Archive for March 6th, 2006

  • Stockholm/Ghent: Ryanair versus SAS

    I had my third flight with Ryanair yesterday. To be honest, I don’t like to fly with them. My favourite airliner for Scandinavia is SAS (I have a Eurobonus card, which is their Frequent Flyer Programme).

    Why am I flying Ryanair? Not the cheap tickets are their pro, they just happen to have more seats available than SAS. If you have bad luck, a SAS ticket can be overprized. If you check Ryanair at that moment and you find a ticket for € 60, there is just no other solution than flying Ryanair.

    This is the trip Stockholm – Ghent with Ryanair:

    • 14u15: departure Stockholm
    • 14u25: subway towards T-Centralen (€ 1,5)
    • 14u50: Bus to Skavsta (Stockholm “South” if you want) (€ 13)
    • 16u15: Check-in (€ 60 Ryanair ticket)
    • 18u00: Departure
    • 19u35: Arrival Brussels South Charleroi Airport
    • 20u50: Departure bus to Brussels Midi Railway Station (€ 10,5)
    • 21u30: Arrival Railway Station
    • 22u10: Departure by train to Ghent (€ 6,8)
    • 22u50: Taxi home (€ 9)
    • 23u00: Arrival home

    Total cost: € 100,8 – Total travel time: 11 (Update) 9 hours

    If you fly SAS, a ticket costs at least € 65 (most of the time you will have to spend € 95). The cost of the trip should have been €1,5 subway, €65 (-€95) SAS ticket, € 20 Arlanda Express (express train), € 6,8 train ticket to Ghent and € 9 Taxi.

    Total cost: € 100 – € 150 – Total travel time: 6 hours

    Which one to fly?

    Price: Ryanair is always cheaper than SAS. I Paid € 60 one way, but most of the time they sell for less than € 50.

    User Experience:

    Ryanair: Look at my time schedule again. This is how the experience feels:

    We need to leave at 14u, the last bus to the airport goes at 15u. This bus trip is not pleasant because you sit on the bus for at least one hour and you arrive 2 hours before departure. The airport is always crowded and it is hard to find a seat. Flying with Ryanair also makes me nervous. Just some little things: only 15 kg of luggage, free seats and really basic seating in the aircraft. The boarding cards got an upgrade recently (electronic now, but they were handwritten before). On the card, you can find a number (number 1 is the first passenger who checked in). When boarding starts, they shout “1 to 65 please”, but nobody is listening and just trying to get on board asap.

    Once arrived in Charleroi, we decided to take the “recommended” bus to the Railway Station. It was cold outside yesterday and we didn’t get into the bus, who was warming up, for another 35 minutes. Those are just little things, but they make a day comfortable or not. The bus was overcrowded and some people had to sit on the floor.

    SAS: When I fly SAS, I take the subway 2 hours before departure. The Arlanda Express is expensive, but brings you in 20 minutes to the Arlanda Airport. You jump out of the train, use the automatic electronic check-in system and you can walk to your gate. The airport is spacious and there is enough to see, to eat and to do. Before boarding, you can take a newspaper. The crew always seems to be senior and relaxed. Once you arrive at Zaventem, 2 trains leave each hour to Ghent. The train station is just under the airport building in Zaventem.

    Conclusion: I’m willing to pay € 50/ticket more if I can fly SAS. With Ryanair your trip just doesn’t mean “sit back and relax”. It costs so much unpleasant time. But on the other hand, they offer seats at a reasonable price on almost any moment. This is great if you decide less then 2 weeks in advance you want to travel. Leaving the car for 5 days in Charleroi only costs € 40. The airliner has a bad reputation on customer care and I hope the rumors about safety are just not true. I don’t like to fly Ryanair, but I know I will have to fly with them again. They are available when the others let you down.

    SN Brussels Airlines did not respond to this post (didn’t expect that anyway). I don’t fly with them because their tickets are much more expensive than SAS. Could SAS be interested in a sponsor deal?