How Ryanair Manages Super Tight Turn Arounds

Aircraft on the ground aren’t making airlines money. Instead, they’re costing money. As such, it is in airlines’ interests to keep their aircraft in the air. Ultra-low-cost carriers such as Ryanair take this to the extreme with turn arounds taking as little as 25 minutes.

Ryanair, Best Seats, Worst Seats
Ryanair exclusively operates the Boeing 737. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

In order to keep their aircraft in the air for as long as possible, ultra-low-cost carriers have almost perfected the art of the quick turn around. In fact, look at the first arrival of the day at the company’s biggest hub, London Stansted. Malta Air’s FR 2813 arrives in London at 07:10. However, the aircraft goes on to depart back to Cologne as FR2814 just 30 minutes later at 07:40. How is such a tight turn around possible?

Removing the passengers quickly

In order to get the passengers off quickly, Ryanair typically uses stairs at the front and rear of the aircraft. While most airlines just disembark passengers from the front door, by also utilizing the rear door, Ryanair can effectively halve the time taken to disembark the aircraft.

Additionally, the Boeing 737s used by Ryanair have airstairs hidden below the front door on the port side. This allows passengers to disembark the aircraft without waiting for stairs to be pushed up to the aircraft.

Ryanair, Turn Around, Ground Time
Ryanair rarely uses jet bridges. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Quick cabin preparations

Ryanair manages to cut the time taken to prepare the cabin for the next flight quite well. According to the Telegraph, the airline removed seatback pockets from the interior of its aircraft in 2004. With nowhere to leave rubbish, passengers are subconsciously encouraged to take their trash with them.

Getting everybody on quickly

The next hurdle to the quick turn around is getting all of the passengers for the next flight onboard the aircraft. Ryanair likes to employ a tactic named “Boarding Not Boarding” by Simple Flying’s Paul Lucas. The airline often begins the boarding process before passengers have finished leaving the aircraft. This means that any problems are dealt with in plenty of time.

Following a quick turn around, the aircraft start their next journey. Photo: Ryanair

Additionally, Ryanair has an incredibly strict baggage policy. Only those with Priority Boarding are allowed to take a bag that will go in the overhead lockers. However, the number of Priority Boarding slots is limited. As such, the airline shouldn’t be in a position where it has more bags then space on an aircraft.

Ryanair used to offer unallocated seating. This has the potential to cause issues if passengers aren’t happy that they can’t sit together for example. However, by introducing allocated seating last decade, passengers will be aware before boarding if they don’t have seats next to each other.

What is the quickest Ryanair turnaround that you’ve witnessed? Let us know in the comments!