Apr 17th, 2023, 12:00 PM

Ryanair: The Clickbait Airline

By Caitlin Daly
Image Credit: Unsplash / Markus Winkler
Booking a Ryanair flight means watching your 13-euro flight turn into a 113-euro flight and a headache.

So you want to travel, but you aren’t blessed with the luxury of a trust fund to finance your European self-discovery trip. Looks like you’ll be flying Ryanair. It really isn’t as bad as it's made out to be—if you ignore its capitalization on your very existence and the willingness to clickbait its own customers. 

Ok, maybe it’s not that dramatic, but the attractiveness of the bold blue and yellow color scheme and its affordability seems almost too good to be true. 

The most appealing aspect of Ryanair’s business model is obviously its low-cost flights. Ryanair’s website boasts flights across Europe from Paris for prices as low as 13 euros.

But is it really cheaper than other airlines? The short answer: Yes. An AirFrance flight to Prague in mid-May starts at 145 euros. Ryanair has flights to Prague on the same day for 23 euros. 

At first glance, this is a deal no one could pass up—except maybe the select few who deem themselves too good for limited leg room and microwave meals. However, the 23 euro price tag originally presented is not how much you actually end up paying. 

First, there is the dilemma of choosing your fare. This is the first indication that things are not as they seem. There are three levels to choose from, ranging from "value" which only includes one small bag, to "regular" which includes two carry-on bags and a reserved seat, to "plus" which includes the crown jewel of air travel: a checked bag. 

If you are superhuman and can go without certain luxuries like a bag larger than the micro-purse you take on a night out and…well…a seat, this works perfectly for you. However, if you do require basic human dignity, you will be subjected to an additional 21.50 euros per flight for the "regular" fare or 30.74 euros for "plus". 

Now that you have chosen your fare and doubled your travel costs, you are faced with even more choices on how you want to spend your money, because obviously you are enjoying all of the benefits of a capitalist society. 

Image Credit: Unsplash / Niklas Jonasson

Be wary of the dangers of being encouraged to pay a few extra euros to select a seat a few rows closer to the front of the plane. There is no visible difference between these seats so the difference between rows 18 and 19 must be life changing in a way that cannot be seen by the naked eye. 

Ryanair’s self-awareness also extends to its unreliability. Before confirming your ticket purchase, you are bombarded by an array of mind-numbingly vague fees, like travel insurance. The insurance section retains a slightly disconcerting slogan of “You can’t put a price on peace of mind.” This insurance ranges from coverage of medical expenses, lost baggage and unexpected cancelations. Ryanair values your life to be worth an additional 15 euros for "standard" insurance or an additional 18.29 euros for "Insurance plus". It seems these are incidents that happen frequently to Ryanair customers, so it’s probably best to cover all of your bases and buy the insurance. 

Another downfall specific to the Parisian budget traveler is that Ryanair flights from Paris leave from Paris-Beauvais Airport. Located an hour and fifteen minutes from the city center, Paris-Beauvais is only accessible by taxi or the Beauvais Bus, which costs 16.90 euros for a one-way adult ticket or 29.90 euros for a two-way adult ticket. This sits in stark contrast to Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly airports which are accessible by public transportation. 

The distance from AUP's Combes Building to the Paris Beauvais Airport, the only airport in Paris that provides Ryanair flights.

Finally, you have survived the hellscape of booking a Ryanair flight and are now presented with your total cost. Shockingly—or maybe not—this number most likely includes an entirely new figure that wasn’t there when you started this process. You now realize you have been clickbaited by an airline and your budget-friendly trip is now more of a budget acquaintance. 

Ryanair undoubtedly understands their target audience. They are infamous for their lack of frills and mountains of unnecessary additional fees, but it’s generally accepted because it is a part of the experience of being a broke student wanting to travel. So maybe business is just that? A target, a product to be sold and an audience to capitalize off of. 

However, the demeaning Ryanair experience still begs the question: how much are we willing to sacrifice to have what we want?