When one thinks of low-cost European carriers, two airlines that pop into their mind would likely easyJet and Ryanair. Both airlines have played a significant role in changing the low-cost carrier landscape in Europe and around the world over the past couple of decades. Ryanair is an Irish based brand, headquartered in Dublin while easyJet is a British brand headquartered in Luton. Throughout this article, we will breakdown the differences between the two airlines and conclude as to which of the two is better.
Ryanair was founded in 1984 in Waterford Airport, Ireland by Christopher Ryan. The first scheduled flight was from Waterford to Gatwick. Over the years, the airline has grown considerably. Ryanair moved from Waterford airport operations to Dublin airport, where it has been ever since. Ryanair has expanded to become a significant European low-cost airline.
easyJet was founded in 1995 by Stelios Haji-Ioannou. The airline’s base was set up in London Luton Airport where it remains to this day. easyJet originally leased some Boeing 737’s and flew to Glasgow and Edinburgh. In April 1996, easyJet received its first wholly-owned aircraft; this allowed them to fly on routes such as London Luton to Amsterdam. easyJet followed the same route as Ryanair by expanding its network and reducing costs onboard. easyJet now operates all over the European continent and has bases in countries such as Spain, France and The Netherlands. Today, the carrier operates an all-Airbus fleet, flying the Airbus A320 family.
For this comparison, we will be looking at a few fundamental topics. These are price, comfort and convenience.
Both carriers operate a lot of routes with low price on tickets.
The price of an easyJet flight from London Southend to Malaga on July 1st is as low as £133.99 one way.
- Bags over 15kg cost £32.74 per flight
- Bags over 23kg cost £36.49 per flight
- Bags over 26kg cost £48.49 per flight
- One free small cabin bag.
For our example, we’re going to choose the basic one-way flight and add a 15kg bag. The total is £166.73.
The price of a Ryanair flight from London Southend to Malaga on the same day is as low as £111.99. This price gets you no seat selection and one small cabin bag.
- £134.99 with regular gets you priority and 2 small cabin bags and a reserved seat.
- £156.99 gets you 1 small bag, reserved seat, 20kg check-in bag and free airport check-in.
- £192.84 gets you Priority boarding, 2 cabin bags, reserve any seat, fast track security, free check-in at the airport and Flexible tickets.
For our example, we’re going to choose the regular £134.99 deal as we’re on a budget.
The clear winner is Ryanair in this round. Of course, the amount you’re spending varies on the route, when you’re flying and demand. This is just an example of a flight to and from the same airports. With Ryanair, you get things such as fast track security, free check-in and priority boarding with it. easyJet offers 2 cabin bags, dedicated Bag Drop, Speedy Boarding when you sit in rows 2-6 but these cost £13 extra. Easyjet also offers 2 cabin bags, dedicated Bag Drop, Speedy Boarding and extra legroom when you sit in the first row but this costs £17 extra
Both carriers operate similar seats and comfort. I’ve flown both Ryanair and easyJet on medium-range European routes and for me, EasyJet is better. easyJet offers comfy seats with an ok recline, and they offer a seat-back pocket for small items and newspapers. EasyJet does offer snacks and beverages onboard flights.
Ryanair, however, offers a comfy seat; however, there is no seat-back pocket, and the safety card is stuck to the seat in front of you. Ryanair does offer snacks and beverages onboard flights. Ryanair flies the Boeing 737-800 aircraft on routes whereas easyJet flies the A320 family. I can say, personally for me, the A320 in the easyJet cabin is better in all-round comfort. Ryanair’s old cabin is a bit duller and the yellow colour on the seats aren’t the best looking, and it’s a bit dated, But, with Ryanair’s new more comfortable, softer seats and cabin with mood lighting, this could be a game-changer in Ryanair’s overall comfort and cabin experience.
From my experience, both airlines have a tremendous crew. When I flew easyJet the cabin crew were attentive, polite and courteous.
I think, personally, easyJet wins this round. (Due to comfort being based on one’s opinion, this can vary for each person)
Both Ryanair and easyJet operate out of major European hubs. Their hubs are based in major cities with lots of connection. They offer flights all across Europe. Ryanair operates to 200 destinations and easyJet 161 destinations.
Ryanair is the winner in this round.
The final result really depends on what you are after. If you’re looking for a cheap flight, Ryanair wins but if you’re looking for a cheap flight with a comfy experience: easyJet is for you. There are more airlines out there and research is key in what you’re looking for. Both airlines are doing amazing work at connecting friends and family and to me, they’re both great airlines.
COVID-19 and the airlines’ responses.
Without a doubt, both airlines have suffered dramatically in the COVID-19 pandemic. On the 30th of March, 2020, easyJet responded to the crisis by grounding all of its fleet with immediate effect. They also furloughed staff to cut back on prices. easyJet was also a key player in the UK’s effort in repatriation flights. easyJet received a £600 million loan from the UK government. The airline subsequently was forced to close its bases at London Stansted and Southend and Newcastle.
Ryanair also took a significant hit despite it being one of the largest airlines in Europe. Ryanair also announced the loss of pilot and cabin crew positions. The airline cancelled all flights within Ireland, almost bringing Dublin Airport to a standstill.