Ryanair charges: how to dodge them

Easy tricks to make sure your cheap flight stays cheap

Ryanair profits

Ryanair's extra charges can drive travellers round the bend. The flight seems very cheap, and you're delighted to have found a bargain - but once you have paid to correct a typo in your booking, print out a boarding pass, and add another suitcase, the fees could add up to the equivalent of an extra week in the sun. It's no surprise that Ryanair leaves many of their passengers fuming.

However, it doesn't have to be this way. If you plan to fly Ryanair, and you stick to these five basic rules, then you should be able to sidestep the vast majority of the most irritating charges.

1. Fly with just hand luggage
You'll have to pay a fee if you want to check in your luggage. How much you'll pay for two checked-in bags will depend on the weight you want to carry, the date of travel, and whether you book online. The cost ranges from £15 each way to £75 each way.

If you pack wisely, you should be able to get everything you need into your hand luggage (just make sure you don't take a bag that's too big or you'll end up having to check it in anyway). Canny travellers will wear several layers of clothes on the plane, and stuff underwear and even shoes into coat pockets - which can then be put under the seat in front of you. Rolling up items instead of folding them when you pack will they take up far less space.

Check out our video on how to pack here.

If you can't squeeze it all in, then make sure you book the luggage in online and in advance, where the maxim charge is £45 each way - compared to £75.

2. Do everything online
Ryanair has two levels of fees for almost everything. One for if you book something online, and the other if you do it either over the phone or at the airport. So, for example, if you need to add a light suitcase in low season, it'll cost you £15 each way online or twice as much by phone or at the airport.

3. Double- and triple-check all the details you input
It's easy to accidentally include a typo when you're filling in your details online. However, if you make a mistake, you'll need to change it before you fly, and after the first 24 hours every change will incur a fee of £110 (£160 if you do it by phone or at the airport). The only way to prevent this is to input the details, then check them and check them again, so you are absolutely certain you haven't made a mistake before you submit your information.

4. Check in online, print your boarding passes, and make sure you take them with you
Some of the most hefty and unfair charges are for checking in at the airport or printing replacement boarding cards. Ryanair will charge you £45 per person (each way) to check you in, or £15 per person each way to reprint your boarding card. It's therefore worth making this the first step in your holiday packing, so you can get your boarding passes in the front pocket of your hand luggage before you do anything else.

The other useful tip when you're booking in is to do it as soon as you are allowed to. If you want a seat right at the front you'll have to pay a fee of at least £15 each way, if you want a premium seat it will cost you £10.99, and to specify a particular regular seat you'll pay £5.99. If sitting near the front is important to you, and you get in early enough, you can pay the fee for the regular seat, and get one just one row behind the premium seats people are paying much more for.

5. Think about how you want to pay
This isn't a clear-cut decision. If you pay by credit card you have additional rights if the company was to fail to deliver, because as long as you paid more than £100 you would have the right to reclaim your money from your credit card company under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

However, Ryanair charges 2% of the total sum for paying by credit card, and no fee for paying by debit card. It's up to you to decide whether you are willing to pay for the extra protection, or whether your travel insurance gives you all the cover you need.

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