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Ryanair's flights to the US for under $20: would the experience be worth the savings?

4/03/2014 Oliver Smith
A Ryanair plane. © Provided by WAtoday A Ryanair plane.

Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Irish budget airline Ryanair, has claimed the airline could offer flights to the US for less than £10 ($AU18.54) when it eventually buys the long-haul aircraft it needs.

The flights would leave from up to 14 major European cities to 12-14 destinations in the US, he said.

Passengers, however, would pay extra for everything from meals to baggage.

So what would a long-haul flight with Ryanair be like?

And how much would you save once all those extras have been factored in?


Currently Ryanair has a fleet of almost 300 Boeing 737-800s.

Seats have a “pitch” (depth) of 30 inches and are 17 inches wide.

A handful of premium economy seats have slightly more legroom, with a pitch of 32-34 inches.

These short-to-medium-range aircraft could not be used to operate a long-haul network, but to get an idea of the legroom that might be available – there are a few existing low-cost airlines that fly long-haul.

Norwegian, which flies from Europe to Bangkok and the US (with flights from Gatwick to the States due to start in the summer) uses Boeing 787 Dreamliners with a seat pitch of 31-32 inches, and a width 17.2.

It also has a premium economy section (pitch 46, width 19).

AirAsia X, the Malaysia-based long-haul arm of AirAsia, which was recently tipped to resume flights from Kuala Lumpur to Europe, mostly uses Airbus A330-300s, as does Jetstar for its longer flights, from Australia to destinations such as Japan and Hawaii.

AirAsia X’s economy seats are have a pitch of 32 inches and are 16.5 inches wide.

It also has a dozen flat bed seats in business class, with a pitch of 60 inches and a width of 20.

Jetstar seats have a 31-inch pitch and are 17.5 inches wide (or 38 and 20 in “Star Business”).

So it can be assumed that travellers on a long-haul Ryanair flight won’t get much more room that they currently have now – perhaps a single inch more legroom at most – unless they purchase the “premium” seats mentioned by Mr O’Leary.

However, when compared to existing transatlantic airlines, such as BA and Virgin Atlantic, those dimensions don’t look half bad.

BA’s 777s and Virgin’s A330s have a seat pitch of 31 inches and a width of 17.5 in economy.

By way of comparison, Emirates, on its most common model, the Boeing 777-200ER, uses a seat pitch of 32-34 inches and a width of 17 in economy class.

Ryanair's seats do not recline, however, unlike those on the vast majority of long-haul airlines.

It might be wise to choose reclining seats should its long-haul fleet ever materialise - an eight-hour flight sat bolt upright would test anyone's resolve.

The Telegraph, London

Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's chief executive officer. © Provided by WAtoday Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's chief executive officer.
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