Stephanie Holmes flies (eventually) from Lisbon, Portugal to London Stansted on Ryanair FR1081

The plane: Boeing 787-800

Class: You're joking, right? There's nothing classy about Ryanair.

Price: $151. I thought this was a low-cost carrier? ...


Luggage: My priority fare gave me one checked bag up to 20kg, one small bag and one cabin bag.

Flight time: Supposed to be 2h 30m but took only 2h. But factor in the 90m delay and let's just call it quits, yeah?

On time: Another joke? We queued at the gate for 45 minutes, before being told we were now leaving from a different gate. Of course, this meant everyone who was at the front of the queue then ended up at the back of the queue as we raced across the departures hall. After another 20 minutes, they let us through to another waiting area outside the terminal (mercifully under shade as it was 26C and sunny). We waited here for about 45 minutes too. All this time, there were no announcements from ground crew, no staff to ask what was going on, and the Ryanair app was still reading "on time". We finally boarded the plane an hour after our scheduled departure and were in the air half an hour after that. The pilot said it was because of air traffic control delays in London, and a delayed Easyjet flight which had been blocking our gate. All perfectly understandable — so why didn't a member of the ground crew just keep us informed?

My seat: 11F. A window seat just in front of the starboard wing. I paid for a priority ticket so I could choose my seat in advance, and board the aircraft first. More expensive than the basic fare but I had a suitcase to check in so had no choice but to upgrade my ticket. "Low fares, made simple" is Ryanair's tagline ... though the subhead should be "would be nice,but you're going to end up paying extra, whether you like it or not". Not quite as catchy, I guess. The seat was reasonably comfortable, but there was no TV screen and not even so much as a seat pocket — makes cleaning the aircraft in the five minutes between flights much quicker.

Fellow passengers: British holidaymakers returning home and European holidaymakers heading to Britain. Plus this Kiwi, an Aussie, and three rowdy American backpackers.

How full: Mercifully, a few spare seats were spread around the plane.

Entertainment: Oh I see, you're a comedian. Ha ha.

The service: The cabin crew were very pleasant and, of course, it's not their fault there was a delay. They served snacks and drinks shortly after take-off — all for a fee, of course. Then tried to flog the obligatory Ryanair Lotto scratchies. No one seemed to be partaking.


The toilets: I didn't go. I'm assuming there were some. But, this being Ryanair, who could say?

The airport experience: Low-cost carriers leave from Lisbon's T2 which is essentially just a former aircraft hangar now used as a terminal. There are a few shops and cafes after security but very few seats. And nowhere to fill up a reusable water bottle, so you have to resort to buying single-use plastic. Bad form, Lisbon. Bad form.

The bottom line: If you pay for a budget service, you've got to be prepared for a budget service.