lukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1185 posts, RR: 31 Posted (5 years 9 months 1 week 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 14173 times:
Hi there and welcome to my second trip report....
Although a small disclaimer – if you’re expecting a plush report full of beautiful full-service carriers and delicately set out meal-trays then you may want to press the ‘back’ button. This is purely the experiences of one passenger onboard the world’s busiest international airlines... and according to claims the one with the best customer service. We’ll see.
First of all I wouldn’t normally elect to write a TR for FR. Why? Well let’s put it this way – would you write a trip report if you took the bus into the town centre? Probably not... although of course some people like buses alot. It begs the question – how different to taking bus is taking an FR flight? I’m unfortunate enough to live in the world headquarters of the First Group so I will make some comparisons.
Bus .................................. FR flight
Price ............... £1.60 / £0.01
Seat ................. Uncomfortable (2x2) / Uncomfortable (3x2)
Staff............... Rude and often non-native / Rude and often non-native
Distance............ 3 miles / 1022 miles
Check-in time.............. 10 minutes / 30 minutes
Soon one thing becomes quite apparent.... Ryanair is not like taking a bus really... because unlike plodding down Union St on a rickety double decker – you are going through the wonderful experience of flying – the thrill of the take-off and arriving in somewhere very exotic or foreign, that feeling of distance and movement. Not Culter in Aberdeen. So despite the dissonant opinions of my friends, going away on an FR day trip is an ultimate experience for me. It’s a cheat exploration really...
So it was early summer when I did my usual peruse of the FR website. It’s all changed nowadays - £4 is the lowest fare now that O’Leary has changed the tack and begun returning investment to the shareholders as a result of Boeing and Airbuses respected resilience to the FR negotiation mystery. So – 1 p was the sale fare back last year after I had done my exams. Being up ‘north’ in Scotland means that flying with FR takes a little more studying to get exciting routes... Charleroi isn’t my cup of tea.
Eventually I settle on an itinerary out to BTS due to some new flights opened up into EDI. EDI – quickly turning into an FR strong-hold after many years of resisting FR’s Irish charms – has blossomed into quite a base and has quickly begun to outshine Prestwick (not a tricky task).
Flight booked: it came to an extraordinary £1.53 for 3 flights. (£1.50 of that being an exchange rate on the card).
My day of flight begun the night before on the 16th of June as unusual. I went out for pints with my buddies to Glasgow Union. At a little past midnight I made my excuses that I had to get back to my sister’s flat and left a little woozy with an inner smile for my exciting journey about to unfold – while my friends thought I was trotting off to my sisters.
I get to Central Station – a quite attractive Victorian station in Glasgow that sees its fair share of mooching moshers and neds waiting for their various pals. When I arrive it’s full of straggler boozers stumbling home early.
Catching the last train towards Ayr
Showing my flight ticket I get my ticket for half price out to Prestwick – a concession widely protested by GLA. The train links Prestwick perfectly to the centre and travels down the Ayrshire coast in a little over 40 minutes. When I arrive at the airport I try to sneak into the Prayer room (seldom used and I’ll make a token mumble). However a security man sees me and checks in on me. I am resigned to the bowels of pik terminal. Pik – well I’ll give you a short description as I am pretty sure I have not seen a TR on this interesting little Scottish airport. (I’ll make it clear at this stage that the k button on my laptop is broken – so although I can paste it, it does mean I can’t use the capital form. Please excuse this!)
Prestwick used to be Scotland main international airport in the golden age of aviation. In 1991 BAA moves to the new GLA. It led to a dramatic period of decline for the run-down PIk. Fortune favours the brave – and after the millennium FR announced some healthy expansion at Prestwick and launched it as the new low-cost base in Scotland. You may know PIk for an eccentric and humorous advertising campaign, some quite exciting freight movements, Elvis stepping on Scottish soil, And Bush stopping traffic on a road to land his jets at the airport during G8 summit. By the end of this report you might also know it as a totally ill-prepared airport full of some of the most ignorant and utilitarian airport staff I have ever had the misfortune of meeting.
I find some good seats in arrivals hall with no arm rests and after the grumpy old cleaner goat is satisfied the plastic flooring is sufficiently clean, I am finally allowed to get a little shut-eye. I take this silly photo in aid of sleepinginairports.com but shall include it here.
Snoozing on the quite comfortable seats in Prestwick
I don’t get particular good nights sleep – but airports aren’t hotels so I am unfazed. I check departures and head through past the glum security agent. Prestwick has a tedious conga line of security cordons. Empty and frustrating during previous visits but this morning it is horribly busy. Really horribly busy... it is moving so slowly and only one security point is open. Prestwick had a publicised set of cut-backs as a result of the credit crunch and FR’s gradual down-scaling of operations.
The morning rush
It shows; despite having my liquids (toothpaste) in a transparent BAA bag the horrible, horrible old lady at security with army haircut and scowling face says.
Disorganised and chaotic security hall
Into an even busier and more unpleasant departure cattle-field
“Its no the right wan son – go get another” and blithely points to a little sweet dispenser machine charging £2 for three plastic bags in a kinder egg. Naturally I am pissed off having brought the BAA bag. This is a feeble capitalisation attempt by PIk and it’s disgusting. I give my two spare bags to some unsuspecting foreigners also getting the Royal treatment from the woman. It makes me ashamed that she is giving Scotland a bag name to departing international visitors with that disgusting attitude.
Finally through the departures – it is teeming. Utterly teeming and with the usual louts downing pints of Tennants in the minging bar. It’s just the worst airside airport. No windows, a tacky souvenir store, some 1980s games arcade and some pongy toilets. Our flight gets called and everyone rushes up... We walk a couple of metres and then have to wait in a dingy and damp corridor for 10 minutes. Finally we walk into the drizzle of the tarmac and board the FR plane.
In the dingy corridor during boarding
The bird ready for a busy days service
The old and shoddy terminal building at Prestwicc
It’s very cold and uncomfortable onboard and the crew are Scottish but peroxide blonde and utterly rude. We pushback on time and I get scolded for having my camera one whilst taxiing. Slut...
Pulling onto a wet runway at 6am
We bundle down the runway and launch into the airport for the 320 mile hop to STN. The skies are clear and I sleep mostly. At STN we are out into the terminal quickly and I head to the bus station to pick up a copy of the Metro.
After a snooze we land at STN
Eastern Europe still holds alot of appeal for me. Despite murmurings from many people, it is a beautiful part of the world and still a little bit more affordable than some of the Western European offerings out of STN. You know I love just jetting out to somewhere with no hang-ups, no pretences and just enjoying the trip. All I was looking for was a good cheap beer really. STN is busy but security is quick and efficient and friendly. Through in departures I humour myself with the Oyster Bar menu and continue on my merry-way picking up a Pret-a-manger.
At the gate I have to queue a little for the FR flight which bounces into the gate exactly 20 minutes before departure.
The stairs of EI-DAK extend like alien fingers onto the tarmac
The flight on this run are friendly and efficient making the whole experience lovely. We hold as some FR’s glide into STN and then we are offski.
Holding still........ for whom?
We head out over the South of England on this clearing day
Over a sea of clouds
I sleep most of the way which is always a plus and awake as we descend across very lush landscape. I am excited as the bus collects us and takes us to the new looking BTS terminal. Passport is slow and a bit soviet but the Information point is helpful and gives me a map and a little advice.
Coming into land over a lush Slovakia
In a sea of interesting – but small – planes
The modern-frontage of BTS looks flashing in the sun
After deboarding onto the bus
I hop on a 60 p public bus and then tram into town. It’s all easy and nice.
And then a tram into the centre
My day in Bratislava
Bratislava is a gem. A true gem. Having set the standards quite high with BUD I wasn’t expecting too much. However the city was bustling and alive with loved up citizens, trams tinging through town and the sun shining down brightly. I meander through the town and admire the architecture which is pretty impressive outside of the sovietesque concrete metropolis opposite the Danube. I get to a student pub and order a very nice beer (feeling a little self-conscious being solo today). However the price comes back at 60p which relaxes the mood a little. I head to a bus station down by the Danube and hop on the public bus towards - well I can’t quite remember what it was called. It’s a 20 minute bus away and on the banks of the Danube. It was truly glorious and I bathed so happily in the sun as I watched long vessels struggle against the strong river current on their way up to Budapest... it was like overtakes in slow motion.
Bratislava’s hidden arty quirk
Only 1 b/w sneaks in on this report
Boats struggling around the corner towards Budapest
Eventually I had to bite the bullet – and a swooning couple were making me feel a little queasy – and headed back on the public bus. At the terminus I found a great little place doing cheap and cheerful Pivo in plastic glasses. I indulged in a good few pints and some snacks and sat in the dying rays of the sun watching the various goings on.
The bus back
The great little beer shop
What its advertised as
I mostly always take a photo of the British embassy in whichever city I am in. Silly habit...
There was another one but I couldn’t find it!
A surprisingly cosmopolitan feel in Bratislava old-town
Main street heading to airport
I hope Bratislava does well in the future. It’s a truly charming city. On the walk back to the tram-station I enjoy the quirky statues hidden in curious places.
I nip into Tesco for some ad-hoc picnic stuff.... I mean I detest Tesco at the best of times – I find it the FR of the food world, but am glad to see it here as I pick up some reasonable Pivo.
I arrive at the airport as the sun is setting and enjoy my beer on the lawn whilst listening to the aircraft activity on the other side. Eventually I head in 30 minutes prior to departure.
The airport is magnificent but security is taking a little longer than normal due to some elderly Slovaks and by the time I get through my flight is shown as closing. A nice couple let me nip past them which was awfully good of them. It is quite a rush to the plane and across the Tarmac but I’m onboard safely and on at my favourite night-flight seat – 1A.
A DIY effort of getting to out beautiful a/c
Crew is good and friendly and the F/D comes on to explain one passenger has not made it to the a/c. After alot of kafuffle it is decided that the passenger will be admitted as to take the bags of would take longer. A rugged looking student sheepishly arrives at the door and the safety demo once again performed.
Waiting for out missing student
The feet of the FR dragons... I enjoyed eavesdropping during the flight.
The flight to EDI is superb with a thoroughly satisfying take-off. The view is Ok but I am a little tired and mostly sleep. Despite leaving 10 minutes late we make it in on time. As usual with FR international arrivals at EDI – we are bussed to the passport control.
The buses waiting on the ground – a light night in EDI
It is busy but I am soon out for the walk to Ratho Filling Station where I had aimed to take the 900 Citylink service to Glasgow. However a Murrayfield Rugby game is causing hell, along with the fact that every Citylink buses passes overtaking in the outside lane of the dual-carriage. I am furious after waiting 2 hours in the cold for a bus and a kind Slovakian invites me to share a taxi back. It costs £120 and the man won’t take a single penny but I negotiate the taxi down to £80.00.
Its 2am before I get to my girlfriends flat. Sigh...
So there it was. One of my FR adventures. It was an excellent day and FR where bang ontime with all flights. Superb with prices... I mean a world-leader in prices. But what let it all down was Prestwick and those horrid security staff. They set me off in a bad mood which didn’t perk up will I got the bill for my Pivo. Bratislava is excellent too and the airport easily accessible. I will not hesitate to be back in the future.
Anyway. I hope you enjoyed this little TR. I realise that budget airlines don’t make the most thrilling reading experiences but I hope that wonderful BTS makes up for that.
ps76 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (5 years 9 months 1 week 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 13832 times:
Just to say many thanks for the report/pics etc. I have also been to Bratislava with Ryanair twice and it was my first time in Eastern Europe and I loved the place. The first time I went there was a Christmas market on too and the streets were packed but in a good way with people all drinking mulled wine. Those trams are awesome too. I asked the guy in the tourist office if there was anywhere good to take a tram to and he just looked at me like I was nuts so undeterred I took whatever tram came along. Was very cool and went to this place called Polus shopping centre which is this big indoor shopping centre in Bratislava which is really nice. Another plus being a smoker is that in a few places you can still smoke indoors in Bratislava, that and the fact that there haven't been too many tourists when I was there. Plus everything's cheap and the beer is good. Glad you had a good time there, I certainly did. Cool that Ryanair weren't too bad either, I normally find their crew pretty decent and even though I don't normally buy anything on board anymore it's still a good flight and you still get to ride in a very nice 737-800 with winglets.
Many thanks for the memories and the pics etc. Look forward to more FR adventures(!)
AI151 From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2009, 303 posts, RR: 14
Reply 3, posted (5 years 9 months 1 week 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 13573 times:
Hey dude a great 2nd TR involving FR. BTS looks like a wonderful city riched in history as most of the buildings suggest so. It reminds me in some ways of central Prague.
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter): Although a small disclaimer – if you’re expecting a plush report full of beautiful full-service carriers and delicately set out meal-trays then you may want to press the ‘back’ button.
That is very cramped. Surely that must be against health and safety regulations!
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter): “Its no the right wan son – go get another” and blithely points to a little sweet dispenser machine charging £2 for three plastic bags in a kinder egg. Naturally I am pissed off having brought the BAA bag.
A total rip-off!
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter): We pushback on time and I get scolded for having my camera one whilst taxiing. Slut...
Oh yes... my foot-fettish has reared its ugly head... The FA/s were pretty nice on this run though!
Quoting AI151 (Reply 3): Next time you're doing one of these trips from London give me a shout as I'll gladly tag along seeing as I don't prefer travelling by myself.
I certainly will... they always seems to be at odd times but if you can cope with that then all the better. As a rule I try to avoid London as other routes are most interesting when going direct to PIK or EDI. However! When I do I will PM..
AI151 From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2009, 303 posts, RR: 14
Reply 7, posted (5 years 9 months 1 week 2 days ago) and read 13050 times:
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 6): I certainly will... they always seems to be at odd times but if you can cope with that then all the better. As a rule I try to avoid London as other routes are most interesting when going direct to PIK or EDI. However! When I do I will PM..
Cheers dude, let me know in advance and if I can get time off work then I will go. Travelling to PIK or EDI won't be a problem for me as I work on the railway so won't be that expensive.
MIAspotter From Spain, joined Nov 2001, 3009 posts, RR: 23
Reply 8, posted (5 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 12867 times:
Nice report, brought back lots of memories when I went to Bratislava in early April as a daytrip from Vienna (I am a bit poshier than you since I flew on OS )
I also loved the place, when I arrived at the main station and stepped outside to old trams and beat up bendy buses I thought to myself "WTF?" but I just started walking and found it very nice, a very charming city.
I wanted to ride on one of the really old trams but alas the one that showed up was the new-ish ones.
Anyways, thank you for sharing and hope to read more from ya.
signol From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2007, 3084 posts, RR: 7
Reply 10, posted (5 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 12517 times:
Nice report, brings back some memories of a visit there a few years ago.
I took the Orient Express (the real one! the SNCF night train Paris - Vienna), then had a couple of days in BTS. Actually, it was the only time ever my Ryanair flight was cancelled, due to the airport being closed due to fog (despite their website saying they have CATIII installed). So I was booked onto the flight the next evening, and spent the next 2 days there. I ended up enjoying those 2 days more than the previous 2, mainly due to meeting a couple of backpackers in the hostel (an Indian guy and and Israeli guy) so we went out and had some beers together!
Keep up the good reports
Quoting AI151 (Reply 3): Next time you're doing one of these trips from London give me a shout as I'll gladly tag along seeing as I don't prefer travelling by myself.
Maybe start a thread to post whenever anyone is planning on a day's flying to see if anyone else is interested?! I do the occasional FR daytrip from STN myself!
FlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 26
Reply 12, posted (5 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 12420 times:
Great report on some good value-for-money things: FR flights and Slovakian beer .
I went to Bratislava twice in 2004, those pictures bring back a lot of memories of this hidden gem of a city - I certainly hope it stays that way and doesn't turn into such a tourist trap and bachelor/hen party hell as Prague, Budapest, Tallinn, Riga etc. are turning. I haven't flown to BTS, though, on both occasions I did the bus from VIE airport - very convenient as well. I think I should go back sometime soon, to try Danubewings...
Your experiences wih FR show how most flight experiences actually boil down to the crew onboard - even FR can be quite charming with the right set of crew, or like your PIK-STN flight it can be just horrible is the crew is disinterested, rude and not up to their job...
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter): EDI – quickly turning into an FR strong-hold after many years of resisting FR’s Irish charms – has blossomed into quite a base and has quickly begun to outshine Prestwick (not a tricky task).
Yep, I was surprised to learn that they serve over 40 destinations ex-EDI while reading the latest FR inflight mag.
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter): I head to a bus station down by the Danube and hop on the public bus towards - well I can’t quite remember what it was called.
The Devlin Castle, right by the Danube and Austrian, Slovakian and Czech borders. A very nice place, my and my then girlfriend got scorched there during a hot day in August 2004 . The beer there was even cheaper than the already cheap beer in the city!
vandenheuvel From Netherlands, joined Dec 2008, 516 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (5 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 12306 times:
Quoting Vasu (Reply 9): I did pretty much the same as you earlier this year, except I spent one night here:
Hi Vasu, your right about that hotel, It's really recommendable. Not the greatest service but they give you some great soviet experience indeed. I've made tons of photos of the rooms, reception, restaurant, bar, elevators and corridors. It was that great. I also liked the fact that you had to shower on you knees, as the ceiling wasn't high enough They have the hottest staffmembers too.
airpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 977 posts, RR: 24
Reply 14, posted (5 years 9 months 1 week 23 hours ago) and read 12122 times:
Oh wow. I love this trip report. Seriously. Rest assured this isn't a I-should-be-nice-because-he-spent-the-last-ten-and-a-half-months-laboring-over-this-thing type of compliment but hell, it's amazing! Thank you for keeping me in stitches - my Balinese masseuse, the supreme guardian of all wellness, says it's good for me to escape the shackles of "plush reports full of beautiful full-service carriers and delicately set out meal-trays" (can't imagine where she got that from). She is also rather intrigued - since I tell her everything, and she's highly analytical - that your share of the taxi fare to Glasgow is the equivalent of another 26.14 beer-tasting trips to Bratislava by FR. Still, she is impressed with your haggling skills and says you'd do really well in the more remote parts of Asia.
Quoting MIAspotter (Reply 8): tepped outside to old trams and beat up bendy buses I thought to myself "WTF?"
Yes - I love this feeling. It feels like the feeling you should get when you fly... sometimes Europe becomes a little 'unsurprising' so this is always good. I'd guess the closest you can get to Russia without a visa!
Quoting Vasu (Reply 9): VERY interesting and cheap Soviet experience - give it a go if you venture back!
I will venture back for sure... I will definately bare that in mind. I am getting a little bit tired of mad rush day trips as so often I just begin to love a city and its back off to the airport... A night can seal the deal.
Quoting signol (Reply 10): Nice report, brings back some memories of a visit there a few years ago.
Thanks - I am impressed by how many visitors Bratislava gets.... very encouraging
Quoting signol (Reply 10): mainly due to meeting a couple of backpackers in the hostel (an Indian guy and and Israeli guy) so we went out and had some beers together!
Backpackers... a constant source of interest!
Quoting staralliance38 (Reply 11): Wow! All for .01 pounds a flight?! Very interesting. Bratislava looks cool. I would love to travel to some Eastern European cities soon.
Yes you should absolutely give some a try. My personal favorite is still BUD but it gets a little touristy. Praha is hyped up!
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 12): Great report on some good value-for-money things: FR flights and Slovakian beer
Thanks FF. Thats all I ask for in life - value! Ignoring the final beer, Slovakian beers was a revalation of quality
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 12): certainly hope it stays that way and doesn't turn into such a tourist trap and bachelor/hen party hell as Prague, Budapest, Tallinn, Riga etc. are turning.
Yes, its a bit annoying that these places get marred by this industry... You keep having to go further east I find. Lviv is one city I would love to visit.
Of course... they have the capacity to make it heaven or hell. I always wonder why some of these crew even choose the job, if you don't like dealing wtih customers don't be an FA! But its a mixed bag - I mean out of Scotland bases I have had total dogs, but also some of the most pleasant crew...
Airpear... what an honour to have a glowing review from such a fine wordsmith as yourself.
Quoting airpearl (Reply 14): my Balinese masseuse, the supreme guardian of all wellness, says it's good for me to escape the shackles of "plush reports full of beautiful full-service carriers and delicately set out meal-trays"
Indeed- you'de be living in cloud cuckoo if you didn't get grounded by the occassional budget/ US carrier report. For Europe its fine, but anything longer and I'll take a good airline... Balinese masseuse - how charming! My most perfect massage was from a beautiful beautiful young girl in a Kuta backstreet. being only 19 I fell instantly in love. I went back the next day but got given a rougher diamond. But the other girl poked her head in... They are delicate masters at their trade.
Quoting airpearl (Reply 14): that your share of the taxi fare to Glasgow is the equivalent of another 26.14 beer-tasting trips to Bratislava by FR
She is quite right. Its always a little upsetting when you get caught out in the UK and have to take emergency measures. I try to never use taxis as a golden rule. UK especially, but even abroad. Public transport is so much more of an eyeopener
Quoting airpearl (Reply 14): he is impressed with your haggling skills and says you'd do really well in the more remote parts of Asia
Thank her! I am gracious... Haggling, yes, I have had a little bit of practising this in the Philippines, Indonesia etc. But the skills were perfected in India where I think in 3 months not one single person gave me the correct price. I'm in two minds... its great to be able to haggle ( and I wish you could do it in the UK!) but then it can be exhausting... thats why I liked Malaysia... you didn't have to battle for everything!
Quoting AlexEU (Reply 5): Is there a high low-cost demand between UK and Slovakia? Were most of the pax British tourists or Slovaks?
I forgot to answer your question Alex - yes there is a low-cost demand and this is mostly through eastern europe workers seeking employment/ study in the UK. That makes up the most traffic, but also leisure people too. Almost all passengers were Slovaks. Backpackers have started using FR quite alot too for better mobility... cheaper than the train!
You don't see heels like that much nowadays... oh, don't we all.
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter): Bratislava is excellent too and the airport easily accessible. I will not hesitate to be back in the future.
I've always fancied Bratislava and on your word, I think I will seriously consider this next time I fancy a jaunt off somewhere.
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter): Anyway. I hope you enjoyed this little TR. I realise that budget airlines don’t make the most thrilling reading experiences but I hope that wonderful BTS makes up for that.
They don't but your witty humour and writing style more than make up for the fact you're flying ultra-low-cost.
Thanks once again for posting, Can't wait for your next write up.
gabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3736 posts, RR: 9
Reply 21, posted (5 years 9 months 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 10930 times:
I don't know why you put yourself though the misery of FR. PIK looked revolting. Bratislava is a very nice place. I remember seeing that house with the painted windows - was it near the cathedral? I had an amazing steak in town for about a fiver years ago (2005?!) - quite fancy a trip back. Was £120 for the taxi to Glasgow on the metre? Ridiculous!
No it wasn't on the meter. We talked heatedly for many minutes about putting it on the meter. Personally I thought it was illegal not to in the UK. He said it was simply a standard price, late-night for a taxi. Again, I try to avoid taxi's whereever possible!