I’ve been writing airline reviews for many years now, and it’s always baffled me how the most common request I get (over and over) is to give the basic Ryanair 737-800 economy experience a try.
Wouldn’t it be more fun to read a review about some fancy-pants international business class seat that only travel influencers fly? Why does everyone want to see me squirm on an ultra low cost carrier out of tiny overcrowded airports I can barely pronounce?
But hey. I live to serve, and today I’m serving up a Ryanair review from London (Stansted) to Dublin. Squirming included!
London, England (STN) – Dublin, Ireland (DUB)
Saturday, September 21, 2019
Duration: 52 minutes
Seat: 6A (regular economy)
My full review of Ryanair 737-800 basic economy from London (STN) to Dublin
Do I dare kick off this Ryanair review with the admission that I paid $300 to ride in a car from one end of London to another? Well, I knew it was gonna be expensive to take a taxi from LHR to STN but…my god! It would’ve been cheaper to fly! Oh well.
My delayed arrival into Heathrow from Dubai forced me into it since it was the fastest option and I really didn’t want to miss my flight over to Dublin.
Arrival at the London Stansted Airport
Believe me. I didn’t want to tell you what I paid on cab fare to get to STN, but as you’ll see, it ended up being a crucial part of my very first Ryanair experience. Starting this review any other way would’ve been unthinkable.
How is Stansted Airport even considered to be London? Figuring in the time and cost it took to get here, that’s like calling San Diego International Airport an alternative to LAX. It’s just not.
In addition to the visa issue, one of the things that always confuses me when traveling in internationally is the process for going through customs when making a connecting flights in Europe. No, I wasn’t technically making a connection today, though I was technically traveling between two European countries.
Did I need to go though customs and passport control for this? Long story short: yes. Yes I did.
Inside though Stansted Airport terminal
I had a few minutes to spare after clearing security (and customs), so why not spend even more money on an overpriced lunch? By the way, if it wasn’t obvious by now, the angry music I chose for the intro to my video didn’t happen by accident. I was still feeling quite bitter.
If there was anything pleasantly surprising this morning, it was the realization that Stansted airport is pretty nice actually. Yeah, it’s a little crowded, but it wasn’t hard to find a quiet spot to get away from it all.
On a side note, how much you wanna bet that taxi driver laughed his ass off all the way back to Heathrow?
Boarding Ryanair flight 225 (FR225) to Dublin
The gate for my flight over to Dublin was posted just 10 minutes before boarding was scheduled to begin. I guess they were trying to keep everyone in the main terminal spending money in the shops and restaurants, which totally worked because, well, I’m not even going to admit how much I paid for that noodle bowl.
When it comes to flying Ryanair, there are two choices: Non Priority, and Priority. I splurged for the Priority option, only because I wanted a seat ahead of the wing for decent views of the wing and engine. Which have been totally lacking from my reviews lately, I know.
This being my very first Ryanair flight and all, I found the boarding process to be…interesting. You see, I assumed that we’d actually be boarding the plane once they let us out onto the tarmac. Silly me. There were still people deplaning from the previous flight!
As a hardcore AvGeek who likes being around airplanes, I didn’t mind having to stand out here in the hot sun while the cabin crew did what they needed to do to prep this flight over to Dublin. The guy standing behind me, however, was spewing profanity like an angry marine.
Ok, here we go! It’s not often I’m able to get air stair footage such as this, and I was quickly reminded of how awkward it is to be pointing a camera directly into the rear ends of complete strangers.
My first impressions of the Ryanair 737-800 Basic economy seats
As I mentioned earlier, I paid a little extra to be seated towards the front for this Ryanair review, which ended up being a decent choice. Keep in mind that Rose one through five are considered “premium” seats with a few extra inches of legroom. I was in row 6 (the first row of regular economy).
For what it’s worth, I was definitely prepared for kneecap-crushing leg room – but woefully unprepared for the yellow headrests.
Departure from the Stansted Airport
For a guy who had been up all night flying a redeye in from Dubai (and then being extorted out of $300 to get from Heathrow to Stansted), I was in an awfully good mood just moments before pushing off the gate.
Hard to believe we didn’t crash and burn on the takeoff, isn’t it? YES, I’m joking. But seriously, despite all the negativity I’ve heard about Ryanair over the years, this had been a pleasantly normal experience so far. Except for the yellow headrests of course.
Much how it is on Spirit Airlines back in the US, there is indeed full cabin service on Ryanair. However, you’re gonna pay dearly for it, and I couldn’t justify spending the money. Yeah, I was still just a little bitter about that $300 taxi ride this morning.
From what I could tell, food on Ryanair is very much like how it is here in the United States on airlines such as Spirit and Frontier. There’s a menu at every seat, and the flight attendant will come down the aisle with the food cart. Just know that nothing is free and you’re going to pay dearly for anything. Even water.
As far as the food itself, it looked to be exactly the same as what we will get here on either Spirit or Frontier. It’s basically prepackaged cafeteria food (the kind with a long shelf life) and you’re going to pay quite a lot for very little.
The descent and landing
Flying time between London and Dublin is just a short 45 minutes, and there was actually very little cruise time at full altitude. As soon as we were up, we started the descent down, and…man I’ve forgotten how beautiful Ireland is.
As we made the approach into Dublin, I had an interesting thought: I snickered when I first saw the safety information printed so boldly on the headrest, but having evacuation instructions right there in our faces will come in handy if we survive a crash landing. Call me morbid, but it’s actually quite a brilliant design detail.
Arrival in Dublin
It’s been many years since I’ve last been in Ireland, and it was a pretty good feeling to be back. It was also a pretty good feeling knowing that it was a Ryanair review that brought me here. Why? Well, it helped me reach the conclusion that this isn’t that bad of an airline actually. Yeah, the boarding process was a bit sketchy, but I think that I’d fly Ryanair all the time if I lived in Europe.
I’d also highly recommended paying a little extra for perks such as reserved seats and priority boarding like I did. Although, priority boarding might mean standing out on the tarmac for 15 minutes while everyone else gets to wait inside, so beware.
Ryanair 737-800 basic economy pros and cons
As you just read, my first ever Ryanair experience was good. As a matter of fact, I didn’t really consider it to be all that different than a lot of other airline these days (anywhere else in the world). Sure, the seats were very narrow and firm (and the leg room was atrocious). But it still felt like a lot of other Boeing 737-800 experiences I’ve had over the years. Ryanair isn’t that different.
- It’s hard to complain about anything when they charge so little to fly across Europe.
- There is food available on board (if you’re willing to pay for it), so it’s not like you’re going to starve or anything.
- The aircraft I was on was shockingly clean and well-maintained.
- Full-size tray tables on an ultra low-cost airline? You’ve got to be kidding!
- Those effin’ seats! Not only are they extremely narrow, but they’re extremely hard as well. RIP to your delicate derriere on flights longer than 2 hours.
- The way they make passengers queue up outside (prior to boarding) can be problematic when the weather ain’t so great.