Ryanair – Still Getting Better?

Introduction
After avoiding FR for years I decided to give the another go in 2017 as they offered a great deal for a city trip to London. This made also for a nice opportunity to check out how Ryanair has changed after three years of their Always Getting Better Program (AGB). As I came back from that trip quite satisfied, I gave them another shot on a longer flight from Berlin (SXF) to Málaga, Spain.

 

Booking
Booking through their website was relatively straightforward. That said, you still have to fend off several up selling attempts including insurance, seat reservations, rental cars, hotels and other incidentals.Unfortunately, Ryanair has also decided to re-complicate its‘ baggage policies and rates, introducing fees for carry-ons among other changes. A new pitfall to avoid is that the fee for a checked bag almost doubles once booked after the ticket is issued (25 vs. 40 €) – so always consult their fee table before booking.

 

Check-in, Departure Airport
Online check-in was perfectly easy and took just two minutes. Bag-drop in Berlin-Schönefeld (SXF) was expedited with very little waiting time as well. Clearing security, on the other hand, took forever as it was a busy day at the end of the christmas holiday period.

Schönefeld airport, as well as Berlin-Tegel (TXL), would have been for years by now, being replaced by Berlins new International Airport (BER) but due to massive planning and engineering disasters the opening of BER is postponed until 2020 so SXF will have to remain open well past its prime. The terminals show their age and the whole place is dark, stuffy and overcrowded. The saving grace is the Mövenpick restaurant in Terminal D (airside) that sells a wide range of fresh and tasty snacks and flavorful swiss-style coffee.

Boarding started on time and was organized into two separate rows for priority and standard boarding. Beyond the gate both groups are reunited on the same bus and transferred to the Boeing 737 waiting at an outside position –  so paying for „priority“ on that day meant effectively a 5 € donation to Ryanair.

Bus Ride in SXF - El Al's short-lived low cost project "UP" - terminated in spring 2018
Bus Ride in SXF – El Al’s short-lived low-cost project „UP“ – terminated in spring 2018

 

Ryanair Boeing 737 in Berlin (SXF) Ready for Departure to Malaga, Spain
Ryanair Boeing 737 in Berlin (SXF) Ready for Departure to Malaga, Spain

Inflight
The flight was operated by a newer aircraft featuring the Boeing Sky Interior. Seat pitch is 30 inches which is one inch more than on Eurowings for instance, yet still felt tight.

 

Cleanliness Issues
Cleanliness Issues
More Polished Interior on this Boeing 737

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A notable improvement was the well-organized inflight service with flight attendants handing out inflight magazines containing menus first, then taking orders for hot meals and afterwards passing trough the aisle selling drinks and snacks from the cart. I decided to do the full luncheon thing and lived to regret it!

I bought three items from the friendly flight attendant and every one was awful in its own right:

The beer was lukewarm and well shaken,

 

The sandwich bland, soggy and loaded with additives and preservatives,

 

And the coffee tasted exactly the way my office coffee tastes when I accidentally brew the same Senseo pad twice.

I do get that with airline catering you often end up with reheated extra long shelf-life stuff, but this baguette was disgusting. To ruin even canned beer and coffee must be an art form in its own right. To add insult to injury this combo did cost me a whopping 13 € and I hereby solemnly swear to never ever again buy any food or drink on Ryanair, not even for the sake of a review.

 

Arrival, Onward Journey
The flight landed in Malaga on time and docked at a Jetway, which was convenient as it was raining quite hard. The walk to arrivals hall was short and bags started to appear on the belt about 12 minutes after landing which was pretty speedy.

Málaga – Costa del Sol (AGP) is a nice airport with an open and spacious architecture. There is a RENFE train station right next to the airport connected via a plaza lined with palm trees. Connections to downtown Málaga (Málaga Centro-Almeda) station are frequent. Take the Málaga Cercanías (RENFE) suburban train; the one-way fare is 2,20 €. Trains also serve many station on the Costa del Sol – check the itineraries at www.rome2rio.com.

So in a nutshell this flight was not too bad, but I still left somehow disappointed. Catering was complete disaster and the hard and tight seats were barely tolerable in this three-hour flight. This will not eliminate Ryanair from my list of relevant airlines, but they will have to offer a really low price in order to see me attract me as customer any time soon.

 

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