Welcome to the first blog post in my new series on Lea Bella Blogs; Flying With.
In this series of blog posts I plan to share with you my experiences of what to expect when flying with different airlines all over the world. I will also be accepting guest posts for this series, so, if you have an airline that you particularly loved (or hated!) please do not hesitate to share your story with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flying With: Ryanair
I am here to spill all the beans, good and bad, about what it's really like to fly Ryanair.
Ryanair are an Irish low-cost airline who were founded in 1984 (that's older than I thought!) and it's primary hubs are based in Dublin, Ireland and London Stanstead, UK. They have currently 225 destinations, and growing, making Ryanair a firm option for cheap getaways for many passengers across the UK and Europe.
Low-cost travel is certainly my cuppa-tea, as I'm sure it is for many of my readers, so I use Ryanair from Stanstead regularly. Just this year alone I have flown four flights with them, and I'm here to tell you what you can expect from their check-in process to boarding, the cabin crew and on-board service, and finally landing and disembarking.
**DISCLAIMER** All opinions are my own and I am in no way affiliated or associated with Ryanair in any other way other than being a passenger.
Checking In: Before Arrival At The Airport
Ryanair's slogan is 'Low Fares Made Simple', which implies two things:
1) Low Cost
2) A simple process and easy experience by using Ryanair.
Let's put that to the test.
Checking in online is easy with Ryanair. The simplest way to book a flight with them is via their app. Once you have paid for your flight then the app will save your flight on the home screen like below:
Online check-in usually opens anywhere from 30 days before your flight is due to depart. You can still check in up to 4 hours before departure too, however, it is important to know that if you have not paid extra to book your seats you cannot check in until 4 days before. I think this is quite generous as with other, more major airlines, you cannot check in until 24 hours before! More on this in another blog post...
Once you have checked in, you will be sent to a screen to save your boarding passes to wallet (if using an apple iPhone) or to be emailed them. I use an iPhone so I store all my boarding passes into the wallet app and so they are easily accessible once getting to the airport. You can always ask the Ryanair staff at the check-in desk at the airport to print off hard copies for you should you wish (be warned - they may charge you for this, some do and some don't!).
If you have paid extra for hold luggage to be checked in, from my own experience, the staff at London Stanstead Ryanair check-in desks are super quick and helpful, even if a little miserable. This is a good thing as no-one likes a great big long que in the airport!
Boarding the Flight
If you have flown with any airline in the past, then you may already know that as soon as boarding is called at your gate, everyone rushes to the front of the que like there's no tomorrow.
With Ryanair, there are two ques. Priority and Non-Priority. I don't think either of these ques make the slightest bit of difference to be honest. Priority passengers are those who have paid for their hand luggage up to 10KG, for example a small suitcase. I believe the exact measurements are 55cm x 40cm x 20cm. You can carry on one small bag for free (which would make you a non-priority passenger) and the measurements are 40cmx 20cm x 25cm. Although I've never seen anyone check, but y'know - those are the rules.
Ryanair have a running trend (I've noticed) of calling people to the gate to stand around for ages. The staff do call the priority passengers on first. The only one time I've felt the benefit of this was on my return flight from Naples, where I was actually seated on the flight a good 30 minutes before the other passengers joined. At least I got my bag in the overhead locker... But other than that I've never really noticed the difference between priority and non-priority boarding. Most people who are city hopping around Europe for quick short breaks usually only take hand luggage with them so, everyone ends up being a priority passenger anyway.
When you make it through the gate and make your way to the airplane, I've noticed that you might need to catch a bus, or, walk along outside regardless of the weather. Ryanair do not have any fancy tunnels to walk down to the plane on, oh no. It's good old fashioned steel stairs which, if the wind is blowing hard enough will make you feel like you are going to blow over the higher you get, or slip and fall right the way down if it happens to be raining. So be vigilant.
This is one way that Ryanair keep their costs down. They do not hire any 'unnecessary' equipment from companies such as Swissport to assist with their flights, and a lot of it is done in-house by Ryanair employees rather than subbing it out to other aviation groups. In the grand scheme of things, this is a little thing that is neither here nor there, but clearly makes a difference to Ryanair when keeping down costs to allow people like me to travel the world for cheap. So be my guest Ryanair.
On-Board a RyanAir Flight
There is no denying that Ryanair has a reputation for being basic. But, its not all as bad as you may think. Some of you who know me, or have been following my blog and vlogs for a while will know that my husband is a very tall man, I mean 6ft10 tall. Usually we must pay for extra leg room seats on a flight because otherwise he would really truly struggle. However, on one flight we did with Ryanair, extra legroom was unavailable and he was sat in a window seat. In all honesty he wasn't completely comfortable, but there was more room for him that what he had experienced on other airlines! Which is really surprising, you wouldn't expect a decent amount of leg room on these such flights. Well done Ryanair.
The seats themselves are average, but definitely not really bad. Yes they are thin, they don't recline (no one wants a seat reclined in front of you on a flight anyway!) there is no pocket in the seat in front for your books or bottles of water, but it is OK for the usually short amount of time you are on the flight for and for the low money you usually will have paid. We cant have everything! There is definitely no entertainment system - take your iPad, tablet or a book.
The colour scheme of a Ryanair flight is to be desired. The bright yellow overhead lockers are a shock to the system when your eyes haven't yet adjusted from the darkness outside on an early/late flight. The seats are a blue leather. If you're lucky, you'll be on of the newer planes and the seats are pretty tidy. On the older planes you can expect cracked leather and the odd piece of foam hanging out somewhere around the headrest.
There is an on-board service including drinks and snacks. This is all to be paid for whilst on-board and is not included in the price of your flight ticket. Meal options vary but can include hot drinks and snacks, breakfast options and more. it is tradition for us to get a cuppa tea and a twix. Ha-ha.
Ryanair Staff: The Good, The Bad And The MiseraBle
I have experienced Ryanair staff in 3 countries over several different trips. Let’s start with the check-in staff, otherwise known as the ground staff:
> Miserable and non-engaging, yet quick and efficient. I suppose not everyone wants to chat at 6am. They get the job done but are reluctant to interact with you. This can be said for Naples, Stanstead and Valencia staff.
> There seems to be a requirement for all Ryanair staff to be miserable. The cabin crew that I have experienced are far away from the ‘trolley dolly’ stereotype that you half expect. They all usually look tired and as if they are going to flip their s**t at any given moment. BUT (and I suppose the most important part) is they are extremely efficient when something goes wrong. On one flight a woman took ill behind me and the cabin crew dealt with her fantastically and really quickly without any other fuss. I was really impressed by this.
Captains and First Officers:
> OK, so they are flying the planes. No one really sees them until after the flight has landed and they might come out and let you thank them. I’ve met two pilots that have (thankfully) landed us safely BUT they are really scruffy. And young too! Usually a pilot is dressed very smart, trousers and shirt, stripes on show. Not Ryanair pilots. Imagine the old school uniforms.... now add a scarf. Yep.
Overall the staff are clearly trained well and do their job, I think if a few of them added a ‘how are you?’ And a smile, it might just help lift the reputation they are gaining for looking miserable.
landing and Disembarking
In all honesty, every Ryanair Lansing I have experienced has been well controlled and smooth.... right until the last minute when you bounce down the runway. In fairness, I’ve landed in a storm once, high winds, rain and that can’t be easy to land a plane in so a bit of a bounce is acceptable. At least we landed safe!
Disembarking is simple and straight forward, usually the flights are turnaround flights so the quicker they get you off and the new passengers on the better for everyone. This is something they are good at, no ques here!
Would I RecommeNd Flying With Ryanair?
Regardless of Ryanair being voted the worst airline in the UK for the last six years by Watch?, I would not necessarily totally agree with that title. I have flown with airlines who have far, far worse attributes than what Ryanair have.
For the price you pay to fly Ryanair, you shouldnt really expect the Ritz, and you will get a ‘no-frills’ service. But as long as it continues to fly its passengers safely all around Europe at bargain prices, who are we to really grumble? I’m certainly not.
I am due to fly Ryanair again in the very near future to Frankfurt, and I can’t say that I’m dreading it. If cheap and easy travel is what you are looking for to make your way around this world of ours, then Ryanair have got you covered.
ADAARAN Exclusive Water Villas - Maldives
Today’s post is a guest post written by the lovely Helen from www.hked.me where she creates a wide range of content from travel and lifestyle from the modern woman. You can find her on twitter @hkedtweet Instagram: @hkedgram go and follow her for more amazing content on Hooked!
Today's post is a guest post written by Georgia from What's in my Wonderland . Georgia is an avid bookworm, and blogs about her recommended reads and more over on her website.
This post is written from my own experience and perspective and I am in no way affiliated with P&O minicruises or P&O Ferries. All views and opinions are my own.
The P&O Mini-Cruise to Amsterdam On Board The Pride Of Hull Ferry
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24 Hours In Naples: Itinerary
Naples, Italy (or Napoli for the culture vultures amongst us) was not one of the cities that was initially on my places to visit in 2019. However, after downloading the Lucky Trip App (not an #ad!) Naples came up as one of the lower cost, trips to take in January. Being the wanderer that I am, I thought 'why not?' and booked it.
As the time grew nearer, I started to doubt whether or not this trip would be rushed - we were going to be flying in from the UK for only one night. I double checked the flight times - by the time we landed on the Saturday and were to take off again on the Sunday, we literally had 24.5 hours in Naples in total. My question was: 'Can I enjoy this short amount of time in Naples?' - the answer is whole-heartedly yes.
Here is how I did 24 Hours in Naples:
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7 TRavel essentials that will make travelling easy
If you’re anything like me (a last-minute superstar) you’ll get to the night before your travels begin and have a bit of a flap on, worrying about what to pack and what you need for your trip away. Have no fear - I have put together 7 Travel Essentials that you will most definitely need. Here we go...
1) Your Passport
If you forget this, you can forget going to another country. I keep mine in a different ‘safe place’ each time... and I can never remember where. To make my life easier I put my passport in a cute and eye catchingly bright passport wallet as to not miss it in the cupboards! Here’s the one I’ve got below, but there’s loads of different ones on amazon for a decent price that will jazz up the boring passport look and help you find it in the black hole of Calcutta that may be one of your cupboards or drawers.
2) Travel Documents
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An Enjoyable Day on the Sea
There is a back story to how we ended up on Robinson's Catamaran on a random Wednesday during our holiday to Alcudia... But I will create a separate post on this as it's a long (and quite funny!) anecdote.
The Maldives... Paradise on Earth
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Holiday Dates: 9th October - 19th October 2018
Adaaran Select Meedhupparu Beach Villas - rated at 4*+
Stepping off the seaplane and getting my feet on the ground after what felt like an eternity of being in the air felt like I had just won the jackpot. No-one could have prepared me for the turquoise blue waters, the bright white sand, but most importantly the friendliest of welcomes I have ever received when arriving at a resort for the first time.
Golf buggies collected us from the jetty on the South of the island and whisked us away to the main bar where we were greeted with a refreshing pineapple drink and a cool cloth to wipe away the last three flights. The 30 degree sun was beaming down on my face as I thought 'people are right....this is paradise!'. I had not even seen the half of what this Island had to offer yet...
I should probably mention here that I had not seen our luggage yet since stepping onto the seaplane (you can read my seaplane experiences here) and at this point I didn't care. We were given the all important safety briefing, a map of the island and was told that we could go and get some lunch on the all-inclusive while we waited for our room to be ready. So that is what we did!
The Accomodation - Beach Villa 4*+
We had booked a beach villa initially, with a view of upgrading to the water villas over the next few days - read my tips on how to save money on your upgrades here. We were chauffeured once again by a friendly Sri Lankan guy who showed us our room. The first thing I noticed about the room was the amazing view... believe me when I say that it is absolutely breath taking. Our patio doors opened out onto a wooden terrace with our own sunbeds and a seating area, and then the beach and the ocean, like right in front!! It's really hard for me to explain exactly what seeing this for the first time is like, but I will never ever forget how I felt. I don't actually think I've ever felt as excited, overwhelmed and knackered all at the same time! HA.
Once I had gotten over staring at the beautiful clear blue ocean, I checked out the rest of the Villa. OK, so my first impressions were 'WOW... this is loads bigger than I expected!'. The main room has a large bed, bigger than our King Size bed at home for sure, a TV, fridge, tea and coffee making facilities and then the bathroom. The bathroom was half outside and half inside! WHAT! There are his and hers sinks, a loo (obviously), and then the spectacle, the outdoor shower. Amazing - and boy did it get used! There is an indoor shower too, which I only used on the first night and the rest of the time we were in the beach villa we totally utilised the outdoor shower. Why not - you're in the Maldives after all!
Exploring the Island
Once our luggage had been delivered to our room, which was only around 10 minutes after we had been delivered to the room, we immediately got changed into our beach wear and went for an explore. Being the avid researcher that I am, I had read that the whole island was approximately 3KM in diameter, and it should take around an hour to walk the circumference. In our experience, it would only take an hour to walk around the island if you stopped at every bar you passed along the way (there are 5 in total). We walked it in around twenty minutes. Everywhere you look, you are greeted with amazing views. Whether you are looking inland at the beach villas and the beaches, or if you are looking out into the Indian Ocean, which stretches for miles. It is when you take a minute to breathe and take in the blue views when you realise you are actually on an island in the middle of nowhere. The good thing about Adaaran Meedhupparu Island is that there are actually three other islands that you can see - but you couldn't swim to them! But they are there in the distance, just to comfort you and remind you that your not completely isolated from the world.
'I think I would get bored in the Maldives' was one comment that I received from many people before visiting. How far from the truth can you be! Don't get me wrong, the Maldives is famous for being a honeymoon destination and a luxurious relaxing style holiday for the obvious reasons. But there is also, surprisingly lots to do! There are many excursions that you can do - we opted for the Dolphin Safari which was hands down one of the most amazing excursions I have ever done. You are picked up from the island in a Dhoni, (a traditional Maldivian fishing boat) and taken out in to the Indian Ocean for a spectacular show of Dolphins in their natural habitat. What's more amazing than seeing wild dolphins in the Maldives? There are other excursions that are all advertised in the Main Reception and they all come at a cost, and they are quite a cost too - but totally worth it.
At Meedhupparu, there are five bars in total to relax and chill out in. One bar, Café Mass, is the only 24 hour bar and was right near our villa (room 223 for anyone who is interested) and this serves all your all-inclusive drinks, tea, coffee and the premium drinks for those who are on half board or Bed & Breakfast options.
The Main Pool Area
The infinity pool is perfect for photo opportunities at Meedhupparu. The pool faces the beach and the ocean and makes a perfect back drop for those romantic pictures, and for just sitting and collecting your thoughts whilst the sun is beating down on your back. The pool bar here serves all drinks in plastic glasses so you can take your drink wherever you want to in the swimming pool and sip on a Pina Colada whilst relaxing in the water. The sunbeds here all have mattresses and the pool boy gives you a towel and then replaces if for you after lunch.
The main bar / lounge area is also located next to the swimming pool. This serves all your drinks, daytime snacks and tea/ coffee and fruit juices. The main stage area is here but you won't find an animation team bouncing around here!! Not even in the evenings. The vibe to this island is ultimate chill.
The main reception is also located close by and there is a child's play park too.
The All-Inclusive Food
Adaaran Select Meedhupparu Round-Up
This was our first time in the Maldives, and realising I have no other island to compare this too, I had the best honeymoon holiday of my life. So much so that we have booked to go back next October! See my travel plans for 2019 here. I would highly recommend the beach villas for first timers to the Maldives and if it’s affordable luxury you’re looking for you won’t be disappointed here. I should also mention here that the staff are brilliant, all of them. From the gardeners to the management, everyone says ‘hello’ to you and those who speak better English really try with you and ask if you are well etc. When visiting any country, I always ask the staff about their lives. Some stories they will tell you will really open up your eyes.
I hope this post has given you more of an insight into what to expect when going on holiday to this particular island.
Leave me a comment below if there is anything else that I have not mentioned that you would like to know.
You can follow me on Instagram @leabellablogs or on YouTube linked below.
Thanks for reading!
-Lea Bella x
2019 - Places I will travel to...
Just a really quick post to fill you in on my travel plans for 2019 so you know what blog posts to expect over the next few months... *UPDATED FEBRUARY 2019*
Italy - 24 Hours in Naples, January
We are going to be staying in a 5* B&B for the night right on the sea front in Naples.
Amsterdam - P&O Ferries, February 2019
Taking the P&O Ferry from Hull, UK to Rotterdam, Holland for a day trip to Amsterdam
Spain - 4 nights in Valencia, February
I have never been to mainland Spain before (I know- right?!) so I'm excited to see what Valencia has to offer
Tenerife- Sandos San Blas, March
For my husbands birthday. 5* All inclusive bliss.
Frankfurt, Germany - March
Another 24 Hours In... trip. Keep an eye out for the vlog on my YouTube channel!
Spain - 3 nights in Marbella, April
Hen Do Time -Party!
Mexico - 7 nights in Akumal Bay, May
Another luxury hotel right in the heart of Akumal Bay, Riviera Maya.
Maldives - 9 nights in Meedhupparu Island , October
Back to paradise... Cant wait!
There are a few months missing, as you can see - this is only because we have nothing booked at the moment!
As always with each blog post there will be a video posted on my YouTube channel, you can check this out below.
I hope you will come along with me so I can share my travel experiences with you.
Thank you for reading
-Lea Bella x
...and how to keep your costs down.
Heres a little disclaimer before I start on this post...
1) In no way, shape or form am I implying that these holidays are affordable for everyone. You’re affordability is no one else’s business but your own.
2) These prices are 2018 prices and are subject to change due to supply and demand.
3) This post is based on my own experiences and is in no way influenced by any third party.
OK now that’s over... let’s go! ✈️
When you think of a luxury holiday destination, instantly you may think ££££. Sometimes this is true, and, in a lot of cases you get what you pay for. BUT. There are ways of getting to your dream destinations for a more affordable budget. Let me explain how in this short ‘How To’ blog post.
A Journey Like No Other
For those readers who have been lucky enough to visit the Maldives Islands, you will know exactly what I’m talking about in this post.
For those of you who have not visited (yet?) then here is a little glimpse of what to expect upon arrival in to Valena International Airport, and the onward travel by seaplane to your island.
TMA Seaplane (twin otter) October 2018
How Do I Find My Seaplane?
On arrival, once through security you need to head for the desk which has your islands name. Here, a representative from the island will have your name on a list and will tag up your luggage. Luckily the Maldivians are so friendly and he will walk you round to the check in desk for TMA.
Once you are here, your cases and hand luggage will all be weighed and that’s the last you will see of it until you get to your villa / hotel! This has never happened to me before where my luggage is taken off me at an early stage so I was praying that it was going to make it to the island. There are, what seems like, a million different islands in the Maldives all with their own seaplanes so I was hoping it would end up on our seaplane with us and not coming afterwards.
You will then be taken to a small bus, and once the bus has enough passengers it will drive you a short 10 mins to where all the arrival lounges are. This is where you realise that you are about to be treated like a VIP.
The Arrival Lounge
We booked to stay in Adaaran accommodation on Meedhupparu island. Adaaran have their own arrivals lounge and here you will be greeted by a friendly lady who checks your passports and will tell you how long to wait before your seaplane is ready. We were lucky as we only had an hours wait. But you can be waiting up to 4 hours, depending on how busy the incoming flights are that day. So be warned! But the Adaaran lounge has free tea, coffee, fruit juice, pastries and lots of other snacks. There is also a bathroom with showers and toilets which we didn’t use, but is nice if you want to freshen up after your long journey. Here we hydrated ourselves and was getting really REALLY excited about finally being in our dream destination after so long. Make the most
of this lounge as I believe that not all islands have a dedicated lounge. So if your island does - take advantage.
Once your seaplane is ready, someone will come and get you and walk you round to the departures lounge. The views from here are insane!
TMA seaplane - this was the one we took to our island
so once you are on the plane (beware - it’s a close fit!) brace yourself for possibly some of the best Ariel views you will ever experience in my opinion! Once the pilot has given a very brief safety talk - if you could call it that - then you will be taxi’ing along the turquoise water ready to finally make the last leg of your long journey. If you have never been on a small plane before, let alone a seaplane, it is very loud!! Try and sit next to the window if you can because what you are about to see I goes something like this...
I think you will agree that this is quite the view!
Also, a little side note - the pilots do not wear shoes...
Landing at the island was smooth and steady, we were lucky that we flew on a really calm day and did not experience one bit of turbulence. It was an absolute privilege and pleasure flying with TMA, and the experience is not something I will ever forget.
Aaaannndddd you get to do it all again on your way back to Male - bonus!
I hope you enjoyed this blog post, please see my Top 5 Tips to Surviving your Long Trip to the Maldives post for all things to get you through your long haul flight.
For a visual on how our flight was with TMA, check out my short video on YouTube below.
- Lea Bella x
Vikki Lea is 28 Years Old and lives in the Midlands with her husband and two dogs. She enjoys blogging and sharing her experiences and opinions with her audience.