Lately RyanAir has been having some amazing sales. If you’re an European traveler and you’re not familiar with RyanAir (and its ilk), you should be. RyanAir is the granddaddy of low-cost airlines which today seem to be springing up everywhere in its wake (to the joy of budget travelers across the continent). This concept of low-cost flying has even spread to the States, where attempts by the big airlines to have a budget wing have been less successful (Ted and JetBlue, for instance). I believe this has less to do with the desire of Americans to fly cheaply and more to do with the relative centralization of airports in the U.S. and thus a higher level of competition for desirable locations and gates. Europe simply continued to maintain a smaller, second cadre of (mostly former military) airports which can now be exploited by these budget fliers.
While Less Than a Shoestring supports ecologically friendly travel and takes rail when affordable, it is not uncommon to find fares flying from Hamburg to Dublin for less money than it takes to get from Hamburg to Berlin by bus or rail. And while it is recognized that the incentives (via taxes or what have you) are obviously currently skewed, it is also recognized that public forms of transport like rail are often far overpriced, especially on longer-haul trips. Low-cost airlines have put pressure on companies like Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) to introduce 29 euro pricing on longer domestic routes. Furthermore, these low-cost airlines have forever changed the way Europeans travel, as they have made cross-continent flights accessible and affordable for even a weekend trip. And it has put numerous second-tier locations (Brno! Poznan!) back on the map. There is certainly an economic/sociological/anthropological study in there somewhere.
Now back to RyanAir. Though not as good as an earlier offer where they ate all taxes and fees, allowing me to score round-trip tickets from Brussels to Milan (Bergamo), and Berlin to both London (Stansted) and Stockholm (Skavsta) for just ONE CENT per leg (that is right, three trips for a total of 6 cents), they are currently running and keep extending the Fly For €/£10 fare. If you change the country setting at the top right of the screen and then click on the flashing offer, you can find the routes featured from each location. If you’re more patient, you can simply try entering itineraries into the left-hand menu and see if the offered fares come up for the dates you prefer. This sale runs only through Thursday (9 August), is valid on flights from 5 November through 7 February on Monday-Thursday and Saturday flights, subject to availability. This naturally excludes all holidays and school breaks.
RyanAir is always having short sales, making it good practice to sign up for their email notification if you’re not planning to constantly hang around the website.
Tomorrow I’ll outline some useful tools for those interested in exploiting this low-cost air phenomenon.