We, my husband and I often travel on budget airlines for short-haul flights. With all the travel over the last few years I can attest to the fact that you certainly do get what you pay for.
We chose Ryan Air, an Irish budget airline for our last trip. These airlines charge peanuts for airfares, but a premium for all other travel necessities. Everyone travels coach class, and you get no preallocated seats. Let’s take a closer look at this ‘one class fits all’ boarding process.
- Each person is allowed a cabin bag for free.
- The above mentioned is the only thing getting on a plane for free.
- Each bag must be under 10Kgs, otherwise you must pay $$ and check it in.
Steps you can take in order to avoid bag check in:
- Pack less than 10Kgs – let’s face it, even when you add up the bare essentials for a 4-5 day trip, you’re already up to about 7 already!
- Pack more than 10Kgs and hope you never get caught – there are 2 possible points of failure here. First is the check in counter, second is the boarding gate. Both stops have extremely bored staff who either weigh your luggage or ‘eyeball’ it. If you’re lucky and you get a very sleep deprived eyeball, then you’re in! if you’re unlucky and get weighed, then you’re not getting on that plane unless you give them $$. Epic fail!
- Pack close to 10Kgs in your luggage, and wear everything else – Layer it. Wear 2 Tees, 2 jackets, maybe 2 pairs of pants, take the opportunity to up your cup/trunk size.. you get the drift.. albeit the risk of looking like big bird, or a lunatic with 6 layers in summer, this maybe the best way to get thru!
Steps you can take to make sure you avoid embarrassment:
- If you’re one of the ‘chosen’ ones, Ryan air ask you to fit your luggage into one of these
Do , try to fit your bag in only if you have any hope of taking it out again, without having to get pliers to cut the bag out of the metal structure. (you will of-course have to pay to check in and damaged equipment)
Don’t, try to fit your bag in if you will either embarrass yourself as described above, or loose luggage parts in the bag removal process. See below (this happened to us, and we lost the handle trying to get the bag out of the box.)
As we approached the gate, we thought we were going to get done. This time was even more dire – the lady at the gate must have been going through some serious relationship issues and thought she would take out all her anger on the world – she was making absolutely everyone fit their bags in the metal case. No one was spared. Slowly, we inched our way forward. We could feel our hearts beating… boomboom…boomboom. One by one people were pushing and pulling luggage in and out of the case. The before and after looks on each of their faces brilliant – the before: sweating like a man in baby delivery room, the after: the jubilation of winning the lottery. It was like waiting in line at the principal’s office. 1 down 2 to go, 1 more down…
Our name was up – it was our turn. My husband pushed our bag in with a nervous grunt. It went in – phew! We didn’t think it was possible. Now came the hard part – we’ve seen it a thousand times and laughed at other people and imagined them just walking into the flight with the Ryanair luggage metal-case thing, with their bag still inside.
He tried with all his strength to take the bag out – uh oh. He tried again. Again. And again. Suddenly, there was success with a loud “Cling”. Yes we did it! Oh hang on, why is there a metal contraption in my hand?? Oh yes, It wasn’t the bag, it was the bag handle that came off.. the luggage was now handle-less.
There was no time to mourn the untimely demise of the handle. We had to get on with it – avoiding any eye contact to spare us from the embarrassment of the watchers by in the queue. So now we were both on all fours, prodding the bag inside from all angles. I was pushing, he was pulling. Meanwhile, a long line of nervous and amused passengers were looking on and the luggage nazi was yelling ‘Pull, pull!’ And then voila! It came out. What a glorious moment, our bag popped out! I imagine this is what King Arthur felt when he pulled out the sword of Excalibur all those years ago.
Yes, it was embarrassing and to add insult to injury, we had to casually walk away from the scene with the bag in one hand and the handle in the other – like everything was fine.
Now we have to buy a new bag.
So this got me thinking, do you really cut costs when you do budget travel? what about the extra you pay for food when you inevitably get hungry on the flight? what about broken luggage handles, or regretful bag check ins? Is it just better to travel with standard airlines instead?