There are dozens of low-cost airlines out there: Flybe, Wizz Air, Aer Lingus and Jet2 just to name a few. When moving to Europe, however, the two most common and well-known airlines are easyJet and Ryanair. These are the far most popular airlines and every individual coming to London, whether to study or to find permanent accommodations, will often refer you to easyJet or Ryanair before any other cheap airline. This blog post is here to help you decide which airline is the best for your travel needs.
It’s important to acknowledge that neither airline is as bad as anyone makes it seem. For some reasons, Ryanair and easyJet have a reputation of being horrible and the planes themselves are unreliable. It seemed that many people believed that the airplanes themselves were crafted from junk you would find in a junkyard and not actual material. This is anything but the truth. Both airlines are safe and have a full steward staff, meals and snacks that can be purchased, safety protocols that they review before each flight and even play classical music when taking off and landing. Both airlines are two of the most popular airlines in Europe so don’t worry, you won’t die.
As to which one I prefer, it would be easyJet. easyJet simply has a cleaner plane and more leg room. The plane is bigger as well, so you don’t feel as claustrophobic when you’re squeezed into a plane for two hours. With easyJet you can also check in online and not have to wait through the lines to get your visa checked, which is huge because the lines can sometimes be long. Make sure you have access to a printer, as they do request you print your boarding information before you arrive to the airport. For the most part, easyJet and Ryanair are the same pricing wise, it all depends on preference.
Ryanair isn’t the worst thing in the world, though. The planes are smaller so leg room is a bit questionable when sitting on the flight for hours. The seats are plastic and a lot less comfortable so if you’re tall, like my best friend is, it may be more uncomfortable than you would want. They’re also more strict on the size of your carry-on and you do have to check into the airport before going through security, so make sure to get to the airport the two hours before the flight as they recommend.
If Ryanair is much cheaper than the easyJet price, I’d get the Ryanair ticket. It’s not the worst thing in the world to not be able to stretch your legs for a few hours if the tickets are significantly cheaper. Being a little cramped isn’t the worst thing in the world when setting off to explore new cities.
The only real negative is that they both fly into airports that are usually a half hour to an hour outside of the city, so you’ll have to take a bus or train ride to get to the city center. Even with that extra cost, they’re still cheaper than normal airlines. Make sure when leaving for the airport you think about traffic, as sometimes the only way to get to the airports is via buses. London has two airports well outside the city (Gatwick and Stansted) and the buses can take up to two hours to get to the airports.
For websites that can help with comparisons are Vayama and StudentUniverse. I have good friends that swear by Vayama but I have had great success with StudentUniverse, whether that was national flights through the US or international flights from London to Portugal, London to Germany or London to Spain. Both websites give you what are the cheapest flights for the times, and dates, you are looking into.
For more information check out this article by The Guardian: Ryanair vs easyJet.