A Guide to European Discount Airlines

Traveling around Europe is fun, easy, and thanks to discount airlines, cheap! Through airlines like Ryanair and easyJet you can find flights for as little as $15 one way. There is a catch though: for that price you are paying only for the plane to bring you from point A to B. These discount airlines find other ways to make money, and not paying attention to their rules can come at a price (literally). Here are some things to be aware of when flying these types of airlines:

Checked baggage is not included

If you would like to check a bag, fees typically range from $20 – $70 depending on flight duration and if you purchase added baggage online or at the airport. Most checked bag weight allowances are 20kg, and if you exceed this then you can end up paying up to $15 per kilogram overweight.

There are restrictions on your carry on baggage

Although carry on luggage is included with your ticket, it must be within a certain size and weight limit or else you can be charged as much as $65 for it. Some airlines, like Ryanair, even hold the right to refuse oversized carry on baggage at the boarding gate.

On easyJet flights you can only bring one piece of carry on baggage. This means if you have a purse or laptop bag in addition to a suitcase, it must fit inside of the suitcase or else you could be charged to check a bag.


Check in online ahead of time and print your boarding pass

When you check in online you’ll get a pdf of your boarding pass to print. If you don’t print it, then Ryanair will charge you $20 to print it at the airport. If you forget to check in ahead of time, then you will end up paying nearly $60 to check in at the desk.

Food and drink cost money

Be sure to purchase any snacks and drinks in the airport before boarding because there are no complimentary refreshments onboard. Food and drink are available, but for a hefty price (a bottle of water can be more than $4).

Airports are not always in the city

Ryanair tends to fly into smaller airports in towns that are outside of the city that you’re trying to fly to. For example, Oslo Rygge airport is in Rygge, Norway which is located nearly 40 miles outside of Oslo. These airports have busses to bring you to into the city (for a price, of course) but they can take up to an hour.


No connecting flights

Discount airlines tend to only offer direct flights. If you decide to book two flights through a discount airline such as Ryanair or easyJet to get from points A – C, it is suggested that you leave at least 2 – 4 hours free in between them. When you land for your “layover” you must exit the wait area, go through baggage claim, re-check your bag, and pass through security again. Treat this as two separate flights (A – B, B – C) and not one journey with a traditional layover (A – B – C). If you miss your second flight, most discount airlines will not refund you and you will be stuck buying a new flight with them.

Visa check for Ryanair

If you are not flying with an EU passport, then you must go to the check in desk with your boarding pass for a visa check where they will stamp your boarding pass. If you don’t do this, then Ryanair can refuse to let you board the flight.


As long as you take note of these points, discount airlines are a great option for intra Europe traveling on a budget. Happy travels!


Images provided by CAPA alumna Jillian Sylvester.

By Jillian Sylvester
Jillian Sylvester Intern Jillian Sylvester