By Nikita Verma
On average, around 50% of NYU Stern students spend at least one semester abroad, and for many, travel is a defining part of their experience. Being students however, budgeting travel and airfare is essential. Understanding airlines’ prices is consequently an essential part of smart and cheap planning.
As those who study at one of NYU’s many study abroad locations in Europe would know, Ryanair is the flagship provider of budget air travel in Europe. Customers can get plane tickets for under ten dollars, making it a popular choice among financially-conscious students. But is Ryanair really worth it, and how it is able to keep prices as low as it does?
Ryanair has a model described as a low cost carrier model. This model offers competitively low fares with an elimination of passenger services. Essentially this means that instead of offering consumers the nicest or most luxurious flying experience, it focuses on bare minimum features while keeping prices as low as possible. Ryanair also uses other means to keep cost low such as using the same type of aircraft, the Boeing 737, throughout its network. This lowers maintenance costs associated with servicing different aircraft models.
Many of these strategies, while keeping costs low, have financial impacts on consumers like Stern students who may not realize it. For example, Ryanair has a tendency to fly to cities’ secondary airports instead of the most popular ones. This practice tends to lower costs as these airports are not in as high demand. For study away students this means being mindful of total transportation costs instead of only looking at the price of plane tickets while planning trips because airports in less central locations may be more expensive to leave and return.
Ryanair also incurs lower employee expenses. The company hires fewer employees per plane than many competitors by flying shorter distances. This model allows Ryanair to employ only two flight attendants per flight instead of the five that exist in most major carriers. While for the airline, this means Ryanair earn around 40% higher revenue per employee, this may mean poor service for customers.
Add-ons are another way for these budget airlines to bring in the extra bucks. Through means such as seat reservations, administrative fees, and check-in prices, these airlines serve convenience at a price. Students traveling should be aware of these costs because the add-ons offered can, in some cases, end up being more expensive than the price of the plane ticket itself.
With careful planning, students can take advantage of the cheap prices airlines such as Ryanair have to offer as long as they recognise the potential hidden costs that come with its low fares.