I learned a lot of what I know about travel during my semester abroad in London. I was a travel novice before I left the U.S. and quickly learned some very hard travel lessons. One of the biggest lessons I've learned--besides not losing my passport... well get to that story one day--is that "saving money" with a budget airline doesn't always save you money in the long run. Here is the story of how I ended up on a first class flight. Come along for the ride!
~ This article reflects my personal experience using RyanAir. It is not meant to slander the airline. This article merely reflects one opinion. ~
It was exactly three years ago this month that my friend Jessa and I started to plan some of our travels before our program abroad officially started. We were to be in London for Sunday, September 19, 2017 for the start of our program, but we wanted to travel beforehand to maximize our time and allow us to have more weekends to enjoy in the city. After toying with the idea of going to Greece, Italy, and France, we quickly realized that this was going to be an expensive week in three different countries. It was Jessa's mom that suggested we spend the week in Lisbon and stay with Jessa's aunt and uncle. Jessa and I both agreed that this would be an amazing trip. We hopped on the phone, booked our flight to London, then scoured the internet for cheap flights from London to Lisbon.
Isn’t Lisbon beautiful?!
After quite some time looking, I stumbled across an article about RyanAir, a budget airline based in Europe. The article boasted about the airline's reliability, decent in-flight customer service, and how affordable their flights are. I decided to check them out myself and searched for a flight from London to Lisbon. I was shocked at how affordable the tickets are! I immediately texted Jessa screenshots of the flights. We decided to book them and were satisfied with how our trip planning was going.
Flash forward to 1:00 AM on September 18, 2017. Jessa and I were laying in bed on our phones. One thing to know about me is that I always check my email when I wake up and before I go to bed. This day was no different. I refreshed my inbox and immediately started to panic when I saw the sender: RYANAIR CANCELLATION SERVICES. I quickly wake a half-sleeping Jessa up with a panicked, "Jessa, RyanAir canceled our flight!" and started combing the internet for a new flight. I started with RyanAir to see if we could use our existing tickets on a new flight. Keep in mind, we had to be in London the next day by a specific time.
The next available RyanAir flight to London left Lisbon the following Wednesday.
At this point, we were starting to think we were going to be stuck in Lisbon for an extended amount of time. Lisbon, if you don't know, does not have net neutrality, which means that internet capabilities are sold in "bundles." Jessa and I had to pay for every second we spent on the internet, which was very little (only to communicate with our families). Since we were five hours ahead, we decided to contact our families back in the U.S. to see if they could help us in terms of looking for flights so that the little internet we had, plus their help, could get us the flight we need at a reasonable price.
It was 5:30 AM our time in Portugal when Jessa's mom was able to find the cheapest flight available that would get us back to London in time for the start of the program. Unfortunately, these flights cost roughly $800 USD. But--you guessed it--they were first class on TAP Air Portugal. When I say this was the most luxurious flying experience I've ever had, I mean it. I will most likely never fly first class ever again due to cost, but WOW; the in-flight service was great and the food was amazing! Jessa and I had an entire row to ourselves, so we were each able to enjoy the window seats with extra, extra space to stretch our legs.
I'm drooling, it's fine.
If you're wondering why RyanAir cancelled our flight, it was to "improve customer service" on their flights (RyanAir Cancellation Services, 2017). While this was obviously an inconvenience at the time, I am personally at a point where I can laugh at the whole situation. Will I personally fly RyanAir again? No. In fact, I read more airline reviews now than I did back then, as I should, to prevent situations like this from happening again.
This post is not to deter anyone from flying RyanAir. Many people have good experiences with them, and it is much more affordable than other airlines. However, had I known that I would've spent over $1,000 USD total on flights within my first week abroad, I would've booked more expensive flights to begin with to save money in the long run. Just because it's "budget" doesn't mean you'll save your money in the long run!
This has been quite the story time. Thanks for coming along for the ride. x
FTC: This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own and are not intended to slander RyanAir. I am merely sharing an experience I had.