After my last FR-trip to BOH, I decided that SNN is a must-seen-airport, too. When I planned the SNN-trip, Ryanair-fares were 7€ one-way. But it took me some time to make sure that I don't have to work that weekend, and when I was finally able to book, I had to pay 69.99€ one-way:
*******139.98 EUR Adults
*********5.00 EUR Fees
*********0.00 EUR Service Charges
*********6.74 EUR Ins Levy/PSC
*********0.00 EUR UK Air Duty
*********4.35 EUR Government Tax
*********4.35 EUR Airport Tax
*********0.00 EUR Car rental
*********0.00 EUR Insurance
*******160.42 EUR Total Paid
Friday afternoon, I left home at 12:30 by car. 280km and nearly 3h later, I arrived at HHN. Scheduled time of departure is 19:10, the check-in opens two hours before, so I had some time to drive around. But there were no movements at all, just a parked An-124. Those streets at HHN are crazy, some of them are old taxiways, about 10m wide, I suddenly got the feeling that I must have taken a wrong road and that I'm on a real taxiway, the old USAF buildings around me, I somehow expected evil US soldiers coming out of the buildings and shooting me "while attempting to escape" But nothing happened, this taxiway is now used as a public road from HHN to Trier!
The parking spaces seem to become rarer and rarer every time I visit HHN, this time I had to walk 15 minutes from my car to the terminal building.
Friday, 24May 2002
Scheduled time of departure: 19:10
Scheduled time of arrival: 20:10
Photo © Adam Rowden
I arrived at the terminal at 16:45, started a queue at the check-in desk, and when they opened the check-in at 17:10, I got "002" printed on my plastic boarding pass (two c/i counters were used, so "001" was probably given out at the other counter). When I asked how many passengers they expect, the lady told me that 165 passengers were booked. I went outside to watch the landing of a Hapag-Lloyd 738. Later, before I went through security check, I passed at the c/i again, and even now there was no long queue there, Ryanair manual c/i is fast, it takes less than one minute per passenger.
I was very early at the gate, got a seat close to the gate door, so after the pre-boarding of passengers with children I was the first "normal" passenger to board the aircraft and took seat 32F.
Boarding was finished at 19:05, but the captain made an announcement that due to ATC problems over the UK, we would have to wait at least 15 minutes before starting the engines. The Ryanair cabin crew used this time for a 15-minutes Ryanair commercial: Food and drinks they offer, telephone cards, duty-free stuff, blablabla... it was a German cabin crew, and about 95% of the passengers were German, but all those annoying announcements were made in English language only - strange. After 15 minutes, the captain made another announcement that it would take another 5 more minutes, so the cabin crew continued their "please visit www.ryanair.com" and "ever thought of holiday in Perpignon" announcements. At 19:31 we finally started push-back, take-off at 19:40.
It was raining when leaving HHN, it was overcast during the whole flight, and it was raining when arriving in SNN, so there was not much to see during the flight. I brought some coke and biscuits with me in my rucksack, so I didn't order anything. But compared to my (shorter) HHN-BOH flight in the afternoon, they sold quite a lot of sandwiches on this (longer) HHN-SNN flight at dinner time.
Once again I have to say that the Ryanair seat-pitch is still okay for short-haul flights. The aircraft was very new (I think EI-CSV is 4 months old) and despite the fact that they did not do any cleaning at HHN, the cabin was clean, too.
Flight time was nearly 2 hours - strong headwinds as they told us, and maybe they could not take the direct route due to those ATC problems. We landed at 20:20 and arrived at the gate at 20:28. It was raining and cold, so I decided not to do any spotting that day.
I picked up my bag and searched for a taxi. But there was no taxi, just a counter where you can order a taxi. The guy told me that the next taxi is available in about 15 minutes. I didn't want to wait that long, so I shared a taxi with two German ladies who also arrived from HHN. We stopped at a B&B just about 200m away from the Shannon Aerospace hangar. Wow! Unfortunately it was the ladies' B&B. My B&B was about 2km away.
The B&B was nice. Nothing special, but really nice. I had a shower, and then I went sleeping. But can you imagine how cold it was? The heating didn't work, or maybe they switched it off during the "summer". So I decided that my pyjama is not enough, I put on an additional T-shirt and socks before going to bed. One hour later I was still cold, so I put on my pullover. At night I woke up, I was still cold, so I even put on my coat. There is a song by The Cranberries called "So cold in Ireland". I always thought that this song had a political interpretation - but now I understand the real meaning of this song.
Anyway, it was cheap (25€, compared to the airport hotel for 112€), so if you ever decide to go to SNN, take pullovers with you, and then the "Ardkeen" B&B is the place to go!
The next morning at 8 o'clock, Mr Ardkeen (if this is his name?) drove me to the airport. The time between 8 and 12 is really interesting, but as nearly everywhere in the world, the saturday afternoon is really boring. But let's start from the beginning: When I arrived, there were two British Airways 744s, one European 742 and one Air Atlanta 742, all departing to Cardiff, there was any sports event, soccer or rugby game, I have no idea. In addition to those charter flights, I also saw the scheduled traffic, of course: 3x Royal Jordanian A310, 5x Aer Lingus A330, Delta B777, Continental B757, 2x American Trans Air TriStar, just to name a few. And of course many German charter flights.
In the afternoon, I walked around to see the parked aircraft: Iberia B727 (EC-CFA), an a/w Lockheed Electra, two B707s, ... In front of the Shannon Aerospace hangar, there were some parked aircraft: an A319 in full Swissair colours (HB-IPW), a Lauda B737-300 (OE-ILF), a Lufthansa A321 (D-AIRS I think), a Lina Congo B737-200 and an ex-Dinar MD-80, on the other side of the airport there was an all-white B737-200, ex-Sabena I think. No registrations were painted on those aircraft, so if anybody happens to know the ex-registration or msn of the LinaCongo, Dinar and Sabena aircraft, any help is appreciated!
Saturday, 25May 2002
Scheduled time of departure: 20:35
Scheduled time of arrival: 23:30
EI-CSV (the same B737-800 as the day before)
Photo © Gerry Hill
The check-in at SNN opens three hours before departure. I arrived at the c/i at 17:45, two counters were opened, a queue of about 20 passengers in front of each counter. But it went *slowly*! I had to queue for 50 minutes(!), at 18:35 I could finally check in, I got security number 43. They have two counters, and after one hour they only had 43 passengers. Once again I asked for the number of passengers booked, 187 this time. I have no idea how they managed to check the remaining 144 passengers in time, maybe they opened five additional counters, or they simply hurried up. I went to the viewing area again, and at 19:00 I went to the gate.
The aircraft from Hahn arrived on time. It's a usual procedure that a Ryanair f/a comes to the gate after the last passengers has left the aircraft, in order to tell the gate agent to start boarding. But there was no gate agent yet, the f/a was standing outside the gate and the gate door was locked. What a shame! Finally, the gate agent arrived. They had a short discussion if it's the gate agent's or the f/a's job to make the boarding announcement. After not much more than two minutes discussion, the f/a finally made his detailed boarding call: "Ladies and gentlemen, Ryanair 128 now ready for boarding."
Once again I was the first passenger to board the aircraft, once again I took seat 32F. There was an old lady taking seat 32D. I told her that the aircraft would probably become full, and the 32E seat won't remain empty. She didn't say anything, remained on her 32D seat, and whenever anybody wanted to take that seat, she gave him/her an evil eye, so indeed: the 32E seat remained free.
Boarding was completed at about 20:40, but the loaders were not yet finished. It is simply impossible to off-load the baggage of 180+ passengers and load the baggage of 187 other passengers within 25 minutes ground time. Everybody had got much baggage, including some bikes, golf equipment, etc. They were finished at 20:48, and I must say that they worked really quickly. 25 minutes ground time is simply not enough on this flight. We started push-back at 20:50, take-off at 20:54.
I was raining the whole day, but when we took off, there were suddenly no clouds at all, so there was blue sky above us, green Ireland below us, and a beautiful sunset. Flight time was only 1h 25min this time, 20 minutes after take-off it was completely night, and it was full moon. Very nice flight, I had a coke this time (1.70€ or the 150ml can), but all in all they did not sell very much in that flight.
We landed at 23:22, they made the normal announcement "Welcome to Frankfurt-Hahn, eight minutes ahead of schedule!", and we arrived at the gate at 23:26. It took about 15 minutes until I got my baggage, but on the way to the baggage reclaim we could see that they worked really quickly, it simply takes that time to offload the baggage of so many passengers. Then I walked back to my car, the street lighting didn't work which didn't really help me finding my car, and I arrived at home at 2:40.
All in all, it was a nice short trip, not as cheap as my previous Ryanair trips, but nice. But it will probably be my last Ryanair trip, because there are other cheap flights from STR to London, and I have already been to PIK, BOH and SNN, the other destinations from HHN are boring. Ryanair will have to add some additional interesting destinations from HHN, or the will have to start services to STR or FKB, otherwise this has been my last Ryanair flight.