Everything you need to know before flying with Ryanair – Baggage policy, fares, documentation, refunds and much more!

  • 27.10.2022 11:26
  • Bruno Arcos
Ryanair planes

We have curated a complete guide with everything you need to know about flying with Ryanair. It includes information on the airline’s baggage policy, required documentation to travel, fares and refund conditions.

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Everything you need to know before flying with Ryanair – A complete guide

Considered the biggest and most famous low-cost airline in Europe, Ryanair is responsible for the transportation of hundreds of millions passengers every year. Serving over 230 airports across 36 different countries (some of which are even located outside the continent), it keeps on attracting a seemingly endless array of passengers, lured by their take-no-prisoners approach when it comes to prices.

In fact, the airline’s airfares and convenience are so popular among customers that Ryanair has only kept on increasing its quota as the UK’s single largest airline over the past few months. Therefore, and as Ryanair only seems to be growing more popular by the day, we’ve decided to create this extensive guide compiling pretty much all the information you need before flying with the Irish giant.

From Ryanair’s baggage policy to their check-in process, with further detailed information on documentation rules, refunds and cancelations, you now can have all your questions and concerns addressed by consulting our guide!

Ryanair flight fares – what kind of tickets can you buy?

Ryanair fares are split into 4 different categories: Value, Regular, Plus and Flexi Plus.

Ryanair’s Value Fare

It’s the budget-friendlier of all fares, allowing you to take nothing but a small handbag which must fit right under the seat ahead of you (40cm x 20cm x 25cm). With this fare, all remaining baggage will have to be paid separately and you won’t be able to book a specific seat on the flight, with a random one being attributed to you upon check-in. This also means you might not be able to travel together with your group.

In case you’re traveling with children under 12, it is mandatory that you pick and pay for at least one adult’s seat. Afterwards, you can pick the seats for all the children (to a limit of 4) without having to pay any extra fee.

Ryanair’s Regular Fare

The Regular fare includes what the airline calls its “Priority” program. Besides allowing you to board the aircraft before all the passengers who only bought the Value fare, you can also take a 10kg cabin bag with you. Lastly, and upon completing the online check-in process, you’ll be able to select your seat for the flight (among the places designated for Regular fare buyers).

Ryanair’s Plus Fare

Although the Plus fare does not grant access to Priority – and therefore no cabin bag is allowed – its buyers are actually able to check a bag with a maximum weight of 20kg. Also, Plus passengers are able to check-in for free at the airport, so as long as they do it no later than 40 minutes before the flight, and have a better seat selection to choose from.

Ryanair’s Flexi Plus Fare

It’s considered Ryanair’s premium fare. Besides including Priority, allowing you to take both a small handbag and a 10kg wheelie to the cabin, it also lets you fast track through security and choose virtually any seat you want in the entire aircraft. However, what really sets the Flexi Plus fare apart from all others, is the fact that its users can actually make changes to their booking’s dates at no extra cost (only paying for the fare difference, if applicable). Buyers just need to keep in mind that these changes must be made at least 2h30 hours before the flight (if online) or 40 minutes before departure (if at the airport’s counters).

Ryanair’s Family Plus Fare

Finally, there is actually another category that might be right up your alley if you’re traveling with children. With this specific class of ticket, you’ll have access to all the perks of the Value fare, with the extra advantage that each of the passenger’s 10kg cabin bags can actually be checked into the hold. Besides, you are also entitled to take an extra 20kg check bag for the whole party. As a final note, Family Plus also allows you to choose free, unrestricted seats for the all the children under 12 in your booking.

Cancelation policy and changing flights with Ryanair

Making changes to your Ryanair flight

Unless you have purchased the Flexi Plus fare, changing a flight with Ryanair always comes at a cost – the one exception being when passengers due it during the 24-hour grace period. Basically, you are free to make changes to your booking’s dates and times within the first 24 hours after you purchased your flight. Ryanair also allows passengers in this situation to reverse the route they originally booked. So, for example, if you bought tickets for the London-Budapest route, you may reverse it to Budapest-London.

Within these first 24 hours, there is no extra cost to any of these changes, unless there are any pricing differences when it comes to fares. Let me explain: if you had originally paid €20 for your London-Budapest flight but wish to have it changed to a date where the same fare is now costing €30, you will only be responsible for paying the difference in the fare (€10).

On the other hand, if you want/need to make changes to your flight outside this grace period, these will be subjected to a fee… and a hefty one, by the way! No less than €45 per one-way flight (€90 per passenger if you need to change both legs) in case you make those changes online. However, should you do it over the phone or directly at an airport counter, that one-way fee will rise to €60. Besides the fees, you will also have to pay for differences in airfare, as detailed in the previous paragraph. For that reason, simply buying new flights ends up being lighter on the wallet most of the times.

Plus, do not forget that any changes in dates or routes must be made up to 2h30 before the scheduled departure time. Also, you cannot change a domestic flight to an international flight (or the other way around) due to VAT-related complications.

Requesting a name change for a Ryanair flight

If you wish to make any changes to the name of any of the passengers in your booking, there are several circumstances we need to factor in. But first, it is important to clarify that there is no need to include middle names in your Ryanair booking, as the first and last names are enough, so as long as they are inserted exactly as they appear on your travel document. Additionally, one letter spelling errors do not need to be changed.

That being said, if name changes are requested within the first 48 hours after the booking was completed, Ryanair does allow you to make small changes to the spelling of the names for free. However, remember the keyword here is “small”, so we’re afraid changing a name from “Archibald MacQuoid” to “Percival Dankworth” does not qualify.

Outside that grace period, the company still allows you to make some minor adjustments, but only if no more than 3 characters are changed. For example, you’d still be allowed to change a last name from “Andersen” to “Anderson”.

Aside from all the exceptions described above, the only other situation where Ryanair allows passengers to change a name in their booking for free, happens when there is in fact a legal name change after two people get married. In that case, you’ll just need to show a copy of your marriage license and the fee will be waived.

In the end, every single name change that cannot be fitted into any of these anomalies, will incur in the payment of a €115 fee. Naturally, most of the times it’s just cheaper to book a new place on the same flight.

Canceling a flight with Ryanair

When it comes to cancelations – and to put in bluntly – Ryanair simply does not provide any refunds in case a passenger wishes to cancel their flight. The company’s website states that “all Ryanair flights are changeable but they cannot be cancelled”.

You can only get a refund for a flight you will not be able to board if all the stars align and – by sheer coincidence – that flight ends up being canceled by Ryanair or experiencing a delay exceeding 5 hours. As such, and because you’re better safe than sorry, make sure to monitor your aircraft’s status on FlightRadar24 to confirm you haven’t hit a jackpot. The only other situation where you may be able to get a refund from Ryanair is when a passenger cannot board the flight because of a serious illness or due to the death of an immediate family member (within 28 days of traveling). In both cases, you will need to present suitable documentary evidence.

Aside from these very specific cases, and unless you get a serious stroke of luck (or an extremely unfortunate mishap), you won’t be able to get your money back. Looking on the bright side, and unlike most of its competitors, at least Ryanair doesn’t require you to let them know beforehand that you won’t be making it to your flight. Just do a good old-fashioned no-show!

Baggage Policy at Ryanair

Ryanair’s Small Baggage

Perhaps one of the most common travel questions ever written on Google, everyone seems to question which exact small bags are allowed into a Ryanair cabin.

As we had the chance to explain previously, each fare allows you to carry a different type of baggage. So, if you chose the Value fare (the cheapest), all you can take with you is a small bag (40cm x 20cm x 25cm) which is able to fit under the seat in front of you.

Speaking from experience, we can say that the staff isn’t particularly thorough when overseeing the application of this specific rule. Which means that even if you take a slightly bigger bag than the ones allowed, chances are that you won’t run into any problems. However, should the staff flag you and make you pay a fee so that your bag can be checked, just know that there’s nothing you can do if your bag is in fact bigger than what’s specified.

For that reason, this decision is only yours to make, especially since the fee you’ll have to pay can range between €8 and €32.

Ryanair’s Cabin Baggage – Priority

Just know that even if you’ve selected the Value fare, you can still add Priority before completing your booking. Starting at €8 per passenger, this would allow you to carry a 10kg cabin bag (55 x 40 x 20 cm), along with the regular small handbag. Duty free bags can also be taken inside the cabin, along with the rest of your carry-on luggage.

In case Priority passes are sold out and there’s no more space in the cabin, you can make changes to your booking at any moment and add the option of having that same carry-on bag (10kg – 55 x 40 x 20 cm) checked into the aircraft’s hold. This option is available from €12.

If you show up at the gate with an oversized cabin bag, your baggage will have to be placed in the hold of the aircraft for a fee of €69,99.

Ryanair’s Check-In Baggage

Finally, there is also an option to add checked baggage to your booking. This bag cannot weigh over 20kg and it may cost you between €17,99 and €50, depending on the route and dates. Each passenger can add up to 3 check-in bags to their name.

Baggage check-in counters open 2 hours before the flight, and all the baggage must be checked up to 40 minutes before departure. Don’t be late! Otherwise, you may end up being denied boarding along with your bags.

Also, keep in mind passengers can share their purchased baggage allowance with other companions included in the same flight reservation. This means that if you added 2 check-in bags (20kg each) to your name, you and your travel buddy can check up to 40kg of baggage split into 2 bags, regardless of each bag’s weight (for example, it is completely ok if one bag weighs 25kg and the other 15 kg). Just be careful not to pack any excess baggage beyond what you have purchased, or you’ll have to pay €9-11 per each additional kilogram.

Finally, for health and safety reasons, Ryanair does not allow any individual item exceeding 32 kilos or with combined dimensions measuring more than 81 x 119 x 119 cm.

Ryanair Fees for Equipment Transportation (added at the time of booking)

Bikes – €60

Sports Equipment– €35

Ski Equipment – €45

Golf Clubs – €30

Musical Instruments – €50

These fees are charged per item, per one way flight. Maximum weight of each item must not exceed 20kg (30kg for the bike).

Passengers traveling with babies are allowed to carry two items of baby equipment (pushchair, car seat, booster seat or travel cot) free of charge. Any extra baby equipment will cost €15 per piece.

Prohibited items onboard and in checked bags

Prohibited Items onboard a Ryanair flight

  • Guns, Firearms or similar weapons;
  • Pointed/edged Weapons & Sharp Objects;
  • Blunt Instruments, including sporting equipment such as tennis rackets and baseball bats
  • Explosives and flammable substances;
  • Chemical and Toxic Substances.

Prohibited items in checked bags

  • Electronic cigarettes;
  • Explosives, including detonators;
  • Lithium-ion battery operated vehicles (only over 160wh);
  • Lithium-ion powered Personal Electronic Devices (only over 160wh);
  • Firearms including replica or toy guns of all types;
  • Gases, including propane and butane;
  • Flammable liquids;
  • Oxidizers and organic peroxides;
  • Toxic or infectious substances;
  • Corrosives;
  • Edible Oil (e.g Olive oil) exceeding 1 liter in volume;
  • Any sharp objects which aren’t securely wrapped.

Required Documentation to Board a Ryanair Flight

Just like any other airline, Ryanair requires you to present a valid ID in order to board a flight. That being said, and more important than looking into Ryanair’s requirements, you should check the visa and passport requirements of the country you are planning to visit. The easiest way to do so is by contacting the Embassy or Consulate of the country you will be traveling to.

If you are using a British passport to travel into a Schengen/EU member country (except for Ireland) you must assure that your passport:

  • is valid for at least 3 months from the date you will leave the Schengen/EU member country;
  • is issued within the previous 10 years upon the date of arrival into the Schengen/EU member country.

If your passport is lost or stolen while you are abroad, the first thing you need to do is find the closest police station and file a report. Once you have access to that document, you can then contact your embassy or consulate and request a replacement passport or another emergency document that allows you to board your flight home.

However, and should you receive no feedback or support from the local embassy, you should still head to the airport and look for Ryanair’s counter. Explain the situation, show the staff your police report and try to prove your identity by showing copies of your lost ID document or a driver’s license. If you manage to verify your identity, the airline will issue a new boarding pass in order to help you get home.

Non-EU/EEA Passengers – Visa Check

In the specific case of non-EU/EEA passengers who don’t have a legal residency card for any country within the Schengen Area, they must be in possession of an appropriate visa and a passport which must be valid for 3 months beyond the date the traveler will exit the Schengen space.

As such, and before going through security, the passenger must validate all its documentation at a Ryanair counter in order to get the proper authorization to board. This requirement is mandatory and can’t be skipped.

Non-EU/EEA passengers must do this in order to ensure compliance with immigration authorities. If there is a failure to comply with this requirement, passengers may be denied boarding.

Country Specific ID Requirements for Minors

Each country has their own requirements for minors.

In cases of minors traveling without their parents or legal guardians, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are aware of any specific requirements and meet them. You can check visa and passport requirements by contacting the Consulate or Embassy of the country you are planning to visit.

What you need to know about Ryanair’s check-in process

Every passenger can complete their check-in process online, at no extra cost, up to 2 hours before the scheduled time of departure.

For passengers who purchased a seat at the time of booking (or at any time before departure) or chose the Flexi Plus fare, the check-in process for all flights is available 60 days before departure.

On the other hand, for passengers who’ve chosen the Value fare and didn’t buy any specific seat, they will only be able to check-in online in the 24 hours before each booked flight.

In case you forget to check-in online and need to do it at the airport, you will have to pay a €50 fee per passenger, unless you have bought the Flexi Plus fare.

I’ve booked my flight with a travel agent and now I can’t complete the check-in. What should I do?

You will need to contact your travel agent and request their assistance. They probably didn’t provide you your booking confirmation number and the reservation is most likely under another email address, meaning you’re not receiving any notifications or alerts. Contact your travel agent as soon as possible in order to avoid any potential fees at the airport.

How does Ryanair handle the boarding process?

As well as any other low-cost airline.

The process itself is quite simple. Just head to the boarding gate, and depending on whether you’ve purchased Priority or not, wait until you get the green light to board the aircraft.

Keep in mind you must be in possession of your boarding pass, be it physical or digital (except in these countries where digital boarding passes are not allowed). If that’s not case, you’ll end up paying a €20 reissue fee for each boarding pass.

After your ticket and your travel document (ID/passport) are validated by the staff, you will then be able to board the plane. Pay attention to your ticket, which will indicate whether you’ll be boarding the aircraft through the front or the back, depending on your seat.

Regarding seating, always take the seat you were given… at least initially! You may, after the aircraft reaches cruising altitude, inquire the staff about the possibility of seating next to your group. However, DON’T do it while passengers are still boarding the plane, otherwise the flight might end up being late for departure, since pilots are only allowed to take-off after all passengers are seated.

If you are seated at an emergency exit row, remember you are not allowed to place anything over your lap, or under the seat in front of you (including handbags, small backpacks or coats you’re not wearing). All these items must be stowed in the overhead compartments during both take-off and landing (and no, this is not negotiable). Also, children and teens under 16 are not allowed to take these seats.

For all other seats, normal baggage storage rules apply: if you have a cabin bag, you can put it in one of the overhead compartments; if all you brought with you is a small bag, place it under the seat in front of you.

What to expect when flying with Ryanair

First and foremost, remember this is a company which caters to a low-cost market, so it’s important to set your expectations accordingly, as Ryanair’s main goal is to take you safely from Point A to point B for a competitive price. As such, and unlike flag carriers, providing a pleasant and refined flight experience certainly doesn’t sit at the top of Ryanair’s priorities. Remember – Ryanair warms your pocket, not your soul!

There’s no access to on-flight entertainment (take a good book and start downloading your favorite tv shows), no meal service and just enough leg room (but not too much). However, and should the munchies hit you mid-flight, you will be able to buy a few snacks, sandwiches or drinks from the onboard bar (though you can only pay using debit or credit card). Last, but certainly not least, if you find yourself on the brink of being bored to death, you can always buy one of Ryanair’s iconic scratch cards!

Another thing passengers must take into account when flying with Ryanair is the fact that the airline often serves only secondary airports, especially in big cities. Therefore, it is important that you plan ahead when it comes to the costs and time constraints of traveling between these airports and the centre of their respective cities. This information is valid for the airports which are served by Ryanair in Paris (Beauvais), London (Stansted), Munich (Memmingen), Milan (Bergamo), Frankfurt (Hahn), Brussels (Charleroi), Oslo (Torp) and Amsterdam (served through the airport in the city of Eindhoven).

Rules you must comply with when flying with Ryanair

As it happens with any other airline – and with life in general – you are required to display some sort of common sense. As such, passengers who behave in an erratic way that may lead to flight disruptions can find themselves being expelled from the aircraft or, in far more serious cases, detained by the police upon landing.

Deep down, you just have to avoid acting like a total idiot. Should be easy enough. 🙂

Other rules include an undisputed smoke-ban aboard any aircraft, as well as the prohibition to use bigger electronic devices (such as laptops) during take-off, landing, or while the seatbelt signs are on. Furthermore, all devices must also be switched to “Flight Mode” during the entirety of the flight.

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