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RyanAir - go find a computer

RyanAir has announced that from 1st October, there will be no Ryanair check-in desk at any of its airports, and everyone must check-in online and print off their boarding pass.

On the one hand RyanAir check-in is more flexible than British Airways etc, who don't let you check-in online until 24 hours before departure, and won't let you use the check-in kiosks at the airport until 2 hours before departure (why?).

So if you're on your return sector home from an unfamiliar city, and you can't find internet access before you reach the airport, it’s no good being there 3 hours ahead hoping to reserve your seat before everyone else.

RyanAir at least looks good on paper, in that currently you can check-in online from 15 days ahead, up until 4 hours before departure. So for a 2 week trip you can actually check-in for both sectors and print off your boarding passes before you leave home.

However, if you're going away for more than 2 weeks, or you forget/lose your return boarding pass, then you have to allow time to track down an internet cafe before you go to the airport.

Unless you've got your own WiFi enabled laptop with you (who wants to lug that on a wilderness holiday), I've never seen an internet cafe landside in a European airport (only airside after Security), so you can't rely on being able to check-in when you get to the airport – and without a boarding pass you can't get past Security to get to the internet cafe.

Given that I'm the sort of person who doesn't have the time / can't be bothered to refuel the Rental Car before returning it, I certainly don't aim to allow another hour to drive miles out of my way to find an internet cafe, to pay £1 to park the car, then £5 to check-in and print off my boarding pass. That might take me longer than the flight itself.

I stopped using RyanAir after they stranded me in Beauvais (Paris) on a Saturday night with a technical failure, with no compensation of course, but to rub salt in the wound they confirmed that the earliest flight I could be on standby for was 3 days later on Tuesday – so of course I made alternative arrangements with EuroStar on the Sunday at great expense and forfeited the return ticket.

Along with the proposal to charge £1 to use the toilet - why not charge £5 for a face mask to protect against swine flu whilst you're at it – I think this must be the straw that really breaks the patience of the airline’s customers.

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Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 04 May, 2009, 09:13Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

"Unless you've got your own WiFi enabled laptop with you (who wants to lug that on a wilderness holiday), I've never seen an internet cafe landside in a European airport (only airside after Security), so you can't rely on being able to check-in when you get to the airport – and without a boarding pass you can't get past Security to get to the internet cafe."

This is so true.  However, if your cell phone has 3G (or even gprs) and a web browser, you might be able to check-in with it (check your data plan though). Many airlines also offer a SMS-check-in possibility, which is quite handy, especially as you receive an invitation message to check-in and instructions how to do so as soon as the online check-in is open.

When airlines say that they are moving on to "paperless" ticketing, it is actually very often only an evil plan to pass the printing (and environmental) bourden on to the customer's shoulders. Nearly all airports require you to have a printed boarding pass that you show the officials. You cannot print with your cell phone, so why bother with the electronic check-in at all?  Luckily a few airports have started to accept text on a cell phone screen as a boarding pass as well. Hopefully this will be more common in the future.

I recall once this year travelling in Europe, where approaching the security check one had to show their boarding pass. Either it had to be the "long slip" traditional boarding pass, or an internet print with a machine readable bar code. I had neither. The officer told me to get the traditional one from the airline office, but since I had queued for the security check for half an hour, I was not going to give up that easy and queue another 30 minutes for a stupid piece of paper. 

I managed to get my mail browser on my phone (Nokia e90 communicator) fired up on 3G and pointing at my "online boarding pass". I managed to zoom the page so that only the bar code on it was visible, and passed the phone on to the officer. His barcode reader read the code without a hitch, and I felt relieved as I was allowed to move on. 

eTicketing with (compulsory) paper boarding passes?  I don't know should I laugh or cry...

Keith Appleyard

Keith Appleyard

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