British Airways Vs Ryanair – Short Haul Economy Class

At first glance, comparing British Airways’ economy cabin to Ryanair may seem absurd. After all, how could you compare a full-service legacy carrier to Europe’s largest low-cost carrier? Let’s find out how they compare!

British Airways, Ryanair, Economy Comparison
Ryanair vs. British Airways. How do the two airlines compare in 2020? Photo: Ryanair (top) / British Airways (bottom)

Aircraft and seats

British Airways typically operates three A320 family members on its short-haul routes, the Airbus A319, A320, and A321. This includes both the classic engine option and neo variants. The airline has recently been operating the 787 on routes such as Athens for its additional cargo capacity.

The size of the airline’s economy cabin varies depending on route and aircraft. However, in its 3-3 configuration, its seats have between 29 and 34 inches of pitch, according to SeatGuru.

British Airways, Ryanair, Economy Comparison
Ryanair’s chairs have no recline function and a little table. Photos: Tom Boon – Simple Flying Left | Ryanair – Right

Ryanair currently operates a standard fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft. These seat 189? passengers with a pitch of 30 inches. However, in 2021 the airline is due to start taking the new Boeing 737 MAX 200. These aircraft will have 200 seats with a pitch of 28 inches.


Of course, the real difference between British Airways and Ryanair are the prices and the routes offered. While British Airways charges more for flights, more services are included. For example, anybody can check-in at the airport for free and carry two items of hand luggage. However, like Ryanair, BA will charge economy passengers to check a bag into the hold.

British Airways, Ryanair, Economy Comparison
Ryanair’s fares are much cheaper than British Airways, but they include much less. Photo: Getty Images

On the other hand, Ryanair sells flights for as little as £9.99 ($12.99). However, this will get you a bum on a seat. Everything extra from a standard size carry on suitcase to checking in at the airport will add to the price.


There is a real difference between the routes offered by each carrier. British Airways’ short-haul network is currently operating exclusively from London. That means that if you want to fly anywhere else, you will need to connect in the capital.

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Ryanair, on the other hand, operates many point to point flights across Europe. This means that if you wanted to get from Edinburgh to Baden Baden in Germany, you could. With British Airways you would have to fly to London, before changing onto a Frankfurt flight, and then spending a couple of hours on the train.

Getty Ryanair desk
Ryanair’s network is more expansive than the British flag carrier’s. Photo: Getty Images

Onboard service

When it comes to both airlines’ physical service, there is typically little difference between the two airlines in the economy cabin. Indeed, both British Airways and Ryanair offer a buy onboard menu, albeit one features steak pies, while the other features pizza and chips.

However, due to the current situation, things have changed. While Ryanair continues to offer a robust buy onboard menu, British Airways’ EuroTraveller passengers are currently provided with a bottle of water and a snack, while the buy onboard menu is suspended.

Have you flown with British Airways and Ryanair recently? Which one did you prefer? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!