Flight check: London Stansted to Glasgow on Ryanair

By Max Bania

Max Bania flies FR7492 from England to Scotland.

Sadly, there was no haggis or whisky aboard Max Bania's Ryanair flight to Glasgow. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Ben Salter
Sadly, there was no haggis or whisky aboard Max Bania's Ryanair flight to Glasgow. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Ben Salter

The plane: A Boeing 737-800. At the time of writing, Ryanair boasts a mere 354 of them.

Class: There's only one on Ryanair, although for just £15 ($NZ27) extra you can enjoy an extra few millimetres of leg room up the front.

Price: £26.50, plus an extra £4 for seat selection and £2 for priority boarding — money well spent to avoid the long boarding queue.

Flight time: 59 minutes. We take off 13 minutes late but arrive eight minutes "early", thanks to Ryanair's policy of assigning much-longer-than-actual-flight-times to its routes (80 minutes in this instance); thereby allowing it to trumpet more "on-time" arrivals.

My seat: 18A. Over the wing, by the window. Plenty of leg room for this average-sized adult male.

Fellow passengers: A mix of English businessmen heading north and Scottish families returning home.

One of the joys of flying to Glasgow on a Monday morning is you're unlikely to be wedged between a 30-strong contingent of louts on a stag do.

How full: I've never seen an empty seat on a European low-cost carrier.

Entertainment: Ryanair has long since dispensed with luxuries such as seat pockets, so the hostesses hand out magazines before take off to those who want them. There is also duty-free shopping and scratch-and-win tickets, perpetually on sale for "half price" at £2. You're more likely to see a Turkish rug at full price than you are a scratch-and-win ticket on Ryanair.

The service: Two hostesses with lovely lyrical Scottish accents up the front, and two Spanish hosts down the back. The service is friendly and polite. One of the Spanish hosts briefly prevents me from boarding while he throws out a bag full of the last set of passengers' rubbish, which gives you an insight into how quick the turnarounds are on these flights.

Food and drink: No haggis or whisky, sadly. Just the usual selection of panini and club sandwiches. Why would you ever pay for food on a plane when you could buy better, cheaper food and bring it on board?

The toilets: Standing room only. Well not quite, but you get the picture.

Luggage: £25 to check a bag in. Ryanair don't actually appear to be as militant about their cabin baggage allowance as aviation folklore would have you believe. There's no weight limit, for one thing and they've never challenged me on the size of my cabin bag even though I'm pretty sure it would never fit into one of those little "does your bag fit here?" contraptions you see at gates.

The airport experience: Stansted is comfortably the least-terrible of London's secondary airports. Security is quick and the facilities are modern and well-designed. Glasgow airport is surprisingly small and therefore easy to negotiate.

Going low-budget: I've absolutely had it with people flying low-cost carriers and then complaining about the experience. The fundamental law of consumerism is you get what you pay for. Why should people expect anything different of air travel? Yes, Ryanair cuts corners in its service and enforces its rules harshly, but if it didn't, it couldn't fly people anywhere in Europe for next to nothing. If you don't like it, stop complaining and stump up for a full-service airline.

Would I fly this again? Yes. I'm too poor to stump up for a full-service airline.

- NZ Herald

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