Review: Ryanair Bucharest to Chania (Boeing 737-800)

In this flight report, we review a Ryanair flight from Bucharest to Chania on a Boeing 737-800.

Chania flight

As I needed to get from Bucharest to Budapest, I could have easily hopped on a train or a direct TAROM flight between the two cities. However, both options were more expensive than a fun alternative I managed to come up with.

When I was scanning the skies for low-cost fares, I saw a Bucharest to Chania flight on Ryanair for the great price of 10 euro.

As luck would have it, there was also a convenient Ryanair flight from Chania to Budapest later that evening for 40 euro, which allowed me to travel between Bucharest and Budapest and visit Chania on the way!

Having lived in Chania for a year in the past, I of course couldn’t say no to this spontaneous opportunity to revisit my old hometown even though it would mean having to deal with a lot of Ryanair in a single day!

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Chania, Greece. ©Paliparan
chania beach crete
There are a couple of excellent beaches in the direct environment of Chania. ©Paliparan
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In the old town of Chania. ©Paliparan

At the airport

As my flight from Bucharest to Chania had a late morning departure time, it allowed me to sleep in a bit and leave relatively late for the airport.

Although Bucharest Otopeni Airport (OTP) can be horribly overcrowded with long queues during early morning rush hour between 4 and 9am, it is much more bearable from that moment onwards.

As I didn’t have any luggage to check and had already checked in online, I could walk straight to security control, where there was no queue whatsoever.

With boarding starting in half an hour, I just went directly to the gate area to await my flight.

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Bucharest Otopeni Airport (OTP). ©Paliparan
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Waiting at one of the bus boarding gates on the lower floor of the departure terminal. ©Paliparan

Boarding

There was only a small group of passengers hanging out at the boarding gate, which didn’t surprise me at all as today’s Ryanair flight to Chania would be the last flight of the season.

Given that this is a seasonal route which is mainly tailored towards Romanian holidaymakers going to Greece, you can expect the last flight out to a holiday destination to be rather empty.

Needless to say, booking the last flight of the season to a leisure destination (or the first flight of the season from such a tourist destination) is often dirt cheap and you are likely to have almost the entire plane to yourself.

Flying on a low-cost airline like Ryanair means of course that you need to strictly abide to all hand luggage restrictions.

With Ryanair, that means that only those passengers who bought ‘priority boarding’ are allowed to bring a large cabin bag on board such as a normal-sized trolley.

If you are travelling with a small rucksack it’s highly unlikely that you will be ever asked by the staff at the boarding gate to put it in the special measuring bin to see if your hand baggage is still within Ryanair’s allowed dimensions, although they are much more strict with trolleys, sport bags and hard-shell luggage.

However, any cabin luggage enforcement is still down to the mood of the airport personnel and it can vary wildly between different airports or even from day to day. This time around, the gate staff didn’t seem to care much and just tried to complete boarding as fast as possible.

From the gate, I was driven by bus to our aeroplane together with the 10 or so other passengers who would fly with me to Chania today.

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The Ryanair Boeing 737-800 which would fly me to Chania. ©Paliparan
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Boarding my Ryanair plane. ©Paliparan

Bucharest (OTP) to Chania (CHQ) on Ryanair
Flight FR5333 – Boeing 737-800 – Economy class, seat 2A
Plane registration number: 9H-QBO
Departure: 11.25am – Arrival: 1.20pm
Flight time: 1h55m – Distance: 632 miles

ryanair flight review report
It takes almost two hours to fly from Bucharest to Chania on the Greek island of Crete. ©Great Circle Mapper

Ryanair Boeing 737 cabin

Ryanair uses an all-Boeing 737 fleet and my flight from Bucharest to Chania was operated by a six-year-old Boeing 737-800.

Although the plane wasn’t exactly brand new, the cabin still looked rather fresh thanks to its light blue mood lighting.

Otherwise, the interior of Ryanair’s planes can only be described as bright and basic, with yellow colours dominating the cabin.

One aspect which I like about this particular Boeing 737-800 is that it has the more modern overhead bins which open from the top instead of the bottom, making them a lot larger than those on older Boeing 737s.

However, storage space was not an issue at all on today’s Ryanair flight to Chania with only 10 other passengers on board.

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Boarding the Ryanair plane. ©Paliparan
ryanair boeing 737-800 review cabin interior
The cabin interior of the Ryanair Boeing 737-800. Note the large overhead storage bins and the mood lighting. ©Paliparan
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Ryanair Boeing 737-800 cabin. ©Paliparan

Ryanair seat assignment

At the time of booking or online check-in, you can assign yourself a seat for a fee, with emergency exit as well as front row seats commanding a premium.

If you don’t want to pay for a seat, Ryanair will assign you a random seat number at check-in. If there are multiple persons on your booking, there is no certainty whatsoever that Ryanair will seat you all next to each other.

In fact, it’s a common tactic for low-cost airlines like Ryanair to seat you in completely different rows, which the airline sees as an incentive for people to pay for seat assignment and not to risk being split apart or to get a lousy seat.

There are ways how to trick Ryanair’s automatic seat assignment system if you don’t want to pay for a seat. In that case, you are well-advised to check in online as late as possible.

The first seats which Ryanair will give away are always the middle seats, followed by window and aisle seats in rows far down the cabin. Of course, Ryanair will wait as long as possible with automatically assigning any premium seats as there could always be someone who still wants to pay for it!

Only when all other seats are given away, Ryanair will distribute the premium seats all the way towards the back of the cabin (for quick deplaning from the rear exit), the emergency exit seats with more legroom, as well as the up front seats in the cabin.

Of course, this trick will work at its best when the flight is full and Ryanair will need to assign each and every seat in the cabin. When the flight is only half full, they certainly won’t give you one of those premium seats as there are plenty of normal seats left which the automated system can assign you.

Although you can try to switch to a better seat once boarding has completed or mid-flight, chances are that Ryanair flight attendants will not allow this for the most premium seats such as those in the front row (however, I never had any problems switching to an empty row somewhere in the middle of the cabin).

ryanair seat map review
Seat map of a Ryanair flight – the prices for seat reservation depend on the duration of your flight. ©Paliparan

Ryanair seat comfort

Even though I knew that this flight would be rather empty, I did assign myself a seat in advance (2A) for 13 euro.

When it comes to seating comfort, then Ryanair’s seats are what you might have already expected from it.

These being slimline seats means that they are a bit hard and not very comfortable, although to be fair this is more or less what you get with almost every airline in Europe these days and not unique to low-cost airlines like Ryanair.

For a short flight like this one of just under two hours, the seat is certainly acceptable enough.

The amount of legroom of my Ryanair seat was decent as well, although people taller than me (1.86m or 6’1) might struggle a bit and would perhaps be better off selecting an aisle seat.

Overall, I always find the shoulder room a bit more restrictive than the seat pitch. Fortunately, given that I had an entire row to myself on this flight I had plenty of room to stretch my legs and shoulders.

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Ryanair seats. ©Paliparan
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Ryanair legroom. ©Paliparan

Departure

Unsurprisingly, boarding was completed in no time and we were soon pushed back from our parking spot and on our way towards one of the two runways of Bucharest Otopeni Airport.

On this beautiful autumn day with clear blue skies, there were some beautiful views from the window upon take-off.

To my surprise, we had a flight path which took us directly over Bucharest – something which is extremely rare.

Although some of the pictures below aren’t the best ever given that I had to make them with the sunlight shining directly into the window, you can clearly see some Bucharest landmarks such as Ceaușescu’s madcap People’s Palace.

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Taxiing towards the runway of Bucharest Otopeni Airport. ©Paliparan
take-off view
Take-off views over the Wallachian plain which dominates the landscape of Southern Romania. ©Paliparan
take-off view
Take-off view. ©Paliparan
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View over Bucharest from the plane window. ©Paliparan
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View over Bucharest – if you look carefully enough you can see the People’s Palace. ©Paliparan

Bulgaria

The flight path of today’s flight from Bucharest to Chania would take us over Bulgaria and the Chalkidiki peninsula of northern Greece, from where we would cross the Aegean Sea towards Crete.

It really was a gorgeous day for flying as visibility was great and allowed you to see for dozens of miles away.

Flying south from Bucharest, I always like to spot the main geographical features such as the Danube which forms the boundary between Romania and Bulgaria, as well as the two main Bulgarian mountain ranges (Balkan Mountains and Rhodope Mountains).

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The Danube forms the boundary between Romania and Bulgaria. ©Paliparan
bulgaria mountains
Flying over the Bulgarian mountains. ©Paliparan
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Ryanair winglet. ©Paliparan
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The visibility was superb during the flight. ©Paliparan
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Ryanair Boeing 737-800 flying over the Bulgarian mountains. ©Paliparan

In-flight service

As the flight load was so light, the Ryanair crew seemed to be in a great mood as it meant they could do their work at a more leisurely pace.

One of the Ryanair flight attendants even sat down in seat 1A in front of me for a while to admire the views and I ended up having a short but fun chat about flying with him.

As a low-cost airline, Ryanair has a buy-on-board menu, selling all kinds of snacks and drinks.

Expect to pay 2.50 euro for a soft drink, 5 euro for a beer, 3 euro for a bottle of water, as well as 3 euro for a coffee or tea. Sandwiches and light meals start at 5 euro.

Of course, the Ryanair flight attendants won’t leave you alone after they paraded down the aisle with their drinks cart.

You can expect them to do the same for in-flight shopping and there will be a sales pitch as well for Ryanair lottery tickets.

With the flurry of announcements and all the activity going on in the aisle, a Ryanair flight is never quiet – not even on flights like this with only 10 passengers on board.

ryanair buy-on-board menu review
A page from the Ryanair buy-on-board menu. ©Screenshot Ryanair

Greece

Views from the window were equally gorgeous by the time we left Bulgarian airspace and the northern coast of Greece and the Aegean Sea came in sight.

From the plane window, I could easily spot the three “fingers” of the Chalkidiki peninsula, as well as the contours of the islands of Thasos and Samothrace.

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The Aegean Sea finally comes in sigh. In the distance you can see the islands of Samothrace (left) and Thasos (right). ©Paliparan
Chalkidiki
Flying over the Chalkidiki peninsula. ©Paliparan

Toilet

One thing which always amuses me when people talk about Ryanair is that the airline is so ultra low-cost that they would even charge you for using the toilet.

Fortunately, visiting the lavatory was still complimentary during my Ryanair flight.

Sure, it might not have luxury eau de toilette inside it (Ryanair-labelled soap is all you get – you are flying low-cost, not in Emirates first class!) but at least the lavatory was spotlessly clean.

The whole “we will charge you for a visit to the lavatory” tale is actually one which is cultivated by Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary and the airline’s marketing department.

There is absolutely no chance whatsoever that Ryanair would ever ask for a charge just to use the toilet (it would probably never be approved by regulatory aviation bodies) but still the airline sometimes brings up the idea.

They know that although people will all say such a plan is a disgrace, it actually helps to reinforce Ryanair’s image as a low-cost airline and makes people curious to their fares and offers.

You have to give Ryanair one thing: They are absolutely brilliant when it comes to marketing and pushing their narrative.

ryanair toilet lavatory review
Ryanair lavatory. ©Paliparan

Landing

Although the weather has been great during the entire flight, it unfortunately wasn’t the case anymore once we approached Crete.

The island was blanketed in thick clouds and it seemed that rain showers were approaching.

Even though the weather wasn’t really what you would expect on Crete, the views on final approach to Chania Airport were still fantastic.

From my window, I had a fantastic view of the Akrotiri peninsula, with the famous beach from Zorba the Greek at the village of Stavros being visible all the way at the horizon underneath the mountain.

Chania Airport is a joint civilian and military airport which is part of the larger Souda Bay Naval Base.

The airport is not only used by the Greek Air Force but also by the armed forces of other NATO countries and you will likely see lots of bunkers and military planes across its premises.

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Crete’s Akrotiri peninsula looming in the distance. ©Paliparan
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View over the Akrotiri peninsula on final approach towards Chania Airport. ©Paliparan
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Chania Airport landing view. ©Paliparan
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Chania Airport landing view. ©Paliparan
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Military plane on the runway of Chania Airport. ©Paliparan
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Touchdown at Chania Airport. ©Paliparan

Arrival

The Ryanair Boeing 737-800 landed safely and on time at Chania Airport and parked right in front of the passenger terminal.

From the plane, we could walk straight to passport control and the baggage reclaim hall. Within two minutes after deplaning I already stood outside of the arrivals hall of the airport.

Regular KTEL buses link Chania Airport to the main bus station in downtown Chania. You can buy a ticket from the KTEL booth at the parking lot in front of the airport or directly from the bus driver.

As the bus from the airport Chania didn’t depart for another 25 minutes, I had all the time to buy my first freddo espresso of the day.

Sipping from my great-quality iced coffee, it certainly felt good being back on the island of Crete despite the lousy weather.

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My Ryanair Boeing 737-800 Chania Airport. ©Paliparan
chania airport terminal
From the plane, we could walk directly towards the terminal. ©Paliparan
freddo espresso
Buying a freddo espresso is always my first order of business after arrival in Greece. ©Paliparan

Conclusion

As a low-cost airline, you know what you can expect when you book a Ryanair ticket.

As long as you follow all the rules and dimensions regarding your luggage and don’t need any additional extras such as a pre-assigned seat, priority boarding or food and drinks on board, you will likely benefit from dirt-cheap ticket prices.

That was certainly the situation in my case, as I only paid 10 euro for my ticket and an additional 13 euro for an up front seat.

Sure, the Ryanair seat might not be the most comfortable in the world, the seat pitch and shoulder room might be a bit restrictive and the constant sales pitches are annoying.

However, paying just 23 euro for a flight across Europe was simply a great deal – and as long as your flight arrives safely and on time you really cannot complain about anything else.

Trip report index

This ‘Trains, Planes, Beer and Tapas: A Trip to Prague and Madrid’ trip report consists of the following chapters:

1. Review: Ryanair (Boeing 737-800) Bucharest to Chania (current chapter)
2. A Rainy Chania Stopover
3. Ryanair Hell: My Bad Chania to Budapest Flight Experience
4. Review: T62 Hotel, Budapest, Hungary
5. Review: EuroCity Train “Hungaria” Budapest to Brno
6. A Walk Through the Historic Old Town Centre of Brno
7. Review: EuroCity Train “Metropolitan” Brno to Prague
8. Review: K+K Hotel Central, A Prague Art Nouveau Delight
9. Beer Boozing in Prague: Sampling Some Czech Brews
10. Praha Hlavní Nádraží – Prague’s Stunning Art Nouveau Station
11. Review: Leo Express Train Prague to Olomouc
12. Olomouc Guide: Baroque and Belle Epoque Beauty
13. Review: RegioJet Train Olomouc to Prague
14. Review: Erste Premier Lounge Prague Airport
15. Review: Air France HOP Business Class Embraer 170
16. Review: Air France Schengen Business Lounge Paris CDG Terminal 2F
17. Review: Air France Business Class Paris CDG to Madrid (Airbus A220)
18. A Madrid Tapas Crawl: Bar Hopping in Spain’s Capital
19. Review: Ibis Madrid Aeropuerto Barajas
20. Review: Puerta de Alcala VIP Lounge Madrid Airport
21. Review: Air Europa Economy Class Madrid to Milan (Boeing 787)
22. How to Transfer Between Milan Malpensa and Bergamo Airport

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Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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