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?

U zegt?
  1. Koendp says:

    You could have saved one hour, taking the bus to Charleroi-Sud trainstation at 20:00 and then take train to Gent-St Pieters, arriving at 22:04 (or 21:38 if you were lucky with connections)
    Total price 1,8 euro for bus, 15 euro for train (without reduction). I fly Ryanair all the time (+40 times/year) and am used in the meantime to their practices. For me 6 hours door to door is feasable (with 1,5 hour flying time) I arrange arriving about 1 hour before check-in closes giving me a 20 minutes leeway. But you can do this only when you have confidence in the secundary means of transport.

    Koen

  2. Koendp says:

    By the way: 14:15 to 23:00 is “only” 8:45 hours instead of 11.

  3. Smetty says:

    Next time (ahum), I will go by train to Charleroi and take public transportation (Or the other way round). Like a real tourist, I just didn’t know about that (much cheaper) option. Had bought my ticket already before I discovered.

    Changed the total hours. My mistake.

    Thx for your input.

  4. Meng Liou says:

    I’m going to Gent in mid July and plan to go from Gent to Stockholm, then come back from Stockholm to Brussels. I’d appreciate your suggestion for the most convenient way, if the price is reasonable. Thanks.

  5. Smetty says:

    @Meng Liou:

    Stockholm – Brussels: fly SAS (or Ryanair or SN Brussels if you prefer those)
    Brussels – Ghent: You can easily take a train @Brussels National Airport directly to Ghent. It’s a one hour trip.

  6. Erwin says:

    Adding to Cindy’s reply:

    SAS is usually cheaper than SN Brussels, but RyanAir is the cheapest. However, flying with RyanAir means both a long trip from Brussels to Charleroi (60+ minutes) and in Sweden it takes at least 80 minutes by bus from Skavsta (where RyanAir lands, they call it Stockholm-South, but it feels like Nothern Denmark 😉 ).

    SAS is what I prefer, relatively cost effective (starting from 70 euros for a one-way ticket).

    Make also sure if you book with SAS to check out at least the Swedish website. Sometimes the prices differ a bit between the international site (www.scandinavian.net) and the swedish one (www.sas.se).

    SAS conventiently flies between Brussels Airport (Zaventem) and Stockholm Airport (Arlanda).

    A train ticket between Brussels and Ghent costs EUR 8.60.

  7. Martin says:

    Hi!
    I just wanted to say thanks for the useful comparison between SAS and Ryanair. For more flight options I would recommend having a look the Malmo Aviation as well. They offer Stockholm/Bromma (reachable by tube) to Brussels. http://www.malmoaviation.se
    Strangely enough their English site is somewhat limited. You’d at least expect the booking section to be translated. 😉

  8. joeri says:

    Hello,

    If you come to Belgium with at least 2 people with Rynair :

    – take the bus to the charleroi station

    – here you can buy a ‘go-pass’ , contains 10 trips , and costs only 45 euro ! With 1 trip you can travel in whole the country !

    Best regards,

    joeri