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Day Tripping: 3 Flights, 3 Countries, Many Pics  
User currently offlineBZNPilot From Belgium, joined Feb 2006, 261 posts, RR: 1
Posted (2 years 10 months 1 week 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 8180 times:



Dear A.Netters,

Welcome to my twenty-first trip report, which covers my recent daytrip on Ryanair from Brussels-Charleroi to Stockholm-Skavsta to Venice-Treviso and back to Belgium. Let me say this right up front—I know Ryanair is often criticized and I know this trip report cannot hope to match other reports on more exotic or luxurious carriers. Nonetheless, I hope to offer an interesting account of my travels and some good wing views captured by my camera. After all, flying is flying, no matter the carrier, and in my opinion, it is always an incredible experience. As always, comments and feedback are greatly appreciated.

BACKGROUND

To begin, I would like to explain why this trip was important to me. For those who want to skip straight to the action, feel free to scroll down a couple of paragraphs.

For me, this trip was more symbolic than anything—it was a journey of celebration and liberation. As a non-EU citizen who had moved to Brussels in the summer of 2010, I had spent the six months prior to this trip undergoing the bureaucracy and uncertainty associated with gaining Belgian residency. Although I appreciate the fact that I am even eligible for a Belgian residency permit in the first place, which I sought on the basis of “family reunification,” it was not easy. In particular, once I had entered the process, I was not allowed to leave the physical territory of Belgium—not even to travel to other Schengen countries, despite the fact that border checks are, in principle, no longer conducted. In fact, even a trip to neighboring France—in the event that I would have been carded there for whatever reason—would have been considered tantamount to abandoning my application for Belgian residency. The most frustrating aspect of the whole ordeal was the incompetency of the authorities and the difficulty of getting a clear answer about my rights. In the end, I found out by seeking the advice of a lawyer, through my own research and by piecing together the limited and often conflicting information I did receive from the authorities, that I had no freedom-of-movement rights while my case was pending. Again, let me say that I am happy for even having the chance to gain residency in Belgium; in the U.S. and almost all EU countries other than Belgium, the law is not as generous for cases like mine. I am only saying that in contrast to the relative generosity of Belgian law, the people at the administrative level made it a very difficult experience.

Unfortunately, all of this meant that my girlfriend and I had to cancel our plans to attend a very important family event in Hawaii in November—a trip we had been looking forward to for nearly a year and that meant a great deal for personal reasons. After carefully considering all possibilities, I decided that, although I could have risked it and gone on that trip anyway, there would have been a distinct possibility of being “caught” upon leaving and/or re-entering the Schengen area. What would have happened is unknown, but what could have happened in a worst-case scenario is that l could have received a deportation stamp, been forced to give up my residency application and potentially been blacklisted from the Schengen zone. The bottom line was that I could not risk it. I had to remain captive until my status was finalized.

The months dragged on as I watched my girlfriend—a French citizen not subject to the same residency process as I—travel near and far for work and pleasure. She enjoys traveling and I was happy for her, although I was admittedly envious of her freedom to move around.

As winter began to turn to spring, however, I started to see signs that my residency process was moving forward. I received a summons from the authorities to appear at city hall. I signed papers, received (yet more) stamps on my documents and was told to return in a few weeks, although at that point I still did not know if and when my permit would be granted. Finally, in the first week of March, the good news came. A few days later, I held my residency card in my hand and breathed a sigh of relief.

After all those months of a relatively stationary existence, I decided a daytrip was an appropriate way to celebrate my new status as a confirmed, legal resident, free to move around. As money was a limiting factor, however, I set my total airfare budget at €100 and knew I could not hope for anything too extravagant—so Ryanair it was. After a great deal of plotting and searching on Ryanair’s tacky yellow website, I managed to piece together a three-flight itinerary that fit within my budget, maximized the amount of flying for the price, and involved enough padding between flights to minimize the risk of missing my next airplane. The departure time from Charleroi was also a relatively comfortable 09:30, while my return at 22:55 allowed enough time to easily make the last bus from Charleroi back to the city of Brussels.

The booking process was fairly straightforward, although of course I had to book each of the three flights individually. Although the taxes and fees at the time of booking quickly added up, I managed to remain under budget, even while paying €4 per flight for priority boarding, which is really not a bad deal in my opinion. Also, unlike most other airlines, one nice aspect of Ryanair’s system is that online check-in is possible up to 15 days in advance of the flight. So, a week before the trip, I checked in online and printed my boarding passes. I held my breath in the final days, hoping not to see a dreaded schedule change or cancellation. No such emails arrived and on the day of my trip, I woke up early, excited to finally be getting back in the air!

FLIGHT 1 OF 3

Date: March 26, 2011
Route: Charleroi Brussels-South (CRL) – Stockholm-Skavsta Nyköping (NYO)
Flight Number: FR9565
Aircraft Type: Boeing 737-8AS (Winglets)
Aircraft Registration: EI-EBI
Scheduled Departure: 09:30 CEST
Actual Takeoff: 09:21 CEST
Scheduled Arrival: 11:30 CEST
Actual Landing: 11:10 CEST
Flight Time: 1:49
Distance: 1,224 km. / 760 mi.
Altitude: Unknown
Seat: 30A (Window)
Load: 95% (All Economy)
My Logbook: 3rd flight on Ryanair / 27th flight on the 737-800/ 273rd airline flight overall

I caught the 06:30 bus from Brussels-Midi station and with such light traffic early in the morning I was standing in front of the Charleroi terminal by 07:15. Although a lot of people in Brussels complain about the distance to Charleroi, especially compared to Brussels’ main airport, I found it to be relatively convenient and quick—in terms of time, certainly no worse than going from Washington, DC to Dulles or from Manhattan to JFK. Before proceeding into the terminal, I took a couple of photos of the early-morning ramp action.


*


Once in the terminal, I quickly located the Ryanair counter; even though I was checked in and did not have luggage, I was required as a non-Schengen passport holder to have the Ryanair agent perform a “visa check” and stamp my boarding pass accordingly. As it turned out, I only had to show my U.S. passport, not my Belgian residency card, and I was quickly on my way. Below is an impression of the terminal at Charleroi—not fancy, but certainly functional and pleasant enough.



I then made my way quickly through security. Once airside, I walked a couple of laps up and down the concourse to check out the local machinery; of course, the scene was dominated by Ryanair.



There was also this slightly more unique version of the standard Ryanair livery sporting the title “Comunitat Valenciana.”



Around 08:45 I made my way to the gate and spied the workhorse waiting to take me to Sweden. Although there is nothing particularly special about a Ryanair 737-800, to a pure aviation enthusiast like me it was still a beautiful sight. I think the crisp white, blue and yellow livery and those sharp winglets make for a good-looking machine.



Despite the massive line forming in the general boarding line, I took my place as the only passenger in the “Priority Q.” When boarding began, I was the first person down the stairs and across the ramp. One way Ryanair reduces cost is to board passengers via airstairs instead of jetbridges—that is just fine by me! No matter the weather, I would rather see my aircraft up close and personal any day over boarding through an ugly hallway.



I climbed the forward airstairs and was the first person to enter the cabin, where I was greeted by a smiling flight attendant. I was excited to have my choice of any seat on the aircraft; left or right, front or back, I had the rare chance to select my idea of a perfect wing view. I made tracks for the rear and found the most appealing spot in seat 30A, a left-side window. It was great to once again be staring out across a wing.



The 30-inch seat pitch on Ryanair is certainly tight, but for a flight of just an hour or two, I have no complaints. Also, of course I noticed the characteristic Ryanair safety card glued to the seatback. Cost reductions aside, I wonder if this method is actually more effective at getting people to pay attention to the safety information; after all, having it right in front of your eyes certainly makes it more conspicuous than having it tucked away in a seat pocket.


*


Once general boarding began, the aircraft quickly filled to near-capacity. During this time one of the pilots gave a welcome announcement (in English only) mentioning that we would be departing to the west, making a right turn after takeoff and that we could expect a flight time of one hour and fifty-five minutes. He also noted that the weather in Nyköping was clear, sunny and cool at -3 degrees Celsius. At 09:15 the doors were sealed and we pushed backward off the stand.



The engines soon hummed to life and, following a short taxi, we reached the threshold of RWY 25.



At 09:21, the brakes were released and we rocketed down the runway. Goodbye Belgium—at least for a few hours!


*


The Boeing climbed powerfully out over the haze above the farm fields before turning to the north toward the city of Brussels.



The ride was silky and smooth as we then entered the flight-levels high above Flanders.



There was quite a lot of other traffic visible in the busy airspace between Brussels and Amsterdam.



As we began to level off, the twin contrails of this British Airways Airbus passed just beneath us en route to the United Kingdom.



The flight attendants soon sprang into action with the food and beverage service, which of course was not free, but nonetheless offered a good selection with more or less acceptable prices.



For €3 I had a coffee with cream, which was a good size and hit the spot nicely.



Meanwhile, we neared the northern coast of the Netherlands, which was visible through the patches of cloud below. After that, we continued to the northeast and out over the North Sea.


*


Just fifteen minutes after losing sight of the Dutch coast, the Danish shoreline came into view at the town of Esbjerg.


*


We then continued northeast over the farmland of the Jutland Peninsula.



A few minutes later we reached the eastern coast of Denmark and proceeded across the Kattegat, the straight of water between northeastern Denmark and southwestern Sweden.



Just off the Danish coast, the island of Læsø appeared in the haze off the left wing.



Immediately thereafter, the Scandinavian mainland came into view as we passed near the Kungsbacka Fjord a few kilometers south of Göteborg, Sweden.



Just a short distance inland, away from the moderating effects of the sea, I noticed that most ponds and lakes were still locked in an icy grip. Most of the snow had melted from many of the larger fields, while still clinging to gullies and wooded areas.


*


We continued to the northeast and soon approached the long outlines of Lake Vättern, one of the largest bodies of water in Sweden.



The next visible landmark was Malmen Airbase, just outside the city of Linköping.



Already well underway with our descent, we then passed just south of Norrköping, the city’s airport visible in the lower-right corner of the next frame.


*


Just a few minutes later, I spied the crossed runways of our destination, Skavsta Airport, as we entered the traffic pattern on the downwind leg for an eventual landing to the west.



Following a 180-degree left turn, we set up on final approach for RWY26.


*

*


The final seconds of the flight were choppy as we swooped over the perimeter fence.



At 11:10 am, the tires smacked the asphalt in one of the hardest landings I have experienced. A few passengers let out audible gasps at the abrupt jolt; however, applause then broke out in the cabin as we decelerated. The concept of cheering upon landing is still strange to me as an American (where clapping in an airplane is rarely done), but I like the idea and always enjoy experiencing it.



Once the aircraft had slowed, we made a sharp right u-turn on the runway before backtracking up the centerline toward the terminal area.



Approaching the low buildings of the terminal with tall pine trees in the background, I had the feeling of being at a small-town airport far from the crowds; in fact, it reminded me a little of arriving at my home airport in Montana. After a short taxi, we reached our parking position at 11:15. The brown, post-snow ground of early spring and the crisp, cold air that soon flooded the cabin added to my feeling of being home in Montana.


*


Once the doors were open and the crowd thinned out, I deplaned through the rear of the aircraft—always my favorite door because it allows more time on the ramp.


*

*


After snapping some photos, I reluctantly made my way inside the terminal. Not having any luggage to retrieve, I proceeded directly landside and then outside to investigate the front of the facility. Also from the front, the airport exuded a comfortable, small-town feeling.



Given that I was in Sweden, even if only for a short time, I had to snap a photo of the blue and yellow flag flapping in the chilly breeze.



I then made my way back into the terminal and found the Ryanair check-in counter. I already had the print-out of my boarding pass, but another “visa check” was necessary. After quickly showing my passport and residency card, I received a stamp on my boarding pass and then proceeded to investigate the rest of check-in hall. Similar to the airport facilities at Charleroi, Skavsta was nothing fancy but it was clean and functional. There was even some nice artwork in the form of a small aircraft hanging from the ceiling.


*


With ample time still to spare until my 13:30 boarding time, I bought a cheap Swedish beer and headed back outside to take in some sun on the patio. These little moments in life can be so nice.



After enjoying the sunshine, crisp air and equally crisp beer, I returned inside and proceeded to the security checkpoint. As FlyingFinn76 pointed out in one of his recent reports ( Bavaria To Finland In 4 Flts: FMM-NYO-GDN-CPH-HEL (by FlyingFinn76 Apr 16 2011 in Trip Reports) ) all hand luggage at Skavsta Airport is weighed just prior to the security screening. I found this very strange, as well, given that I was asked to weigh my small handbag, which came in at just four kilograms. A simple glance at the bag would have told the observer that it could not have weighed much more than that. Never mind, by 12:45 I was through the screening process and into the departures hall with plenty of time to spare until boarding.

FLIGHT 2 OF 3

Date: March 26, 2011
Route: Stockholm-Skavsta Nyköping (NYO) – Venice Treviso (TSF)
Flight #: FR1937
Aircraft Type: Boeing 737-8AS (Winglets)
Aircraft Registration: EI-DAD
Scheduled Departure: 14:00 CEST
Actual Takeoff: 14:15 CEST
Scheduled Arrival: 16:30 CEST
Actual Landing: 16:18 CEST
Flight Time: 2:03
Distance: 1,497 km. / 930 mi.
Altitude: Unknown
Seat: 23F (Window)
Load: 80% (All Economy)
My Logbook: 4th flight on Ryanair / 28th flight on the 737-800 / 274th airline flight overall

Right on time at 12:30, the gate “closed”—which seems to be Ryanair-talk for the beginning of the boarding process. I was the second person in line in the “Priority Q” and, after having my boarding pass scanned at the counter, proceeded through a corridor toward the ramp. However, upon reaching the door that led from the terminal to the outside, I and my fellow priority boarders were stopped by an airport employee. After a full ten minutes, the employee finally opened the door and we proceeded across the ramp toward the aircraft. Having the choice between the front and rear doors of the aircraft, I opted for the rear so as to have a better look at the sturdy Boeing.



As one of the first passengers to enter the aircraft, I again had my choice of seats. This time it was 23F, a right-side window seat—a good place to be for a nice view of both the wing and the scenery below.



I also took advantage of my early boarding privileges to grab a photo across the aisle of the seating cross-section. Yes, it is tight—but in my opinion, still adequate for a short- to medium-haul flight.



As the boarding process continued, this Wizz Air Airbus taxied by, inbound from Gdansk, Poland. I am not so much a fan of the pink and purple paintjob, but I look forward to trying this airline at some point and comparing its low-cost competitiveness to that of Ryanair.



A few minutes before the scheduled departure time of 14:00, the captain made a welcome announcement and informed us that our departure would be delayed by ten to fifteen minutes due to a revised slot clearance from air traffic control. He also mentioned that our flight-time was expected to be two hours and fifteen minutes and that nice weather was awaiting us upon arrival at Venice-Treviso.

At 14:08, the aircraft pushed back from the stand, the nose turned to the east, the tail to the west. The twin turbofans revved to life and we began the short taxi out to RWY26. Along the way we passed the Wizz Air A320, now parked on the stand.


*


I also caught a glimpse of these two Q400 turboprops, clearly SAS but now stripped of their identities.



At 14:15 we took to RWY26 and, without pause, began a lumbering takeoff roll. We accelerated past the cross-runway (34/16) before lifting into the clear Swedish sky. Flying is a phenomenon occurring all the time and experienced by millions upon millions of people—but it never ceases to amaze me.


*

*

*

*


Continuing west-southwest, the town of Norrköping and its adjacent airport appeared—the same view I had seen a few hours earlier during the descent.



After Norrköping we made a left turn toward the south and climbed into the higher flight levels. I gazed out the window watching the many icy lakes slip by below.


*


Thirty minutes into the flight, the food and beverage service commenced. Having not eaten anything at Skavsta Airport, and curious to try Ryanair’s buy onboard food product, I decided to treat myself to lunch. I opted for a cheeseburger for €5 and a Pepsi for another €1.80. The only other time I had eaten a cheeseburger on an airplane was on Alaska Airlines several years ago, and that burger was definitely better than this Ryanair fabrication. Still, the Ryanair version was edible enough and strangely hit the spot. Perhaps things taste better in the air than they normally would on the ground? For the record, the flight attendant was very polite, helpful and efficient in providing the service.



We continued south, eventually leaving the semi-frozen mainland of Scandinavia in exchange for the blue of the Baltic Sea. There was quite a lot of ship activity in the waters below.



After a short crossing of the sea, we made landfall over the German island of Rügen. Shortly after spotting the coast, I spied the city of Stralsund joining Rügen to the German mainland. I have been there before, but it was nearly ten years ago—it is amazing how time flies.


*


Continuing southbound over eastern Germany, a layer of cloud quickly built beneath the wing.


*


With my views of the landscape obscured by a monotonous white blanket, I passed the time reading. I also toyed a little with the camera while focusing on the sleek blended winglet slicing away outside my window.



At one point I also got up to use the lavatory. Despite the fact that these Ryanair aircraft spend most of their time in the air, often filled to the brim with 189 passengers, the facilities were clean and adequately stocked. This was a contrast to one of my recent experiences on Brussels Airlines, when I encountered a nasty bar of soap stuck to the metal surface next to the stick. There is plenty of room to criticize Ryanair for any number of cheap practices; but there are also examples where Ryanair does offer a better product than the competition (including so-called mainline carriers)—and not just because of the low fares.



I did, however, find this sign amusing. I wonder what “federal law” they’re referring to on a Ryanair flight from Sweden to Italy? And funny how the fine is listed in terms of U.S. dollars. Fear not, desperate smokers, it is not as bad as it looks—$2,200 is just €1,660 at the moment—so go ahead and indulge yourselves.  

Once back in my seat, and a few hundred kilometers down the airways, the flight attendants came through the aisle offering yet another beverage service. At this point I had the urge for something hot, so I ordered a cup of tea for €3. The service was again very friendly and professional.



As we neared the Alps—which was the part of the flight I was most looking forward to—the skies began to clear enough to reveal some ground below, along with this contrail arcing through the air beneath our wing.



Shortly before commencing the descent, one of the pilots came on the intercom with what seemed to be a lengthy and detailed message. Unfortunately, his voice was so quiet (or the audio was so low) that I barely understood a word. Never mind, soon I had my first glimpse of the Alps through the broken clouds.



The Dolomites then revealed themselves from below, looking absolutely spectacular. It had been nearly twelve years since I was last in those particular mountains—great memories.


*

*

*


As we continued our glide toward Venice, the cloud cover returned, obscuring the flatter lands on the southern side of the Alps. A little bit of spoiler slowed us noticeably as we maneuvered for approach before dropping into the clouds.


*


We soon emerged in grey skies over the farm fields west of Venice Treviso Airport, while the flaps began dropping in increments from the trailing edge.


*


The weather was not spectacular in Treviso on this day, but the approach was silky smooth as we glided the final seconds toward the runway.


*

*


We touched down nicely on RWY07 at 16:18 after two hours and three minutes on the wing from Sweden.



As we slowed to a taxi, the Ryanair “early arrival song” burst through the audio system followed by a recorded voice letting us know that we had, indeed, arrived early and that Ryanair is the best airline in Europe in this regard. It is a little cheesy, yes, but mildly amusing—I bet the flight attendants and frequent Ryanair flyers get sick of it though.

We turned off the runway and, just three minutes after touching down, came to a stop on the parking stand at 16:21. Similar to Brussels-Charleroi and Stockholm-Skavsta earlier in the day, a Wizz Air Airbus was within eyesight.


*

*


I deplaned from the rear of the aircraft and enjoyed the views from the ramp, lingering a little too long before being told by an airport employee to continue to the terminal.


*

*

*


Once inside the terminal, I decided to relax a little and enjoy one of those things Italy is best known for—coffee! It was not the best I have ever had, but was decent nonetheless.



Next, I headed outside to see the terminal from the front.


*


The weather was not the best and I did not feel like walking around the neighborhood by the airport, so I went back inside to see what else I could find. As it turned out, I found a cold, crisp beer. In addition to its Swedish counterpart during my time at Skavsta, this Peroni constituted the next step in my day trip of beer tasting. I sipped my beverage while looking out the windows at the curb in front of the building.


*


After finishing my beer, I moved on to the Ryanair check-in counter to have yet another “visa check.” The agent was not particularly friendly and barely uttered a word. Nonetheless, I soon had my stamp and was on my way through security. The check-in area, like the rest of the facility, was not fancy, but was modern, clean and functional.



I arrived airside with still an hour and a half until boarding for my flight back to Brussels-Charleroi. By this time the sun had set, but I still tried to get in some aircraft spotting. It was interesting to see the air-stairs on this 737-800 retract into the fuselage just below the main entrance door.


*


Feeling in the mood for dinner, I then treated myself to some pizza and another beer. It was all very good!



Finally, before going to my gate, I took the stairs to the upper level of the terminal, which provided a nice overview of the airside facilities.



FLIGHT 3 OF 3

Date: March 26, 2011
Route: TSF-CRL
Flight #: FR6056
Aircraft Type: Boeing 737-8AS (Winglets)
Aircraft Registration: EI-EFZ (Delivered November, 2009)
Scheduled Departure: 21:25 CEST
Actual Takeoff: 21:20 CEST
Scheduled Arrival: 22:55 CEST
Actual Landing: 22:38 CEST
Flight Time: 1:18
Distance: 787 km. / 489 mi.
Altitude: Unknown
Seat: 19A (Window)
Load: 80% (All Economy)
My Logbook: 5th flight on Ryainair / 29th flight on the 737-800 / 275th airline flight overall

Boarding began on time at 20:55 from Gate 9 and, as I had once again forked over €4 for the “Priority Q,” I was among the first to head across the ramp toward the aircraft. I love the ambiance of the night ramp and used the opportunity to snap some more photos.


*

*


This time I boarded through the front door, where I was welcomed by a friendly flight attendant. With an almost unlimited choice of seats, I decided upon 19A, directly above the wing on the left side.



Once boarding was complete, the engines spun to life and at 21:15, we made an immediate right turn off the stand to start the taxi. The distance to RWY25 was very short and at 21:20 we jetted into the night sky.



This being a night flight, there was not much to photograph, apart from the winglet and its reflection on the wing. With the exception of the departure from Venice Treviso and the arrival at Brussels Charleroi, there were hardly any lights visible below on this cloudy night across much of Europe.



Beverage and snack services were offered, but I chose not to partake. I would be home soon enough, where free libations and comestibles were waiting in the refrigerator. I passed the time reading and wrote a couple of postcards I had collected during my journey. Before I knew it, we began our descent into Charleroi. We eventually broke out of the clouds while on final for RWY07.



We touched down smoothly at 22:38—again ahead of schedule and were thus treated to the early arrival song and Ryanair boasting ritual. At 22:42 we came to a halt at Stand 60 next to this JetairFly 737-700.



I deplaned through the front door and grabbed some last parting shots as I walked across the ramp.


*


With that, my air adventure—and my escape from Belgium—were complete. Another hour of riding the bus and the metro put me back at my apartment in Etterbeek a little after midnight. It had been an enjoyable, exciting and successful day. But how did Ryanair perform overall?

CONCLUDING ANALYSIS

Reservation and online services: 7/10
Check-in: 7/10
Seats and cabin condition: 6/10
Cabin crew: 8/10
Food and drink: 6/10
In-flight entertainment: 3/10
Baggage: N/A
Punctuality: 10/10
-------------------------------------------------------------
AVERAGE SCORE: 47/70 = 67%

Based on this experience, I would rate Ryanair’s product as good—especially for the price. Of course, comparing a discount carrier like Ryanair to a full-service carrier does not yield a valid conclusion given their very different operations. Had I actually been visiting the cities of Stockholm or Venice, I am sure I would have regretted the distance of these low-cost airports from the cities themselves. Also, Ryanair and other low-cost carriers clearly benefit from using these smaller airports in the sense that they do not face the same amount of congestion at major hub airports; so it is arguably easier for a Ryanair flight to arrive early (and then boast about it upon landing). Also, nothing comes for free on Ryanair, from the food and drink to the ability to board early. When all the fees are added up, it is indeed more expensive than Ryanair tries to imply. There are also amenities that are sacrificed entirely when flying Ryanair, such as a frequent flyer program.

However, no matter how I analyze it, I feel that I received a lot of value for the price I paid. In that sense, Ryanair offers a very good product, in my opinion, and I cannot complain. However, I have to keep in mind that everything was running smoothly in the Ryanair system that day, so I saw the airline at its best. Had there been inclement weather or ATC strikes or any other disturbances, I can assume Ryanair would not have been the preferred carrier to deal with. Thankfully, my trip was wrinkle-free and I can only give Ryanair a positive review.

As a parting shot, here are my boarding passes and other items I acquired during the flights.



Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this report! Comments, feedback and suggestions are most welcome.

Best regards,
BZNPilot

My other reports on Airliners.net are:
Trans-Atlantic Part 2: BZN-DEN-OKC-IAD-GVA-BRU (by BZNPilot Dec 3 2010 in Trip Reports)
Trans-Atlantic Part 1: BRU-ATL-SLC-BZN On DL (by BZNPilot Nov 15 2010 in Trip Reports)
A Bee-Line To Madrid: SN’s A319 & B733 (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Sep 13 2010 in Trip Reports)
YVR-PDX-BFI: Horizon + SeaPort's PC-12 (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Jul 6 2010 in Trip Reports)
Day Tripping: DCA-DTW-MKE-DCA On NW/YX (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Jul 25 2009 in Trip Reports)
BZN-IAD On Skywest/Delta (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Jan 24 2009 in Trip Reports)
DCA-SEA + Boeing Field + Holiday Travel Odyssey (by BZNPilot Jan 3 2009 in Trip Reports)
CDG-FRA-IAD On AF/UA (Part 2, Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Nov 18 2008 in Trip Reports)
DCA-ORD-FRA-CDG On UA/LH/AF (Part 1, Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Nov 9 2008 in Trip Reports)
Planes & Trains To Montreal (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Sep 18 2008 in Trip Reports)
IAD-DEN-BZN-ORD-DCA On UA Biz/Y (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Sep 12 2008 in Trip Reports)
DC-9+A320+738s On NW/DL To MT (pics) (by BZNPilot Aug 3 2008 in Trip Reports)
DC To Montana On NW (many Pics) (by BZNPilot Jun 15 2008 in Trip Reports)
HKG-ORD-DCA On UA In Coach (pics) (by BZNPilot Jun 14 2008 in Trip Reports)
HKG-MNL-HKG On CX (Business) W Pics (by BZNPilot Feb 25 2008 in Trip Reports)
Manila-Caticlan-Manila For New Years (Pics) (by BZNPilot Jan 24 2008 in Trip Reports)
MRY-SFO-HKG On UA (with Pics) (by BZNPilot Feb 2 2008 in Trip Reports)
DCA-PHL-SFO (with Pics) (by BZNPilot Jan 29 2008 in Trip Reports)
Northwest Tri-Jets To Germany In 1999 (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Feb 5 2010 in Trip Reports)
Lama Chopper In The Montana Mountains (w Pics) (by BZNPilot Jul 21 2008 in Trip Reports)

13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinesultanils From Belgium, joined Mar 2010, 1576 posts, RR: 30
Reply 1, posted (2 years 10 months 1 week 4 days ago) and read 8046 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hi BZNPilot,

First of all I would like to welcome you to Belgium! As far as I can understand from your story you are here for a longer time already but recently applied for citizenship to become a 'true' Belgian. I feel sorry for you having to go through such an ordeal in order to become a Belgian citizen, indeed our government is very bureacratic but there's nothing to be done about that. Just look at the formation now already pending almost 1 year, truly sad... But that sad, I hope you can also enjoy the good things we have on offer, like beer for example  
And secondly I would like to congratulate you with this very nice story and fabulous pics, well done!

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
After all, flying is flying, no matter the carrier, and in my opinion, it is always an incredible experience.

Well, you hit the nail on the head, Low cost class can be first class too!

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
total airfare budget at €100

That's what I call a tight budget. Glad you made it. I am also trying to plan a FR daytrip this way but until now did not find the right connections and timings. And indeed their awful website is not helpful either...

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
but I like the idea and always enjoy experiencing it.

Well frankly, I think it's stupid...  

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
These little moments in life can be so nice.

A nice day, some planes to fly and a nice cold beer. What more does a man want  



Thanks for posting!

sultanils



In thrust we trust.
User currently offlineBrusselsSouth From Belgium, joined Aug 2001, 623 posts, RR: 5
Reply 2, posted (2 years 10 months 1 week 4 days ago) and read 7980 times:

Hi BZN,

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
Let me say this right up front—I know Ryanair is often criticized and I know this trip report cannot hope to match other reports on more exotic or luxurious carriers. Nonetheless, I hope to offer an interesting account of my travels and some good wing views captured by my camera. After all, flying is flying, no matter the carrier, and in my opinion, it is always an incredible experience.

I thought I would have a quick look at your photos, then skip to another report as indeed another Ryanair report doesn't sound very 'exotic' to me.

To my surprise, I enjoyed reading yours, maybe because the pictures are really beautiful (very clear), maybe because it features my home airport (CRL), or maybe because I used to make day trips like yours, departing in the morning, returning in the evening, spending the day in planes and airports (my personal record is 5 flights in a day on 5 different carriers).

Well all those reasons combined made a good read, thank you.

BTW, congrats for getting your Belgian residency card !

Regards
BrusselsSouth


User currently offlineBZNPilot From Belgium, joined Feb 2006, 261 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (2 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 7841 times:

Hi sultanils,

Quoting sultanils (Reply 1):
First of all I would like to welcome you to Belgium!

Thanks very much!!

Quoting sultanils (Reply 1):
indeed our government is very bureacratic but there's nothing to be done about that.

Indeed, such is the way of many governments.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 1):
But that sad, I hope you can also enjoy the good things we have on offer, like beer for example

Absolutely, this is really a great country in my opinion, and aside from the residency ordeal, I have only had great experiences here. I have found Belgians to be among the most welcoming people I have met. And the beer is an additional bonus!

Quoting sultanils (Reply 1):
And secondly I would like to congratulate you with this very nice story and fabulous pics, well done!

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 1):
Low cost class can be first class too!

Definitely.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 1):
I am also trying to plan a FR daytrip this way but until now did not find the right connections and timings. And indeed their awful website is not helpful either...

Yeah, it is tough...keep looking and I'm sure you'll find something. It's just a matter of persistence to find the right connections and timings.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 1):
A nice day, some planes to fly and a nice cold beer. What more does a man want

Exactly! Thanks for posting your comments. Best regards, BZNPilot

Quoting BrusselsSouth (Reply 2):
To my surprise, I enjoyed reading yours,

Hi BrusselsSouth, thanks for your comments! Glad you enjoyed.

Quoting BrusselsSouth (Reply 2):
Well all those reasons combined made a good read, thank you.

Thanks! I always like reading other reports about my hope airport(s) too...interesting to see someone else's experience on your home turf.
Quoting BrusselsSouth (Reply 2):
BTW, congrats for getting your Belgian residency card !

Thanks, much appreciated! I'm glad to be in your country. Best regards, BZNPilot


User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 31
Reply 4, posted (2 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 6159 times:

Hi Bozeman,

Sorry for the late reply - I read this a while ago but never got around posting a comment until now! Well, I did have some 7 flights between now and then so that's my excuse!  

First of all: congratulations on achieving your Belgian residency status (or whatever it is officially called) - now you can finally start exploring Europe to your heart's content!

I kinda like these Ryanair daytrips - many people hate Ryanair and avoid them like the plague, but for me they've always been good. They've done exactly what they promised, have usually been very punctual and of course very good value for money. Plus I really like the fact that they do fly into all these weird airports around - it is good for logging new, well off the beaten path airports. And flying FR is also a nice sociological experiment - you really get people from all walks of life there and there are hours of amusement to be had just people (and behavior) watching.

So yes, a very enjoyable read about three airports which all I have passed through, although I haven't flown any of the routes you did!

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
that I had no freedom-of-movement rights while my case was pending.

Oh dear, that sounds bad! I think they should have another look at the rules - nowadays people just move around far more than they used to do so such a rule sounds very silly to me!

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
the people at the administrative level made it a very difficult experience.

Yeah, I can only imagine you had some very kafkaesque moments with the bureaucrats - Belgium is quite famous for red tape.

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
After all those months of a relatively stationary existence, I decided a daytrip was an appropriate way to celebrate my new status as a confirmed, legal resident, free to move around.

Well, what can I say? Yes, that's the PERFECT way!

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
I took a couple of photos of the early-morning ramp action.

Some nice shots. I departed on a 7.15 flight from CRL last year - pulling in to the airport on a hotel shuttle (well, actually just a regular taxi) I was amazed at the number of FR Boeings based there.

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
With ample time still to spare until my 13:30 boarding time, I bought a cheap Swedish beer and headed back outside to take in some sun on the patio. These little moments in life can be so nice.

Hmm, are you sure it was cheap? No beer in Sweden is cheap. But actually I think that might've been what they call "mellanöl" - a watered down version of up to 3.5% ABV which is the only thing they can sell in supermarkets.

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
As FlyingFinn76 pointed out in one of his recent reports all hand luggage at Skavsta Airport is weighed just prior to the security screening. I found this very strange, as well, given that I was asked to weigh my small handbag, which came in at just four kilograms.

Thanks for the mention. Yeah, on my last time there they seemed to have changed the process somewhat (or maybe it was just a sane person doing the job that day?) as they only weighted those pieces that looked heavy - my back bag looked light enough and passed with flying colors!

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
The only other time I had eaten a cheeseburger on an airplane was on Alaska Airlines several years ago, and that burger was definitely better than this Ryanair fabrication

Oh yeah! I remember an AS ORD-SEA flight where I saw the FAs passing through a cart with a huge pile of tin foil wrapped things. I was wondering what an earth were those and why were there so many of them - I'm sure there were around 100 of them (and this was on a 739!). I soon found out - those were the Alaska cheeseburgers, and sure enough they were making very good business with those - many passengers bought one. My seatmates did, and from what I saw (and smelled!) it looked quite good.

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
Still, the Ryanair version was edible enough and strangely hit the spot.

Err, I tried the "New York Style" Hotdog some years ago and that was quite horrible. Half frozen and half hot - not exactly my cup of tea.

Then again I have fancied trying that chili con carne of theirs, purely for trip reporting purposes of course!

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
I did, however, find this sign amusing. I wonder what “federal law” they’re referring to on a Ryanair flight from Sweden to Italy? And funny how the fine is listed in terms of U.S. dollars.

The KF 717s (or at least one of them) have a similar sign in the front lavatory. I wondered about the same thing myself when I saw (and of course photographed!) it.


User currently offlineTomskii From Belgium, joined May 2011, 464 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (2 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 6134 times:

Firstly, Welcome to Belgium and I hope you enjoy it here!

Secondly, FR is indeed not as bad as it is described by the world. I flew them from/To CRL-BRI for a school trip to Southern Italy in May and I was surprised that I had 'ok' leg room. Beverages we're expensive but as you say they're not splendid (I had some sort of hot sandwich thing)

Boarding is pretty fluent but personnel on MY flight was a bit unfriendly especially when someone from my class asked for a spoon -which she didn't have- to eat her pasta.

Cheers,

Tom



Nikon D90 + Nikkor f4.5-5.6 18-105mm + Tamron f4-5.6 70-300mm
User currently offlineCaptainRed From Germany, joined Oct 2010, 675 posts, RR: 21
Reply 6, posted (2 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 6081 times:

Hi BZNPilot,

interesting trip report. Congratulations for getting your Belgian residency, my wife is also from outside the EU and had to go through some similar bureaucratic ordeals here in Germany, so I can really feel with you. But indeed a great idea to celebrate it with such a trip.

Some great pictures also, I really like these moody morning shots in CRL.

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
After all, flying is flying, no matter the carrier, and in my opinion, it is always an incredible experience.

Cannot agree more on that  
Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
It is a little cheesy, yes, but mildly amusing—I bet the flight attendants and frequent Ryanair flyers get sick of it though.

I am not yet sick of it, it is always good for a laugh. On one of my flights they started it several times at once so that it sounded rather weird and all the crew had a good laugh at it as well.

Anyway, thanks again for sharing your trip
CaptainRed


User currently offlineBZNPilot From Belgium, joined Feb 2006, 261 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (2 years 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 5754 times:

Hi Everyone, thanks for all the comments!

@FlyingFinn

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 4):
Sorry for the late reply

Ha, no problem, thanks for taking the time to comment!  
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 4):
First of all: congratulations on achieving your Belgian residency status

Many thanks again!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 4):
kinda like these Ryanair daytrips - many people hate Ryanair and avoid them like the plague, but for me they've always been good.

Definitely! I have followed your many reports over time and continue to be amazed by the itineraries you put together. And most of the time, things seem to work out as planned! A lot of people, including those on this forum, try to avoid Ryanair, it seems. But it seems to have provided you with lots of neat routes, itineraries and trip reports.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 4):
And flying FR is also a nice sociological experiment

Very true, though I hadn't thought of it that way. But you're definitely right.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 4):
I departed on a 7.15 flight from CRL last year - pulling in to the airport on a hotel shuttle (well, actually just a regular taxi) I was amazed at the number of FR Boeings based there.

I remember thinking the same--wingletted 738s galore!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 4):
Hmm, are you sure it was cheap? No beer in Sweden is cheap. But actually I think that might've been what they call "mellanöl" - a watered down version of up to 3.5% ABV which is the only thing they can sell in supermarkets.

You're right, maybe it wasn't so cheap, but it was the cheapest one in the fridge at the store. Good thing for me, it was just 3.5%--I was a bit tired at the time, so one of those strong Belgian beers I have here would have probably done me in!  
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 4):
Yeah, on my last time there they seemed to have changed the process somewhat (or maybe it was just a sane person doing the job that day?

Hmmm...I wonder if it's airport policy or dependent upon the saneness of the person.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 4):
Err, I tried the "New York Style" Hotdog some years ago and that was quite horrible. Half frozen and half hot - not exactly my cup of tea.

Oh wow...the icy-hot combination is never good!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 4):
The KF 717s (or at least one of them) have a similar sign in the front lavatory. I wondered about the same thing myself when I saw (and of course photographed!) it.

Ha, funny you've seen that too! I guess that's the type of thing that only airplane freaks notice (and photograph         
Thanks again for your comments and I look forward to more of your reports, also!

@ Tomskii

Quoting Tomskii (Reply 5):
Firstly, Welcome to Belgium and I hope you enjoy it here!

Thanks! Glad to be in your country, I like it here very much.

Quoting Tomskii (Reply 5):
Secondly, FR is indeed not as bad as it is described by the world. I flew them from/To CRL-BRI for a school trip to Southern Italy in May and I was surprised that I had 'ok' leg room.

Indeed, people do describe them as much worse than they are (at least based on my experiences). Glad you had an okay experience in general.

Quoting Tomskii (Reply 5):
spoon -which she didn't have- to eat her pasta.


Although this is indeed a bit strange...especially on a flight to Italy! Ha!
Thanks again for posting.

@ CaptainRed,

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 6):
Congratulations for getting your Belgian residency, my wife is also from outside the EU and had to go through some similar bureaucratic ordeals here in Germany

Thanks for your comments! Yes, it can be difficult for us non-EU people to "get in" but I also know it's similarly tough to get into my country (the US). I know it is strict because people abuse the system, but it is a shame that it is often so bureaucratic.

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 6):
Some great pictures also, I really like these moody morning shots in CRL.

Thanks!

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 6):
On one of my flights they started it several times at once

Ha! I guess they were too eager to prove their timeliness. Funny.

Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment!

Best,
BZNPilot


User currently offlinenkops From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 2634 posts, RR: 6
Reply 8, posted (2 years 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 5624 times:

Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter):
After all, flying is flying, no matter the carrier, and in my opinion, it is always an incredible experience.

   well said

very nice TR



next flights ACY-TPA-ACY on NK, ACY-ORD-DEN-IAH-ACY on UA
User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2472 posts, RR: 15
Reply 9, posted (2 years 9 months 3 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 5191 times:

Wonderfull trip report! However I'm not a FR-fan at all.


Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineba724 From Australia, joined Nov 2010, 44 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (2 years 9 months 3 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 5110 times:

I wholeheartedly agree with you re flying on the cheaper not so popular carriers,I for one would love to just fly mainly on full service airlines given a choice but the LCC suits my budget,and yes,we are still flying and thats the main thing.To me and to most A Netters I' imagine,it is not solely the plane trip but also the spotting,the different airports,the photography etc that cumulatively make a trip exciting.I thoroughly enjoyed your TR BZN PILOT..Best from Dave

User currently offlineBZNPilot From Belgium, joined Feb 2006, 261 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (2 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 4891 times:

Hi nkops,

Quoting nkops (Reply 8):
very nice TR

Thanks for your comment, glad you enjoyed.

Hi MSS658,

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 9):
Wonderfull trip report!

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, much appreciated.

Hi Dave,

Quoting ba724 (Reply 10):
To me and to most A Netters I' imagine,it is not solely the plane trip but also the spotting,the different airports,the photography etc that cumulatively make a trip exciting

I agree completely with you...it's the cumulative.

Quoting ba724 (Reply 10):
I thoroughly enjoyed your TR BZN PILOT

Thanks!! I appreciate your kind comments.

All the best,
BZNPilot


User currently offlineLXM83 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 607 posts, RR: 5
Reply 12, posted (2 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 4832 times:

Hello BZNPilot

Just read your story - a bit late - but then late is better than never - and I really enjoyed it. Your pictures and writing style make it just very nice and relaxing to read!

Completely agree with you about flying being an incredible experience no matter what.

Thanks and best regards,
LXM83


User currently offlineBZNPilot From Belgium, joined Feb 2006, 261 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (2 years 9 months 2 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 4681 times:

Hi LXM83,

Quoting LXM83 (Reply 12):
Your pictures and writing style make it just very nice and relaxing to read!

Many thanks for your comments and for reading the report. Glad you enjoyed!

Best,
BZNPilot


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