Budget european airlines
The three largest budget european airlines are Ryanair (Many years the largest European airline of any type) Vueling and Easyjet. Between the three of them they serve most of the European principal tourist centres. All three can make travel within Europe not only far more economical but highly enjoyable. But in all cases you should expect rules that are strictly enforced. Fortunately the rules are easily found out for those hoping to avoid any nasty surprises.
Ryanair is the largest of the three. Also the one non Europeans are most likely to have heard of. Dublin based they have expanded to cover not just Western Europe but Jordan, Israel and now the Ukraine.
Ryanair is also the European budget airline that has a reputation that would make Cinderella’s stepmother blush. Fortunately most of the complaints can be blamed on passengers who have either failed to read the terms or on people that feel the rules don’t apply to them.
Recently Ryanair has made news by changing how it handles cabin baggage. Currently if you haven’t bought priority boarding you will have your larger cabin bag gate checked . This will require you to pick up your carry on at the destination baggage carousel
For people traveling on non EU passports the lesser known requirement can cause far greater problems. Non EU passengers are required to get their boarding passes stamped at the Ryanair services desk before clearing security. The desk will check your ID and if required your visa status. Skipping this step often leads to missed flights and no refunds.
Vueling is a Barcelona based airline part of the larger IAG group that includes BA,Iberian and the new low cost transatlantic Level airline.
There are two things to watch with Vueling. Legroom is at an extreme premium. The spaces are very tight. The other possible problem is when you search for tickets Vueling will show you not just direct flights but flights connecting in Barcelona. Be very sure you want to take this option. The time between flights can be very long. You also are unlikely to save any money. Far better to take a direct flight.
Easyjet is an London UK based airline. The main difference between it and the previous two airlines is it’s cabin baggage limits. Both of Ryanair and Vueling allow two bags. One 55x40x20cm and one far smaller 35x20x20 bag. Easyjet on the other hand allows only one bag 56x45x25. The bag is clearly slightly larger then the other two companies but the bigger difference is the different weight limit. Both Ryanair and Vueling have a 10kg weight limit for cabin bags. Easyjet has no limit. In theory you’re required to lift the bag on your own with no help.
Not to be glossed over when Easyjet states one bag they mean ONE bag. That count includes not just your luggage but handbag,camera bag etc. If you have more then one item you should expect to place the other items inside your cabin bag.
Budget european airlines
If you remember anything about these airlines remember you must follow the rules. Do not expect wiggle room. Luggage measurements include everything from the bottom of the wheels to the top of the handles. Even a slight excess puts you at risk of being charged an extra fee. Remember to check in online before getting to the airport. If you’re a non EU passenger flying with Ryanair remember to print out your boarding pass even if you check in online .
Don’t let the list of warnings scare you off. In general it’s all common sense. If you follow the rules you will find the flight on time. With a reasonable level of comfort. All at a highly reasonable price. The rules are all available on the company websites and you have no excuse for not checking the main points.