Update 2017: Ryanair is still going strong with 2 cabin bags allowed! Read on.
The last time I flew Ryanair in 2013, I scrambled to fit my purse inside my backpack for my flights, as Ryanair only allowed one cabin bag total. As a group of four, we checked one backpack that we stuffed some extra things into and split the cost (because it’s expensive to check bags on Ryanair), and we managed to carry on the rest of our stuff.
The common scenes at the airport gates those days were people packing and repacking their bags to make everything fit or be under the maximum weight, or getting charged last minute to check bags, or bags packed full to the brim with sweatshirts and shoes (and anything else that didn’t fit inside) hanging off the outsides.
Flying Ryanair was cheap until they potentially blind-sided travelers with baggage costs, which made the entire endeavor a bit stressful. Those days, thankfully, are over (for now).
Ryanair baggage restrictions have eased up, big time. In June of 2014, they changed the rules completely, to the traveler’s advantage. They now allow one personal bag as well as one cabin bag. Check recent Ryanair rules here.
On a recent trip to Europe, I flew Ryanair three times, from Sweden to Spain to Portugal and back, and not once did I have a problem with my luggage*. That luggage consisted of a 50L backpack (not packed full) and an over-the-shoulder purse with a laptop inside, among other essentials. See my complete Europe packing list here.
*DO NOT test your bag in the sizing bins, and beyond that, if you do this and your bag is too big, DO NOT tell the gate attendants. The only time I saw them get strict with a passenger’s luggage size was after she sized her bag and realized it was too big, and then decided to tell them it was too big. (I mean, really?) They eventually let her on the flight, but not before making a huge, huge scene. Don’t leave your common sense at home like that woman. To be safe, don’t overpack, make sure your bag will fit if they ask you to size it, but don’t do it voluntarily.
This is the new normal for Ryanair:
Okay, two free bags in nice, but what about weight? We are in luck here, too. In my three different flights at three different airports, the Ryanair personnel didn’t ask me to weigh my pack once. For two of the three flights, they went through the line and made most people with roller suitcases check them at the gate (for free), but they passed right by us with our backpacks both times.
I dare say after these three experiences that Ryanair doesn’t care so much about luggage anymore. These are good times to be flying Ryanair! Just be sure to check-in and print out your boarding passes ahead of time online, or you will be charged to do it at the airport. Other than that, rest assured that you can take two bags – one personal and one appropriately-sized backpack or carry-on suitcase – with you on the plane on your future Ryanair flight.