BrightCedars From Belgium, joined Nov 2004, 1282 posts, RR: 2 Posted (5 years 11 months 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 3103 times:
I'm home alone for a few weeks so I decided to take some cheap weekend breaks away from the usual gloom and cold of cloudy Brussels at this time of year. Weekend one is MAD, 2 will be DUB, 3 will be STN/ALC.
Sat Jan 12: CRL-MAD FR5463 B738 EI-DWI / 6A
Picked up my mum who elected to join me on this trip to discover the Spanish capital in about 24h on site. We drove to Charleroi airport (about 40 mins from North East Brussels) and parked at the long term parking: 24€ for 2 days including the shuttle coach to and from the airport. They should invest in some more asphalt, drains, and (illuminated?) markings at that parking but it does the job. The shuttle service is operated by coach so you sometimes get to take your luggage upstairs which isn't really comfortable. Using flat buses would be a brighter idea.
I had done our check-in online so we could directly go to the gate and enjoy complimentary priority boarding. The customs were very conscientious and so I got my deo taken away and mum got her remaining 10ml of liquid soap in a 150ml bottle taken away. Never been that throughly checked anywhere else since these rules are of application.
Queued, boarded the brand new B737-8AS using the forward stairs, sat in 6A & B. Clear skies over Spain and we went all the way around the city before landing at MAD so by now we had a good idea of what Madrid was like.
According to Airfleets.net, this bird was delivered on Oct. 20, 2007 so pretty recent, and it does have window shades! So is it a myth or did they change their policy at one point? Pitch was fine and the seats are leather, no seat pocket, no recline. Table, lamp and fresh air nozzle are standard. Life vest in ceiling, kind of makes sense. Seat-back glued safety instructions, smart. The aircraft has no eye-browse, a first for me. A cute lady sat next to mum in 6C which triggered mum's asthma induced cough, the lady was kind enough to move to 5C upon our request, and the coughing stopped. Thanks again!
We took off on time and arrived on time at the airbridge at MAD's T1.
We took a 2-day metro pass (7,20€ incl airport line) and went to the hotel to get rid of our luggage. On one of the stairs, I noticed 2 East European looking girls approaching mum's bag. I managed to stop the maneuver before they had time to do their trick, but the zipper was already opened! This was a first warning only. From then on we were extremely cautious. We went around by metro (quite a few stairs and not really elder and infant compatible as far as the older lines are concerned), and saw all the things we had to see. Had great food too. Spent the night at the hotel (it was wild in the area until the wee hours of the morning) and decided to go see the last things to see on Sunday morning before heading back to the airport. Go figure, again we were the target of pickpockets and by the time I had felt someone touch my pocket and put my hand to protect my wallet (they had opened the button already!), they popped the doors and jumped out of the metro having left mum's bag's zipper opened and stolen a purse. Fortunately we were careful and that purse contained only 20€ and a few pictures and useless fidelity cards. I don't want to imagine the hassle if someone's ID, credit cards, and more value was stolen. It is definitely a plague for this city and I think the authorities ought to do something about it. Anyway, we cooled off and continued our trip with maximum care and decided to fetch our bags from the hotel and head for the airport's hopefully safer after customs area. We put mum's bag in the locked roller suitcase and I put my wallet in an inside pocket on my heart.
Sun Jan 13: MAD-CRL FR5464 B738 EI-DWI / 7A
On time priority boarding at the airbridge, we sat in 7A & B. The crew was Spanish and a bit less friendly than the crew we had on the inbound, but efficient as always. Bought drinks, and got aroused by the Ryanair lottery, I want to read more about this before my next flight. Especially that these 2€ tickets entitle you to a 7.5€ discount on your next booking. We took off on time after a long tour of MAD from T1 to T4 then T4A then what I think I recall as RWY36 taking off Northbound. 1h50 minutes later we landed early in CRL at 17:35 instead of our STA of 18:10. Swiftly got out the plane using the stairs, 3 other FR B738s were standing at the apron, as many as in MAD when we left from there.
We saw the new terminal from the road too. It was illuminated in rotating colors and looks like 2 times as big as the old one. It was inaugurated by HRH Prince Philippe on Saturday and will be open for traffic starting Jan. 29. I wonder how people will come and go from there however since it is located on the other end and on the other side of the runway. Will people be bussed, will people have to know if they go for T1 or T2 and use different shuttles? One wonders. I'm actually glad to be avoiding it for now and to be able to plan for travel once it's been in use for a short while.
Paid parking, got on the shuttle bus, found the car, and so 30 mins after landing we were already on the road again.
A nice flight experience and very good value for money. Ryanair delivers when things go right, I wonder how it is when things get out of hand. According to their inflight magazine they go wrong less often than with others but that remains to be seen and experienced.
Madrid is a very nice city for a weekend break, up to 2 nights I would say. But anyone must be extremely cautious with them pickpockets. Don't give them a chance because they'll hit you without you noticing.
Ndebele From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 2897 posts, RR: 24 Reply 1, posted (5 years 11 months 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 2999 times:
Nice report! How does Planehunter say in his signature? "Nothing is worse than flying the same registration twice". Anyway, you didn't seem to mind about that (neither would I). Interesting to read about the window shades, I didn't know about that. I guess you'll have the opportunity to compare the differnce between Ryanair's 737s when taking your next flights. Looking forward to reading more reports soon.
BrusselsSouth From Belgium, joined Aug 2001, 609 posts, RR: 5 Reply 3, posted (5 years 11 months ago) and read 2545 times:
Thanks for this concice but good report, describing the typical Ryanair experience (at least, the typical experience when all goes well...).
This January, I'm booked on several Ryanair and Brussels Airlines flights, with the sole purpose of making a comparison between both experiences, and also between the "old" and "new" Charleroi airport (I'm booked on the very first flight departing the new terminal on January 29th). Yesterday I flew CRL - CIA - STN - CRL on FR and had an experience similar to yours (all flights on time if not early), but I parked my car in the front park (just before the terminal entrance) instead of the long term park. I plan to write a report on this site when all my flights are completed (early February).
Quoting BrightCedars (Thread starter): We saw the new terminal from the road too. It was illuminated in rotating colors and looks like 2 times as big as the old one. It was inaugurated by HRH Prince Philippe on Saturday and will be open for traffic starting Jan. 29. I wonder how people will come and go from there however since it is located on the other end and on the other side of the runway. Will people be bussed, will people have to know if they go for T1 or T2 and use different shuttles? One wonders. I'm actually glad to be avoiding it for now and to be able to plan for travel once it's been in use for a short while.
When the new terminal opens, the old one will be closed to passengers traffic (its future use is not clear at the moment), so there will be no such thing as T1 and T2, and shuttles won't be needed anymore since a new, big car park has been built close to the new terminal, with the capacity of all the old car parks combined. As for access, a new network of roads has been built to reach the new terminal, as well as a new highway exit on the R3 (Charleroi outer ring). Signage is already in place, but it's hidden by black tape until the opening.
Thanks again for sharing your experience (nice signature btw...)
Thanks for that question. It brings me to mention something. Both times when boarding the aircraft we were instructed to sit beyond row 4. I didn't find any logic to that, unless it provides for a more economical center of gravity for take-off and landing or any other economical/scientific reason.
In both cases, the plane was about full beyond row 4, on the return leg they even had to allow some people to sit in these rows for lack of remaining space at the back.
BrusselsSouth From Belgium, joined Aug 2001, 609 posts, RR: 5 Reply 5, posted (5 years 10 months 4 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 2534 times:
Quoting BrightCedars (Reply 4): Both times when boarding the aircraft we were instructed to sit beyond row 4. I didn't find any logic to that, unless it provides for a more economical center of gravity for take-off and landing or any other economical/scientific reason.
Ryanair (and probably some other airlines ?) does that all the time when the flights are not full (happened on 6 of my flights with them, especially during the winter when load factors are not so good), for center of gravity reasons. For instance, on all my flights yesterday, we were instructed to sit between rows 7 and 29.
Sevenair From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2001, 1728 posts, RR: 0 Reply 7, posted (5 years 10 months 3 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 2310 times:
Yeah - by having the C.G. as close to optimum means you dont have to correct using trim - reducing trim drag - and reducing the need for thrust. Meaning less fuel is burned, the engines don't work as hard, and it keeps the eco-terrorists happy too, as you output less CO2. The savings are minimal, but they all add up when you have 150 planes, flying up to 10 flights a day.