On Sept 1st, we left from Edinburgh for Hamburg by a Ryanair flight. Our flight was at 7.20 am, so Sriman dropped us off at the airport two hours earlier. While in the car, he told us that we had to drop off our bags first and then go to the departure gate. He repeated it a couple of times but we still didn’t get it at that time. Some things you learn only with experience!!
We said goodbye to Sriman and walked inside. There was a huge crowd of passengers which was the first surprise. We then looked around to see where the departure gates were and saw that they were on the first floor, so we immediately went upstairs. Our first learning came right away – the printed ticket’s barcode had to be scanned horizontally for it to be accepted by the turnstile. While I went through after a couple of tries, Krishnan’s ticket didn’t work at all and not just Krishnan, there were several others struggling with their printouts. The second learning came almost instantly as the lady at the turnstile looked at my ticket and asked us to drop off our bags downstairs. 🙂
We immediately dragged the bags down and looked around for the bag drop counters … there were two lines and I went and stood in the smaller line first, but something made me look at the longer line and I realised that was the bag drop line for Ryanair. The tiny signboard that said “Ryanair bag drop” was at waist level and so we missed it completely. We went and stood in the queue and soon came to the self-service bag drop kiosk. A customer service rep was available to help as that kiosk also couldn’t read the barcode. Finally we managed to check-in both the bags, one each on our tickets and then went to put them on the conveyor belt. As we left the bag drop queue we found another customer service rep who said we could now go to the departure gate. Off we went again and the same rep was there at the turnstile and she remembered us. She sent us back down again as we had to get our tickets “Visa Checked” downstairs. Once again we almost ran downstairs and stood in the “visa check” queue that was the shorter queue which I mistakenly stood in earlier.
Our Schengen visas got checked and we were good to go. We went back upstairs and saw that there was a LOOOOONNNNGGGG queue for security check. I saw the “fast track” check-in counter and went and paid 7 Euros for each of us to get priority check-in. We were done with the security check in about 5 minutes and went to our gate with some time to spare before our flight. Phew !! As we were going upstairs and downstairs, we realised that we had lots of company – many people were doing the same thing. It was obvious that the “process” had to be tweaked to make it customer friendly. Once we sat inside the plane, Krishnan flipped the ticket printout and saw that Ryanair had printed the process clearly at the back with estimated time for each step … but the seasoned travellers that we are, we had to learn from experience and not from reading it on a ticket. Hahahaha … am laughing now, but those 45 minutes were tension filled.
Till Ryanair changes their processes here’s the SOP for anyone flying with Ryanair out of the Edinburgh airport –
- When you buy a Ryanair ticket, buy priority which lets you take a 20 kg checked-in bag and a 10 kg cabin luggage besides a small purse/bag.
- Print your boarding pass at home. Many people hadn’t done that and they were even more stressed out than us as the self service kiosks had a queue.
- Reach the airport atleast 2 hours before your flight time.
- As soon as you enter the airport’s departure terminal, look to your left and you will see several queues. Calmly look at your waist level for a signboard that says “Ryanair bag drop”.
- Stand in that queue, however long it is.
- At the bag drop self service kiosk, ask for help if you can’t get the machine to read your barcode … even the customer service rep struggled a bit with the printout so keep your ego out and take help. 🙂
- If you are travelling with someone then remember to switch the boarding pass as you print the next baggage tag for the second checked-in bag.
- You then have to take your bags to the conveyor belt in the front and put them on the belt.
- Check your boarding pass and if it says “visa check”, stand in the adjacent queue, right next to the bag drop queue. Open the page that has the visa for the country you are going to on your passport and keep it ready for inspection. The rep at this counter will stamp your boarding pass.
- Now go to the departure gates on the first floor.
- If you see a really long queue for the security check just pay 7 euros and get into the priority/fast track check-in lane. Its a tiny price to pay for no stress !
- Breeze through security if you aren’t carrying anything you shouldn’t be and find your gate before doing anything else.
Incase you need to exchange currency – as soon as you enter the departure gate area you will find an “exchange” counter where you can exchange the pounds to any currency that you need.
One passenger missed a Ryanair flight by a few minutes and he was heartbroken… many people reached just at the nick of time for our flight too. I sincerely hope Ryanair makes some simple changes to their check-in process with bigger, better positioned signages for a start. They will save many people a lot of stress :):).