for ourselves.
Like I said above, I think as long as you know what you are going to get with ‘low budget airlines’ such as Ryanair then it isn’t too bad. At the end of the day, you want them to get you from A to B safely and on time and Ryanair did that, despite a slight delay on the way home. You aren’t getting the same kind of service as you do on long haul carriers such as BA or Virgin, but then you aren’t paying those kind of prices. The cabin crew were polite and efficient on both our flight there and flight home from Lanzarote, and that’s all you need really.
Ryanair is obviously a child friendly airline, with lots of families travelling with them on all flights. Don’t expect amazing service, but pack a few drinks, snacks (the food and drink sold on board is expensive) and a good old iPad to keep them amused, and you won’t have any complaints. We fly with Ryanair a fair bit, and it’s fine. We rarely have any bad flights and the staff are always friendly.