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Germanwings was a fairly unknown discount airline to me before I started looking into this. I soon found out that their website is not particularly easy to find information on. But I finally found their terms of use at the bottom of the page…obviously, I’m not that great at finding things.

So let’s see what their policies look like as compared to Ryanair. Like Ryanair, they are a discount airline operating in Europe. Obviously. They had just 7.1 million passengers in 2006, compared with Ryanair’s 50 million. But is smaller worse…or better? Let’s find out.

Luggage policy: They have a free checked luggage allowance of up to 20 kg. They do not specify how many bags you can take; it sounds like you can take as many as you want as long as they weigh together under 20 kg. You also get a free carry-on allowance as long as it’s under 8 kg and 55*40*20 cm. Anything over this is excess baggage and goes for a fee, but they’re not saying how much this fee might be.

Check In: They don’t mention a check-in fee like Ryanair does, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. They only ask that you check in by thirty minutes before departure. Late arrivals may not get checked in. If that happens, you’re not eligible for a refund or voucher, because it was your own fault.

They do offer refunds and/or vouchers for the following circumstances: if you’ve already purchased your tickets and they change the time drastically, it doesn’t work out for you, then they will offer a full refund. If your flight is canceled or delayed by more than two hours, then you may be entitled to compensation.

Fees: So far Germanwings has seemed surprisingly fee-free compared to Ryanair. Let’s look at what they say under fees and total costs sections in their policies: there doesn’t appear to be any charges a standard traveler should worry about. There is a “reimbursement handling fee per booking in accordance with Article 10.3” of 5 euros or eight US dollars. If that’s the only fee, we’re lookin’ good.

So what does the flight from Dublin to London cost? Unfortunately, although both cities are in their list of hubs, you can’t get a flight from one to the other. Their flight from Dublin to Munich in June costs 69 euros for one adult, plus 40 euros in taxes, bringing the grand total to 109 euros.

Conclusion: Germanwings seems to be more flexible and more like a traditional airline than Ryanair. It’s more expensive, too, although still cheaper than most standard airlines. I don’t know a lot about this airline, but it does seem like a pretty good one. It does have more limited hubs than Ryanair and is not as old. They flew their first plane on October 27, 2002. Overall, they seem like a small, traditional-type economy carrier. For the traveler truly on a budget, I would recommend Ryanair or a Eurail pass.

Next up: easyJet.

Cheers,

Senoritaburrito

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There are a ton of discount airlines in Europe, but they are not all created equal. In this series of articles on discount airlines offering flights in Europe, I give you links to their homepage and a brief summary of their features: luggage, check-in, and cancellation policies…and what’s not so great about them.  And if you’ve used one of these airlines, let me know what your firsthand experience was like!

First, we have Ryanair. It is Europe’s largest discount airline.  They serve over 50 million customers a year and add new bases almost monthly.

Luggage terms: You don’t get a free luggage allowance.  You can carry up to three checked bags not exceeding 15 kgs total, but you have to pay £12.00/€18.00 each.  If you go over your weight limit they have other hefty fees in place.  Babies don’t get checked bags, and sports and musical equipment is discouraged.  Mobility equipment is free of charge.  You can carry one piece of carry-on luggage, not exceeding 10 kg and dimensions of 55cm*40cm*20cm.

Check-In:  You have to pay to check in at the airport, a fee of a few euros.  Sometimes you can check in online, but there’s a long list of restrictions for people who can’t, including people with mobility equipment, checked luggage, a person who’s traveling with one of these people, and passengers traveling from Italy to the U.K. (?)

Boarding closes ten minutes prior to departure, and don’t be late.  They won’t wait for you even if you”re only thirty seconds late.  They make you purchase a new ticket for a later flight.  If flights are canceled for reasons outside of their control, you won’t receive any monetary compensation.  However, if they cancel or reschedule your flight and you’re unable to work with that, they will compensate you.

Conclusion: Strict policies, but cheap prices and decent hubs.  But also remember that many discount airlines fly out of airports that are miles from the cities they claim to be in, so factor bus/cab expenses into your ticket prices as well.  Tickets can be dirt cheap, (I searched a flight from Dublin to London and it said fare was 0…?) but there are taxes, check-in fees, luggage fees, and transportation to and from the airport.  Every situation will be different, so just know what you’re getting into when you book.  Even with all these extra fees, though, these flights look super cheap.  How can a flight be free?  They only charge for tax.  It’s ridiculous!

Tomorrow: Germanwings.

Cheers,

Senoritaburrito

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