April 7

Up in the RyanAir

This articles title is inspired by the movie “Up In the Air”. It was released a couple of years ago and starts George Clooney as a roaming “severance” expert (his job is to fire people). Watching the movie I a struck by home adopted similar strategies for getting through the airport experience as him. Remember “its not racist – its called stereotyping – it’s faster…”

About 4 years ago I would have said I was a road warrior.  Back then as a freelance VMware Instructor I’d fly around Europe delivering the official curriculum for partners – and on average I do 2-3 weeks away, followed by 1-2 weeks at home. One year it got so crazy that I didn’t teach at all in my home country. I did 8 week stint across Europe, on that last week I woke up in my hotel room unsure of what EU country I was in. Any road warrior will tell you of tales of 5mins of existential panics induce by this. That’s when I decided I need to regain control of my schedule.

So there will come a point in time that whether you like it or not you take a flight with the low-cost airline “RyanAir”. The airline as unenviable reputation for value for money flights, but also less than enviable quality of experience or customer service. With that said, I’m a firm believer of you get what you pay for – so here’s my tips for smoothing your way thru the process. In truth some of this stuff applies regardless of airline.

1. Never let travel agent book a Ryanair flight. Online web-checking is mandatory. Your travel agent is unlikely not to provide the right details to complete this process. Failure not to print your boarding pass before checking results in €70 “admin fee” both ways. So save yourself the heartache of service desk queuing… And book you flight with your credit card.

Incidentally, there’s no Ryanair App. You must print a paper boarding pass or checking at machine. Some cynics say this is a deliberate ploy to catch out unsuspecting passengers with €70 surcharge…

2. Don’t pay for priority boarding. In most case you will be on a bus for the gate to the plane. Your priority boarding gets you thru the gate quickly but your priority boarding will be meaningless once you with the rest of the Proles. Instead seat yourself close to the gate, and get ready to scramble before others in to the boarding queue.

3. Don’t pay for a seat. Do the above. With luck you will be on the first bus to the plane, and you will have the pick of the seats. Sadly, the boarding process for Ryanair can resemble the trying to get the last plane out of Saigon or Uganda

Saigon-hubert-van-es
RyanAir first experimental helicopter service…

4. Aisle or window? If you do 2/3 it won’t matter. But what ever you do… Sit at the front. Ryanair flights board from front & rear, but it’s not uncommon to find at arrival the ground crew forget to bring steps for the rear. Most Ryanair Boeing 737 have their own steps at the front. The only time I board at the rear is when I’ve failed to do 2/3 often you find a single seat close the rear exit, and if you lucky you can exit plane as fast from the rear as you can from the front. A swift exit means you first to pass thru passport control… If your a regular travel its worth paying for e-passport to pass through your own countries customs systems quicker. Right now most tourists are too scared to use the machines – so the ratios aren’t too bad. There have been occasions where the queue for the machines is longer than for the human… You do the math…

5. Never check a bag. If you must there’s almost no point to worrying about 2/3/4. Sit down. Relax. Board last. Why rush if you going to wait 20-30mins for you baggage to arrive on a carousel. You best bet to minimise pain is carry on, and you also avoid Mr O’Leary baggage charge. If you’ve checked a bag, board at the rear there are always spare seats, and in your in no hurry to disembark right because you CHECKED A BAG [that was your first mistake!). It always makes despair the when perfect reasonable humans, descending into the cattle they airlines think there – pushing and shoving to get off the plane only find themselves standing by the bagage conveyer belt…

6. Get the right carry on bag. This was my personal quest for many years. Each time I tried something new I went back to a tried and trusted configuration. It has a side zip pocket for getting yourr laptop in out which helpful when passing thru security. It’s big enough to take a mini laptop bag for your use during the week – its sort of “recessed” into the case itself rather than being an external pocket. I’ve never had airline question it’s size. There’s pockets on the outside for your docs, keys and other personal affects… I’ve struggled to find this online because I would normally pickup a replacement in-store once a year (that’s how long it will last until it breaks with hard-core usage), however this is very close. Perhaps they’ve discontinued my perfect road-warrior bag. Perhaps I also need to GET-A-LIFE as well…

7. Longer flight? Hungry? Thirsty? Buy your snack before the airport to avoid being grifted at the airport, don’t bring or buy drink before passing through security. Liquids aren’t allowed thru remember…

7. Misc.

Slip on shoes for security, less hassle than laces. One pair of comfortable shoes you can wear for work or leisure – shoes in yr carry on a waste of space. I feel sorry for the ladies – but if you are a lady dispense with heels and opt for smart pumps. (Am I qualified to give fashion advice? I don’t think so…) So I asked a young lady sat next to me – Bruna Chezzi who runs the rather interesting www.WelshItalians.com. [I was actually writing this article on the RyanAir flight back from the Italy VMUG event in Milan]. She agreed that light casual shoes for the day/flight – and some sort of evening shoes that might be a bit smarter for work or in the evening would work for the female travel.

Never take of your shoes or belt at security queue unless specifically asked by staff. Detectors hardly ever get activated by belt buckles. Slip on shoes aren’t the footwear preferred by shoe-bombers… When I’ve been asked to remove shoes, belts etc, I nearly always offer to remove my trousers as well – just as joke don’t you know. I often think the new security regulations (which are for own good remember!) are border-line strip-tease…

If checking a bag in make sure you have passport, keys, wallet, cell on you – ready for when your airline looses your bag. At least you can still get taxi to the hotel, or drive your car home from the airport…. Invest some jacket that you can zip this stuff into and getting the habit of putting the same pocket everytime. It stops that incessant fumbling infrequent fliers have trying to locate their phone..

Print 1 single sheet of paper with flight, hotel, venue details and map. TripIt rocks, but it’s not much used to if leave your phone on the kitchen table. It’s also useful for pointing at if you get into a taxi in Athens where the taxi-driver doesn’t speak a word of English. Come on people, its the international language of business – and more affective than SPEAKING LOUDER which is the approach most Brits use abroad to be understood….

Travelling in your home country? Get a Mifi. Whilst many enlightened hotels of offer free WiFi, many don’t. A Mifi unit will connect all your devices to the web… And even if you only use it once or twice month it will pay for itself. Roaming? Sign up for providers “passport” scheme, and then make a mental note of the hotels you travel to WiFI policy. Radisson SAS hotels are good quality and never charge. They are almost EU wide chain and pleasant to stay in – especially in the Nordics. I used to travel to Netherlands a lot and stay in Bastion Hotels. The quality is very variable. The one near Schipol is quite pleasant, the one in Zoetermeer less so. But they have free WiFi and for that I will even forgive twin-beds. I’ve never understood why hotels put single travellers in a twin-bed rooms. Is there to remind us of the cosmic loneliness of road-warrior?

For me free WiFi is more important than any other stuff the hotel offers you – apart of course a bed for the night, and a shower for the morning…


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Posted April 7, 2013 by Michelle Laverick in category "Other