Booking flights with Ryanair not easy

Fear of flying can be conquered

I only conquered my fear of flying back in 2002 when I first came to Tenerife and came to see my friend Priscilla Hernandez. Although that was a major life-changing experience for me the procedure of booking the flight was a lot simpler then.

And so it has been when I have booked flights and travelled by air since. But in a very short space of time things have changed with the airlines and it is not for the better! To book a flight online is now a very complicated procedure and stressful as I discovered today.

Photo of a plane

Boeing 767-300 by Dmitriy Pichugin
Boeing 767-300 by Dmitriy Pichugin

Unknown errors

Now I have booked flights online before and have not encountered any of the complexities or problems I came across today and I really hope I never have to go through all these problems again!

In many ways I am very glad I seldom travel, and if this is anything to go by I can't see the reason why flying is so popular.

I was trying to book flights to Cardiff in Wales and back to Tenerife. You used to be able to get a flight direct and at a reasonable price. Flights used to go from Tenerife North airport but no longer is that the case.

Now after searching with Skyscanner the other day, I managed after some problems to book flights coming back from Cardiff via Malaga and then to Tenerife. Not ideal perhaps, but it takes me home.

The problem I had though was the Internet booking form kept saying there was an error and try again later. It reminded me of Myspace where it is pretty normal, or has been in my experience, to get notices saying "an unexpected error" has occurred. Now that is annoying, but you certainly don't expect it when booking a flight.

Anyway, I eventually succeeded but was aggravated by the additional charges on top of what was advertised plus the way the websites for both airlines I booked with did all they could to sell you more. I was asked did I want to book insurance, did I want to take a musical instrument, did I want to hire a car, book into a hotel, choose my seat. No, I didn't want any of it. I simply wanted to go from A to B as cheaply as possible in the least amount of time.

It isn't as if I am trying to book flights last minute either because I want to travel in September but I did want the cheapest flights to Cardiffand the cheapest flights back here.

Vueling airlines

Vueling plane in Barcelona Airport. Photo by Steve Andrews
Vueling plane in Barcelona Airport. Photo by Steve Andrews

Problems with Ryanair

Anyway, having booked flights with bmibaby.com and Vueling to come back here I knew I had to book my flight out to Cardiff very soon or they might sell out.

Searching on the Internet for flights, unless you use Skyscanner (and even with it), can be a very annoying and disappointing business. They try to sell you very long flights that you need several stops on overnight and cost a phenomenal amount of money, Does anyone really book these flights I always wonder?

But back to today when Skyscanner said there was only one flight left to Dublin and then to Cardiff. It meant that I have to leave here at the horrible time of 5am but in these situations beggars cannot be choosers it seems.

I will book the flights anyway, I thought, so clicked on the button to book the Ryanair flight I wanted. I had navigated through it all and ignored all the additional stuff I didn't want and finally got to paying for the flight section, or so I thought.

I had my credit card out ready and didn't envisage any problems but I certainly got some!

First of all, on the form, it would not accept my phone number without the country or area code. I had to Google it to find what this was - you can tell I don't travel much from that!

But then on the final click to pay a notice came up saying: "An unknown error has occurred. You have not been charged but due to system failure we cannot accept this form of payment at this time. Please try another form of payment or try again at a later time."

I tried again but same result. I tried refreshing the page but no joy. I closed the window and started from scratch but to no avail. I consulted the FAQ but it did not cover the question I had. I was getting worried the flight would sell and I would be stuck with return tickets for a trip to Wales I could not take.

I went through submitting all details again and clicked to pay and then yet another notice came up. This time it said: "Please correct the following (Y) is too long in length."

Unfortunately, it didn't tell me what "Y" was. There was nothing labelled Y on the form or starting with that letter.

Thinking it was a temporary problem, hopefully, I tried again but it wouldn't accept my details although I could see nothing wrong with any of it and still didn't know what Y was.

Eventually, by using a process of elimination, and bearing in mind that something was "too long", I tried shortening things like getting rid of "MR" off my name and finally hit upon leaving Tenerife out of the address.

That was the key to success. Tenerife is "Y" and is not needed in the information to book a flight from here but I really cannot understand that!

I moved on to the next flight which is from Dublin via Aer Lingus, and whilst it was cheap apart from another baggage fee it got to the point where I could not proceed unless I clicked on "Outbound" or not. Thinking, well, yes, of course I am going to be "outbound" I clicked on it only to find another €20 was being added.

Apparently you have to pay all that just to use the lounge. What a total rip-off, I thought, and I remembered last time I was at Dublin Airport and was horrified by the prices of sandwiches which were over €7.

Do these airlines think we are all made of money and IT and computer nerds as well? I am supposedly good with working online and with a PC but I found filling in the forms really hard.

I am glad I don't have to sort out booking travel flights for a world tour! I think I would rather not go!

© 2010 Steve Andrews

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Comments 15 comments

LillyGrillzit profile image

LillyGrillzit 6 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

It has become quite complicated. Wish you guys had SouthWest Airlines...they are the best. Better luck if there is a next time!


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Good grief. Hope your trip is a lot more pleasant than your booking experience. I book on-line a lot, but have not used the sites you mention, although I have used Ryanair and am still amazed at some of the really low fares within GB/Brit Isles). Hope you finally worked it out for a reasonable cost. Happy trails.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

It makes me glad that I don't fly. I used to have to fly in connection to my job but bookings were made for me. I never found it a fun experience and it seems o be worse now.


justom profile image

justom 6 years ago from 41042

Everything about flying now is a pain in the arse. I only do it when driving and time don't mesh. Peace!!


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for your comments, Lilly, GL, Dahoglund and Tom! It was made even worse as I have had a wasted and stressful day otherwise!


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

I only fly when going to Vietnam or something. I did a year ago though. I drove a friend's mother back to Ohio and flew back. I was surprised that hair gel wasn't legal. Great post Sir!


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you, Micky!


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

In the "old days," You could fly the friendly skies with a sexy stewardess and books were a simply, quick phone call... Southwest Airlines is still quick and simple. However, I do not believe they are option for you...


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

No, Dallas, they are not around here! Thanks for posting though!


legendindia 6 years ago

thank you for information.


TechViaggio 6 years ago

I share your frustration. On this side of the pond I've also run into many online booking problems and I admit the error messages are not helpful. This morning I just read that Delta Airlines is now going to be selling flights on Facebook. I wonder if it will trigger a message to friends saying I just booked a flight to Atlanta or some such nonsense.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you for posting, legendindia and TechViaggio! Booking flights via Facebook I really wouldn't fancy! lol


E M Smith profile image

E M Smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

What a pain. There have been a fair few flight companies gone bust in recent days


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Well I hope none of the ones I have just booked with do or it will be a real nightmare!


hotel comparison site 5 years ago

I've had similarly bad experiences that have hit my wallet, but I read somewhere recently that you should book a flight exactly 8 weeks beforehand. They're so sure of this they have even devised an Einstein-like formula for it. From personal experience I'd say look through a few hotel comparison sites; they usually streamline the process quite a lot.

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