Battle of the cheap airlines, which one is best?

ryanair vs easyjet

So you’ve decided to book a flight on a budget airline, you’ve gone for no frills, and so you aren’t expecting anything fancy. You may think that is the end of the decision, but you would be wrong. Here is a round up of all the differences between the two leading UK budget airlines EasyJet and Ryanair, who will come out on top?

UK Airports

Ryanair has 19 UK base airports whereas EasyJet has 20. This is a big clincher in the budget airline stakes. There is no point going budget if you have to travel further, and probably pay more, to get to your flight. The first round goes to EasyJet.

Destinations Offered

Just because you’re travelling cheaply doesn’t mean you don’t have your sights set on far-flung destinations. No-one ever said you could have too much choice when it comes to holidays. So who offers the most destinations RyanAir or EasyJet? Ryanair runs away with this one, the Irish airline boasts 1,800 daily routes serving 34 countries whereas EasyJet offer just 804 routes serving 31 countries.

destinations offered cheap airlines

Both airlines also offer interactive route planners. Ryanair’s map shows you the cheapest prices and links you to their fare finder section so you can compare other dates on these routes. Whereas, EasyJet’s route map is very similar but has one big difference, it doesn’t show prices or dates. Obviously you can find out this information but only after you have entered all the usual information. So for actually creating a useful tool Ryanair wins again.

Flight Prices

This is a difficult comparison to make so I have taken a common route that both airlines fly and checked the price of a last minute booking and, an advanced booking to see what the difference is. The route chosen is Edinburgh to London Stansted on a Monday morning at 7am. This is a great flight to compare because both airlines offer the exact same departure time.

Ryanair’s last minute fare comes in at a costly £145.99 but its advanced price is just £20.99. EasyJet’s fare for late bookers is £117.49 and its advanced fare is £40.49.

In this instance EasyJet is the best for last minute bookers, saving you nearly £30. But, if you are a forward planner, then Ryanair has it with a fare half the price of its rival.

An easy way to check for yourself before booking is to go onto Skyscanner and compare prices. If you are not fussy with dates then you can even select a whole month, and see which is the cheapest day to fly.

Check in

With both EasyJet and Ryanair there is the option for passengers to check in online or via an app before arriving at the airport. This is actively encouraged by both airlines. You can still check in at baggage drop but this is only if you are putting luggage in the hold and, they prefer you to already have your boarding passes printed and ready to go.

It’s time not savings that we can use to gauge the best airline in this instance. By time we mean how long you get to check in before your flight. Both airlines let passengers check in up to 2 hours before departure but, Ryanair only offer those who haven’t booked an allocated seat 4 days before their flight to check in. This is a big issue if you are going away for more then 4 days as you will need to check in for your return flight whilst on holiday.

EasyJet however offer 30 days to check in to all passengers, which for the organised minds makes Easyjet the clear winner.

Travelling with Baggage

airline baggage allowance

Ryanair is notorious for charging high fees for excess baggage. Arguably as long as you follow the rules you will be fine. And the Ryanair rules are far more generous then EasyJet’s:

• Ryanair allows for a 10kg cabin bag measuring 55cm x 20cm x 40cm.

EasyJet has no weight restrictions on cabin baggage but the dimensions can only be a maximum of 56cm x 45cm x 25cm.

Ryanair also lets its passengers bring an additional handbag or backpack measuring 35cm x 20 cm x 20 cm which, is so helpful if you are going away for longer then one or two nights. EasyJet allow its passengers to bring an additional item e.g. an umbrella, overcoat, crutches or a walking stick - arguably not as generous.

• Both allow for one bag of duty-free per passenger.

• Both airlines offer passengers the chance to check their cabin bags for free at the gate due to restrictions on cabin baggage. However, if you are one of the last to board you no longer have a choice and simply have to check it.

This is a hard one to call. Both win on different points but being able to have your handbag separate from your cabin bag especially if you are running late to board is a total blessing. No need to scrabble around looking for your passport and magazine. So Ryanair has it.

Final Verdict

As much as people may complain about it, Ryanair is the winner of the battle of the budget airlines. It offers the most destinations, the most hand luggage and the cheapest prices. The only decision you have left to make is where to go next.