Well, not the sexiest air route in the world, but certainly one of the busiest.
My reason for the trip was to attend, with my partner, a legendary Irish wedding. I won't go into that one too much, but recommend it if you ever get the chance.
I live near LHR, but shopping around produced a return of £70 with Ryanair out of Gatwick, which is only about 1-hour drive from my house.
Ryanair's website and adverts infer beautifully turned out 737NG's. The reality, as I always find when I fly them, is a beat-up ex LH 737-200.
Anyway, I thought it must now be my turn for one of the new shiny jets! Walking out of the door onto the tarmac at gate 16, on 27th July, an orange 732??!! Oh No! But as compensation, my first flight in an ad. jet. My chariot was a faithful 732 adorned in the rather unattractive News of the World/The Sun paint job. For those of you who don't know, these are perhaps the UK's most famous tabloid newspapers.
EI-CNT left the ramp about 20mins late to due air traffic reasons and my partners rather late duty free shopping trip (sorry pax!).
Full to the brim of pax and bags, November Tango lined up and stopped. I love the anticipation of a brakes-on take-off. Roll to rotate was 40 seconds, surprisingly long I thought. As I always do when taking off in a 732, I am thinking (above the amazing din of the two JT's) that the 732 was a cancelled military bomber project, turned over to the civil market and why can't I fly in one of those new NG's!
50 minutes later with a few lumps and bumps on the way we drop in to DUB, as smooth as a pint of Guinness.
Interesting traffic includes a Delta MD-11, a beautiful Aer Lingus A330, lots of Aer Lingus 146’s, F50’s and a departing Spanair MD something or other.
One week later (3rd August) and full of oysters and the black stuff, it’s a 1520 departure back to London. It must now be my turn for one of the new shiny jets! Grab a last half of Guinness and watch lots of interesting traffic including Aer Lingus A330 at the same ramp I saw on the 27th (has it not moved?), Sterling 737, LH A321, BM A320, Aer Lingus A321, 146’s, F50’s, Jersey European Dash 8 and an A300 from xxxx Aer, can’t quite read the lettering.
Time for boarding. Lurking on the tarmac is an old friend, Ryanair 732 EI-CNW, which whisked me safely from Prestwick to Stansted earlier in the year. The good news is only 50 pax so grab window seat two from the back, with a lovely view over the wing and that scary JT rocket thing hanging off it.
A bit of a roller this time on the Easterly runway, with full power to rotate timed at 30 seconds. The lovely thing about taking off on a murky day is the emergence through the clouds into a landscape of brilliant sunshine, and virgin white clouds.
Enjoy the 55 minute hop back to a rainy Gatwick, but oh don’t those JT’s scream! Again another smooth landing by our female captained crew.
Interesting spots on the way back include an Olympic 737 (quite long is it an 800 or 900?), Virgin 747 Classic, Lots of BA 146’s, Air Atlanta L1011 – lovely, a nice pair of Monarch 757’s. For the first time get to see JMC’s colours in the flesh on a DC10 and 757 and think they should fire their marketing consultants.
Overall? Well Ryanair delivered me there and back on schedule, in safety and reasonable comfort for the cost of a good night out, so can’t really complain. Next time however, it must be my turn for one of the new shiny jets!
L1011 - P F M