Eurostar beats Ryanair even without check-in

Eurostars at Waterloo International Station. Photo by en-Wikipedia user WillkmI was quite pleased to see Ryanair get into trouble with the ASA over a misleading advert. The airline claimed it is quicker and cheaper to fly from London to Brussels than to take a Eurostar train. Of course, this is very misleading as Eurostar takes passengers right from one city centre to the other, while the airports used by Ryanair tend to be a considerable distance away (in many cases they don’t even use the main airport, but instead use smaller airports in the middle of nowhere, maybe 100km away and even in a different country!)

In the case of London and Brussels, the train journey takes an hour longer than the flight. However, the estimated additional journey time to or from the airport at either end is 1 hour 45 minutes. And that’s assuming there’s a convenient connection after your flight has arrived; more likely there’ll be more waiting for a bus or train from the airport.

While all the press have concentrated on the extra journey time to and from the airport, they have largely overlooked a big time-wasting factor when it comes to air travel: check-in times. (In fact, Eurostar did bring this point up, as can be seen in the ASA Adjudication.) Ryanair suggest people arrive at least two hours before their flight departure time – time spent being ripped off by retail outlets at the airport. Eurostar, on the other hand, only require passengers to arrive 30 minutes beforehand – hardly enough time to buy a newspaper and have a coffee. That gives Eurostar another 1 hour 30 minutes advantage. Of course, that’s just the saving in time; we aren’t even considering all the inconveniences of air travel, mainly due to security restrictions, such as not being able to take liquids in hand luggage, and only being able to carry bags of certain dimensions and weight (and only hand luggage is allowed on Ryanair, unless you want to pay a hefty extra charge).

In all, Eurostar offers by far the more convenient service, and I’m glad to see that the majority of people seem to agree with me.

Let’s just re-cap: Ryanair’s flight is an hour quicker, but they have an extra 1:30 waiting around in the airport; 1:45 extra journey time to and from the airport; and no doubt at least 15 minutes waiting for the connection at the airport. Ryanair’s journey is therefore two and a half hours longer than Eurostar’s, and most probably a great deal more stressful. This time the ASA definitely came to the right conclusion, and if the blogosphere is anything to go by, consumers aren’t going to be very impressed by Mr O’Leary’s childish reaction.

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