Fly Free All Over Europe

September 23, 2008
Fares from Washington DC:

    9/26 Update: Although the sale mentioned in this article was extended beyond its original deadline, it has now ended and been replaced by another great sale. Follow the links below to see what's currently on offer, but don't limit yourself to Ryanair. They may be the biggest budget player in Europe, but they're obviously not the only game in town.

    Until we launch our British sister site soon, which will update you on great fares for travel within Europe the same way we now keep you posted on unbeatable domestic and international deals, we will occasionally let you know about European offers that are too good to pass up.

    Like this latest "almost too good to be true" offer from Ryanair, which has put 2 million seats on "sale" for the next 2 days, available for fall travel to select European destinations. We haven't checked them all, but can at least assure you that in full if reluctant and belated compliance with new European Union "truth even in airfare advertising" rules, these deals really are as good as they sound and entirely free of any nasty tax bite or bitter aftertaste.

    Moreover, to many destinations not included in this freebie sale, all-inclusive one-way fares start at just EUR15 from Germany, EUR23 from Ireland and £22 from Great Britain, making this a truly great tax-free deal in any currency, even at these paltry exchange rates.

    The prevailing criticism of Ryanair is the old familiar saw that you only get what you pay for, as if there's actually anything wrong with that, but in this case you really are getting something for nothing and who can find fault with that? How exactly Ryanair makes any money in this business doing business like this has mystified Europeans for as long as they've been flying, but they still somehow manage to turn a profit every year, although the airline recently warned that this could be a rare break-even year.

    No matter, their loss is your gain and here's a great chance for you to practice what we preach, which is to grab the best fare you can find across the Atlantic and then combine it with an amazing deal like this. The savings can sometimes be sizable, especially if you're going to more out-of-the-way places, which is usually where Ryanair goes anyway, since they prefer to use smaller and cheaper secondary airports.

    It is for this reason that Dublin remains our favorite gateway to Europe. Not only is it often the cheapest European destination, but the compact terminal is a convenient one-stop transfer shop and, this being Ryanair's home base, one of the few major airports the airline flies to. Trying to arrange your connection through other cities will often require a trek between different airports and that can be a considerable hassle unless you happen to have reason to visit that particular city.

    Keep in mind that Ryanair invented the notorious checked-bag fee and this is one extra they'll surely be happy to charge you. Also beware that even though you are protected by the European Union Air Passenger Rights on all flights departing Europe, which makes a carrier liable for damages even if they cause you to miss your return flight back across the Atlantic, Ryanair is not known to be all that accommodating in this respect, so be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to make your connection wherever you decide to do it.