Ultimately, the most important factor in choosing an airline is whatever is most important to you. For some this might be the price; for others, it might be the ease of making reservations or the availability of certain itineraries.
There are factors discussed in this article that shouldn't be overlooked as you consider which airline to fly on your next trip. Learn about some of the other differences between Ryanair and easyJet that can help you make your decision.
Ryanair has tried to be a friendlier airline after the company tried to change its image, CEO Michael O'Leary famously said, "If I’d only known that being nice to customers was going to be so good for my business I would have done it years ago". Ryanair's website, which tries to remove a lot of the problems people used to have with the company, is a step in the right direction.
Selecting Your Route and Travel Dates
Ryanair's website allows you to type in 'London' or 'United Kingdom' to see every relevant result, but you can't select 'London' to choose from routes for all London airports. Instead, you need to pick just one airport. On the contrary, with easyJet's website, you can search for flights from 'London' rather than picking a particular airport.
Other important website characteristics to take into consideration:
- Ryanair has a better suggestion tool, offering the cheapest flights from the airport you've chosen.
- If you are conducting several searches in a row, easyJet does a better job of remembering your previously selected dates and routes while Ryanair always resets to your closest airport.
- easyJet defaults to a 3-day view, but you can easily switch it to a three-week view. Ryanair only shows you prices for the day you selected and a couple of days before (but, inconsistently, only for the flight out, not the return flight).
If you know where your flights and routes already, Ryanair's booking experience is now better than easyJet's, with fewer pages, no need to log in and fewer add-ons to turn down. However, if like most budget airline passengers, you are still shopping around, you'll find that easyJet has a much better user experience.
Price transparency is a valuable feature of any airline website. The easyJet website gives you the 'debit card' and 'credit card' price on the flight selection screen, while Ryanair doesn't tell you how much each card fee will be until after you've put all the passenger details in.
Ryanair has come a long way since the old days of tricking you into paying for things you don't want to. Now by default, Ryanair adds nothing to your basket, even travel insurance is easy to avoid. If you do want extras, Ryanair makes it easy to purchase all sorts of services, like luggage, car rental, specific seats, insurance, and more.
On the other hand, easyJet has two pages of extras, including hotels. If you decide you don't want any of the extras, they give you one of those annoying, 'Are you sure?' pages.
Despite the improvements to the transparency in booking extras on Ryanair's website, booking the cheapest flights and being sure of the fees before making a decision put easyJet's website well in the lead. It is far simpler to find the best flight on easyJet's site than Ryanair's.
Better Website: easyJet
Airlines need to make a certain amount of money per seat to break even but that doesn't mean they'll charge you everything up front. It costs each airline the same amount to check you in or fix a typo on your boarding card, so when you see one airline charge silly amounts for such things, you have to question the overall ethos of the company. Such penalties are devious, but which airline is worse when it comes to additional fees: Ryanair or easyJet?
Airport Check-In Fees Compared
It makes sense to check-in online, particularly if you have no luggage to check, as it means you can straight through security. Unless you are a non-EU citizen traveling with Ryanair, online check-in is obviously preferable, but sometimes you can't, or you forget. You can expect an additional fee for using airport check-in on Ryanair, but easyJet does not levy such fees.
Non-EU Travel Document Check
Not a fee as such, but a relic of Ryanair's former ways: non-EU citizens are required to go to a desk to check they have the right documents to travel. If you fail to do this, you will be denied boarding. Why would they want to deny you boarding? As Ryanair is the only airline to require this, easyJet comes out on top in this category, also.
Name Change Fees
A common obstacle encountered by Ryanair passengers in the past was being forced to pay a 'name change fee' to correct a typo or incorrect use of a married name when a passenger's passport showed her maiden name. Anecdotal evidence suggests that these fees can be avoided if you phone their call center (and get a friendly person on the line), plus one would expect Ryanair's new 'friendly' style might mean they are more forgiving than they used to be. Again, easyJet does not do this
Better Fee Policies: easyJet
Both airlines have a flawed baggage policy, with Ryanair performing slightly better on carry-on bags, while easyJet has better checked-bag policies.
The 'guaranteed hand baggage' policy has been dropped by easyJet, which is a disappointing step backward for the airline. There may be an unlimited weight policy for carry-on luggage, but this policy is a bit meaningless as most airlines end up allowing unlimited weight in your cabin bags.
Allowable Carry-On Sizes:
- easyJet: 56 x 45 x 25cm
- Ryanair: 55 x 40 x 20cm, plus a second bag measuring 35 x 20 x 20 cm
Ryanair's new extra-small bag is great for cameras, laptops, and handbags, which used to have to go into your main luggage (still the policy on easyJet), but the airline still lets you down with a very small main bag. Allowed bags are a mere 20cm deep, which means a lot of people will need to purchase a new bag to meet these requirements.
Both airlines have flawed policies, but Ryanair wins by a hair, as long as you already have a small enough case acceptable to the airline.
easyJet has a simple '20€ for 20kg' ($22 for 44 pounds) policy, but Ryanair's allowance is all over the place, with a different price for different weights, seasons and destinations.
- easyJet: 20kg. 20€. ($22), 45€ ($51) at the airport
- Ryanair: 15kg or 20kg. 15€ for 15kg. ($17 for 33 pounds) to 70€ ($68) high season price
Best Overall Baggage Allowance: Tied
Ryanair and easyJet don't often fly the same route. To assess each airline's performance on price, we will take randomly selected off-season routes to compare. All are booked three months in advance, flying on a Thursday and returning on Monday whenever possible. Prices are for two people and all are without baggage, but including all other compulsory fees (such as credit card fees). Travelers have some flexibility and chose the cheapest fare within a window of a couple of weeks.
It is much easier to have such flexibility with easyJet as they have a better 'flexible search' option than Ryanair does. Interestingly, Ryanair usually beats easyJet on price, but usually not by much. However, when Ryanair is more expensive, it is a lot more expensive.
Obviously, you need to always shop around and don't believe that the airline you normally fly with is always the cheapest.
Routes and Availability
A problem with making these price comparisons was that Ryanair often didn't cover the selected route, or the route was currently not available, this was particularly the case for Edinburgh flights.
In addition, Ryanair has still not stopped the practice of unilaterally naming an airport after a city that is often 60 miles away. Ryanair claims to fly to three Barcelona airports, though there only one. The situation is even worse with Ryanair's so-called Paris airports (Vatry airport is 90 miles from the center of Paris). On the other hand, easyJet flies to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, the main airport for the French capital.
Best Prices: Route Dependent