Ryanair can suck it
Let me tell you about Ryanair. Here I had just blogged about Virgin Atlantic, the best airline I had ever been on, and then I get to experience Ryanair, the worst. Ugh! I mean, the round trip flight from London to Germany was £22 ($35)! I was anxious to try the infamous Ryanair. Don't get me wrong--I like to try new things. It's just that my lack of sleep plus my nerves for traveling with only a carry-on bag for the first time in my life, on an international flight, on an airline I'd never used before, mind you, was stressful.
I had a rough start: I neeeearly missed the double decker bus because my hand raising and eye contact were not enough. The express train to Gatwick had an alarm malfunction, so this excruciating, eardrum piercing quadruple beep went off for some 20 minutes and didn't stop even as I was departing.
If you've never been to Gatwick, let me describe this airport. It's truly a monstrosity. With 99 gates, though, all of that size is needed. You first spend 10 minutes just locating your airline company's check-in area since it is not clearly labeled. Then, my panic rose as I had to get through security with my 100 mL or less ziploc bags of liquid. When I got to the metal detector, I packed my pocket items into my bag, pulled put my 100 mL bag, took off my extra outerwear, and took off my shoes. Oh. Wait. That woman just walked through with her sandals on. And the couple behind me are nervously chatting about my shoes being off. "Wait, do I need to take off my shoes as well? He did. Well that other man just went through with his shoes." Embarrassing.
Once you've made it past security, they don't announce your gate right away. You're forced to hang out in this very large shopping area until the TV monitors give you the numbers you've been waiting for. There is a little ticker that says they'll announce it 50 minutes before departure and that the farthest gate is only 12 minutes away. Secured with that knowledge and over an hour's wait, I take my time, write blogs, eat, and hang out, even 5 minutes past the official posting time. Knowing it must be posted, I casually get up and check the screen for my gate (number 53) and see next to it THAT IT SAYS FINAL CALL. [Begin nightmare sequence here] ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I quickly gather my bearings and power walk my way toward my gate. Final call??? Really?? What if miss it? Omg omg omg... A good 12 minutes later (of course I had one of those really far gates), I look around at the confusing gate signs and I think I get in the right line. We'll see! *panic rising*. And leaving the line is a disaster. This is TRULY a cattle call. There are no assigned seats and, unlike Southwest, no grouping or organization. You just wait in line and crowd toward the airline agent when she starts to collect the boarding passes. Madness. Complete and utter madness.
As I'm waiting, I have the fortune of getting to watch customers being checked in on another flight. If you don't know about Ryanair, they are complete inflexible assholes about their baggage policies. You get ONE carry-on, it can only be a certain size, and it MUST be 10kg or less. Have you seen those cages at airports that "suggest" what size your carry-on should be? Well, they actually bring that thing from gate to gate. And they have a SCALE with a cartoony description of what can be in a carry-on. And they ENFORCE it. Heartlessly.
Before I had time to realize what was going on, a couple got pulled aside because of their luggage. Keep in mind this pulling aside not only happens during the stressful and busy boarding time, but they pull you out of line to handle this, which means you've lost whatever advantage you thought you had. The rest of my line and I watch in horror as the suitcase comes out to 10.4 kg and the agent points to the 0.4 and says that's a problem. Meanwhile, a family of four walks up and for whatever reason gets pulled aside. After some language barrier issues, we find the airline agent condescendingly pointing and counting the bags ("1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6." "But this bag is a bag of stuff I bought at the airport." "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6."). She is giving no mercy. You can't pay for this kind of entertainment!
To our horror (the sequel), the heinous bitch joins our line as our boarding agent. Oh, dear Lord. Remember that scale and wire basket for size at the old gate? Suddenly, about 20 people from our line brought their bags over in sheer terror to check their weight. It was amazing. Many people were in fact over the limit by a kg or less. I didn't feel comfortable leaving my place in line, so I had an uncomfortable 20 minutes watching the people in front of me get checked, some getting pulled aside by that crazy woman. By the grace of God (and maybe racism), they didn't pick me to have a bag check. I nearly ran away from the agents to the plane to get away from them.
Oh, it's not over. I board the plane and find a front window seat. No one ended up seating in the middle seat (and I don't care if the reason was me making eyes and winking at everyone as they passed by). When you sit on a Ryanair plane, you just feel as if something's different. Oh wait, maybe it is the tacky safety diagram glued to the headrest of the seat in front of you. Or the horrible navy blue and yellow theme. Or the lack of a seatback pocket on the seat in front of you. They have cut EVERY possible corner they can to save money!!! Immediately after seating, they started passing out a double-sided flyer. Curious, I took one. It was an ad for the luxury food and drinks. They had a ton of options, which I thought was curious. Then, I started noticing that their welcome music (royalty free classical music, I just now realized) was loaded with ads.
"Imagine a refreshing drink of [insert alcohol name here] while your plane is in the air. [sound effect of ice clinking in a glass, then liquid filling up the glass]. Choose your refreshment now from the beverage menu."
It wasn't until he tried to charge me for a glass of water that I realized that NOTHING is free! And about 3 times during the flight, they asked again if we'd like food or drink. During the flight, they passed out their company magazine, which they warned there might not be enough of. During the flight, the cabin crew worked as Bob Barker's beauties (male and female both), peddling smokeless cigarettes, alcohol, or the day's newspaper. It was so tacky.
I was REALLY tired since I had woken up at 1:30a, so when I went to search for the recline button...you know how this ends. Uuuuuuuuuugh.
Will I fly Ryanair ever again? Probably because of their prices, yes. But never because I'd love to. If airlines were types of bathrooms, Virgin Atlantic's would have a jacuzzi. Ryanair would be a porta-potty. And everyone needs a porta-potty every now and then.
(In case you were curious, I later weighed my backpack at Niels's place: 6.3 kg.)
UPDATE: Look at this shit.