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Ryanair and easyJet launch free apps, but how well do they work?

Posted in: Budget Air Travel

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Unlike the Ryanair app, easyJet's new app didn't provide us with any flashes of terror.
Unlike the Ryanair app, easyJet's new app didn't provide us with any flashes of terror.

Both Ryanair and easyJet now offer customers their own smartphone apps, allowing passengers to book flights or update bookings on the go. Both apps are free and available from your preferred app site. But how do they compare?

Ryanair’s app is an ultra low-cost model with just four functions: flight booking, booking management, flight schedule listing, and access to their press release feed.

EasyJet’s app not only looks slick, it also offers travelers everything they could hope for, from flight booking and booking modification to a flight tracker with up-to-date information about delays and even mobile boarding passes.

Ryanair recently rolled out a new social media strategy, including the @ryanair twitter feed (in addition to its recent service improvements). It has promised to invest more in its mobile and web interfaces over the course of the winter in order to make booking easier for its customers.

EasyJet appears to have grasped the advantages of such focus much earlier. You can follow easyJet on twitter @easyJet and like them on Facebook.

Watch that date!

Watch that date!

Our tests

This morning EuroCheapo’s editor Tom Meyers downloaded both of the apps to see how they stacked up. Here’s his recap of the results:

Ryanair: What am I doing wrong?

I was initially nervous when I noticed that the Rynair app had a one-star (out of five) rating in Apple’s app store, but I assumed that could be chalked up to the low-cost carrier’s enemies (they’re everywhere) and other trolls on the web. Well, after fidgeting with the app for about 20 minutes, it became clear that perhaps the rating is merited.

As Hilary points out above, the app is simple and straight-forward. As with the airline’s website (and the airline itself, for that matter), design and beauty don’t seem to be high priorities for the company. They want you to search, find cheap fares, and book.

However, I had real problems with the actual functionality of the thing. I tried searching for a Berlin – Milan flight for next February and March. Try as I might, it took me several attempts to get the app to work and see results.

After my first search the screen went black. My next search resulted in a terrifying blue screen. (Nobody likes blue screens—on desktops or smartphones.) I searched again, and got an (even uglier) error screen telling me (in red) that “! This date is not available please select another date.

Assuming that the airline wasn’t flying that route on that date (and frustrated that they hadn’t simply suggested other dates when the route was available), I bumped my dates around, leaving one day earlier or coming back one day later. I was determined to make this thing work.

Now, if, unlike me, you’ve already had a second cup of coffee today, you may have already noticed in my screenshot (above) that the dates I entered were, in fact, impossible. I had ended up searching for 2013, when I meant to be searching for 2014.

Pretty simpleTo be fair, that was my mistake.  And once I succeeded in clearing these hurdles, I found some decent deals on flights (€27 and €39 each way). Throw in a piece of checked luggage (at €15 each way), and the voyage was mine for €96.

easyJet: Orange you pretty

By contrast, the easyJet app was smooth sailing. Once you tap into it, you’re greeted with a pretty orange animation, and the sense that the company spent quite a bit of time and money on its design and functionality.

It’s a breeze to set your destinations and dates (and yes, it ensures that you’re not searching in the past). Interesting, it pushes you to pay with a debit card, thus avoiding the extra charge it tacks on for credit card purchases.

After you choose your fares, you’re prompted to enter your hold luggage options (again, clearly explaining the charges). Et voila, my total for the same Berlin / Milan flight is displayed… €91.98 (also including €30 for one checked bag).

Conclusions

No big shocker here: The easyJet experience was smooth… almost smooth enough for me to not fume at the €30 bag charge.

As for Ryanair, the experience was really quite frustrating, and for a moment, terrifying. Still, once I overcame the technical obstacles thrown at me, I found a reasonably priced (budget) flight. I’d probably subject myself to it again in the future…

Hmmm. Sound familiar?

Have you downloaded either app? Tell us about your experience in the comments section.

 

About the author

Hilary Bown

An academic by training, a writer by day, and a Cheapo by heritage, Hilary Bown's meagre means and insatiable travel appetite have helped her sharpen her "no-budget travel" skills across the European continent over the past decade. At home in Berlin or on an adventure abroad, you'll find her in sandals, riding the bus, reading novels while walking, drinking the local wine, writing out postcards with a felt-tip pen, and browsing the shelves of the supermarket and hardware store. Find her unique blend of travel adventure and tested advice at Less Than a Shoestring.

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