Fun With easyJet and Ryanair
EasyJet and Ryanair are two popular budget European carriers, and both have astonishingly low prices on flights within and around Europe. The downside is that Ryanair has an infamous reputation of being unreliable, less than stellar customer service, and charging fees for almost every step of the flight experience. Add in their attention grabbing press releases involving pay toilets, standing room only flights and one person piloted planes, and it’s all the more reason to avoid them.
While easyJet is also billed as a budget carrier with a la carte fees, their reputation is a bit less tarnished. They’ve also been the focus of the UK TV show Airline, (the equivalent to A&E’s show starring Southwest airlines,) so after watching five minutes of any episode you’re a pro on what to expect.
Prices between the two are extremely competive. The screen shot below is from today, but a few weeks back when researching Madrid, Spain to Marrakesh, Morocco, Ryanair had a ridiculously cheap airfare of 17 Euro. $30 to fly to another continent is quite tempting. But knowing their reputation, and the fact I’d be getting stuck with a possible a carry on fee at the airport, easyJet’s fare for about 50 Euro (about $70) US was the obvious choice. (And pulled today it now matches Ryanair’s $37 price.)
Like any other well organized traveler I attempt to foresee problems, plan ahead and create contingencies for them. I try and fly on carriers with multiple flight options, however both easyJet and Ryanair each only have one Madrid-Marrakesh flight per day. A cancellation would shave an entire day off my short four day stay in Marrakesh.
When I looked at the flight schedules I saw that the Ryanair flight departed a few hours after the easyJet flight which I planned to purchase. For the Ryanair price of $30 I could purchase some “insurance” or “protection”, so if the easyJet flight was cancelled I could simply walk over to the Ryanair flight and still make Marresh a few hours later, minus whatever fees Ryanair would stick me with.
Same schedule on the return: easyJet leaves at 1:05pm, Ryanair at 3:30. What a great backup! Now there could be problems ditching an outbound flight on easyJet and attemping to use a return, but if you explained that your outbound flight was cancelled and you made other arrangements it may be passable. And if denied the Ryanair flight is waiting just two hours later. Either way I now have a backup plan in case easyJet turns out to be difficult that day.
It can’t be a good thing that my confidence in airlines is so low that I book two tickets on different carriers with the expectation that one will fail, but in this case it makes sense, and will allow me to make the most of my time in Marrakesh.
easyJet photo by Wikicommons