Warning. Ryanair's cutting its free check-in window from 1 Nov
With Ryanair, the golden rule is to ALWAYS check in online and print or download your boarding pass – if you don't, you could have to cough up £45 per person, per flight. Yet Ryanair's just changed its T&Cs so for flights departing from 1 Nov, you'll only be able to check in for free up to four days in advance (it's currently up to seven days).
The people this hits are those that would check-in between four and seven days in advance, particularly those going away for a week who want to sort it all before they go. If that's you, consider using the app
Ryanair passengers can choose between paying for a seat – it's typically between £8 and £15 per person – or not paying and being randomly allocated seating.
If you pay for a seat, you can check in for free up to 30 days before flying. This isn't changing.
If you don't pay for a seat, you can currently check in for free between two hours and seven days before departure. However for anyone checking in from Tue 1 Nov, this is changing to between two hours and four days before departure.
How to avoid being stung – use the app
The new rules mean if you want to check in for free and are going abroad for more than a couple of days, you're now likely to need to check in overseas.
The easy way to do this is via Ryanair's free app (for iOS or Android). In most cases you can also get your boarding pass on the app too, meaning no hassle trying to find a printer. Remember if you're overseas, beware costly mobile data charges (see Mobile and Data Roaming) – it's better to use free Wi-Fi.
However, mobile boarding cards aren't accepted at a few airports (mainly in Morocco) –
NEVER leave it until you get to the airport
Whatever you do, don't leave checking in until you arrive at the airport. You'll pay £45 per person, per flight if you fail to do it online in advance – that's £180 for a family of four if you get it wrong, more than the cost of some flights.
Plus, if you do check in online but you don't print out your boarding pass or download it onto your smartphone, you'll be stung with a £15 per person fee for it to be reissued to you when you get to the airport.