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Ryan Air or The Penny Flight that Wasn’t

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Ryan Air, or The Penny Flight that Wasn’t


“I found a penny flight from Porto to Marseilles” Mira exclaimed.

Our bike journey needs to be fast forwarded a little bit. I want to visit my dear friends in the south of France and Ubertramp and the Pogues in England. Mira wants to get back to Latin America as soon as possible (she is tired of following me around the haunts of the old world and wants to get back to having fun . . . Latino style).

I know that I have to back down this time. Mira is getting feisty and her bites are landing a little too close to the heart for comfort. So it is looking like she is going to drag me to Columbia (or Nicaragua or Costa Rica or wherever) with her.

I am suppose to be going back to NYC to finish up the University degree with Global College that I have been working towards off and on for the past eight years, but the costs of living in Brooklyn are far beyond what I have. I just looked at the average price for a cheap apartment, and I simply cannot not afford it. Oh well, I have been well off without a degree for this long, why not carry out this epic journey for another year.

It is a matter of simple mathematics. I do not have $6,000 to live like a pauper in a city that I hate for a mere three months. Six thousand dollars is more money than I make in an entire year. So it is looking like I will not yet be finishing school. I will write more about my Global College woes in a further post. There are many.

So Ryan Air advertises a penny flight from Porto to Marseilles, and Mira and I hurry to scoop up a couple of tickets. But there is a catch to this fabulous seeming penny flight deal- A whole host of unmentioned fees. As follows:

Taxes and fees: $15
Check in fee: $5
Euro Web Baggage fee: $9
Web sports and music fee: $34
Credit card fee: $10
Flight: $.01

Total: $73.01 for a penny flight.

Not a bad price, I must say, but why advertise it as costing only a penny? It doesn’t. I am a traveller of the old school that believes that the process of checking in to a flight should be part of the flight charge itself. To charge someone a price implies that they have a choice to pay for it or not. If I have to pay extra for the special service of checking in, then I prefer not to do it. I don’t want to check in; it is a boring process that only consists of waiting in line to be scrutinized by a stone faced, tightly pony tailed robot. I don’t want to check in, let alone pay $5 for it. A “Euro Web Baggage Fee?” What the hell is this? I don’t know even know what a Euro Web is, let alone one that is checking my bag. Another $9 gone. The web sports fee is for my bicycle, but I do not think that $34 is a fair price to charge for this. Finally, a $10 charge to use my credit card on the Ryan Air website is a final insult. How else could I pay for this ticket? Smush my money through the computer screen? I do not think that this will work.

There you have it: $73.01 for a penny flight. This would have been around $40 if I did not have my bike. I would gladly pay $40 to get from Portugal to France, as this is a good price.

But why advertise it as costing a penny?

-The musings of a grump old traveler.

Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal
November 15, 2007

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Filed under: Air Travel, Europe, France, Portugal, Travel Problems

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3053 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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