How to survive flying with ryanair

I'd like to say that Ryanair is like marmite, that is, you either love it or hate it. But truth be told, I've never met anyone who loves it, only lots of people who don't.

However, our local airport is a ryanair hub so for us, it's much easier to put up with them than go elsewhere. And if you know the system and don't expect anything other than "if you don't like it, go somewhere else" from customer services, it's not too bad.

The first obstacle is the website. It's an evil work of genius designed to make you spend as much money as possible. There are countless buttons that you have to press to say "I don't want that". Things I don't want to buy from ryanair: travel insurance, a new suitcase, bus transfers, car hire, a hotel and again, I don't want travel insurance. But keep calm and soldier on. Don't make any mistakes as it's cheaper to buy a new ticket than to correct them.

On the positive side, the tickets are cheap (unless you want to fly in August) and they don't charge to use your debit card anymore. They do seem to have a rolling sale. It seems to me that the best time to buy your tickets is 6 weeks before you fly. (Last year I managed to buy tickets for 4 in August for €400 which seems quite reasonable.) Remember, if you want to take more than hand luggage, you have to pay lots extra.

OK, tickets bought. You must check in on-line and print out your boarding pass. Don't forget to do this, otherwise you'll be fined lots.

Packing bags. Make sure you check the weights and sizes of your bags. I often fly with only hand luggage (even with kids). But you have to measure your bag and be prepared for it to be weighed. They will make you put it in the luggage size measurer thing. You can hulk it in and out, but it physically has to fit otherwise it's another big fine. Remember, you are allowed to repack your bag so you can put all your clothes on. I've even heard rumours of 'anti ryanair' coats with lots of pockets that you can ram full of stuff.

And general airport rules, nowadays you have to have all your liquids in bottles that are less than 100mls. You can't put 50mls of liquid into a 200ml bottle. But you can take an empty bottle through so you can fill it up with water on the other side (depending on what you find on the other side which may be a water fountain in Manchester or warm water in Bristol.)

Lastly, if you want to sit together, either buy priority boarding or queue early. Or if you're travelling alone, sit and have a coffee and watch the queue get longer.

So that, in a nut-shell, is how to survive ryanair. As they say, they're cheap and on time (most of the time). And they don't charge you for going to the toilet…yet.