We arrived at Charleroi airport at 07:45, after a 5 minutes walk as we had parked the car in a remote street in order to avoid the expensive car park of the airport. The very small terminal building was fortunately not too crowded. A quick look at the TV screens guided us to the check-in desk 6. The check-in process was extremely fast (we had hand luggage only), although the Dutch-speaking couple just ahead of us had some difficulties explaining the guy at the check-in that they would like to take their bags in the cabin. There are only 10 (or maybe slightly more) check-in desks at CRL. As far as I could see, some work had been accomplished in the terminal since last time I'd been here (May 2002) : new cafeteria, bigger bookshop, new shop, ...
We passed through immigration and security checks very fast, and we entered the waiting area of gate 1 (named Départ 1). Actually, there are only 2 departure + 2 arrival gates at CRL. Gate is maybe not the appropriate word as those gates only consist of a waiting room (on aircraft apron level) with a nice view on aircrafts taking off and landing. There was a nice brand new shop selling all the usual goods you usually find at airports.
Sadly there was absolutely no traffic to watch until Ryanair 737-200 EI-CNV landed on runway 25 at 08:55, arriving as FR1012 from London-Stansted. It soon parked at the second gate and passengers quickly disembarked while other passengers prepared to board for flight FR8023 to Carcassonne. Then our plane arrived from Dublin at 09:14 : it was Boeing 737-230A EI-CNZ (LN 735).
Photo © Gerry Hill
Photo © Daniel Hamer
Some passengers went to the windows to watch the machine closer and I had the opportunity to take a nice photo of it. A queue began to form as everybody wanted to board first in order to get a good seat. After passengers with children boarded, we began to board, both by front and rear left doors. I boarded in the rear and secured seat 19F, close to the window, while EI-CNV was taking off from Rwy 25. Amazingly, the window panel at that particular window was that of a Boeing 727 ! Some signs in the cabin were in German, showing that the aircraft once belonged to a german carrier (Lufthansa I think). After the safety demo in English by the cabin crew, a tape repeated the same in French and Dutch, while the aircraft pushed back and taxied to Rwy 25.
We had to hold short while a Piper 38 was making a touch and go, and throttles were pushed at 09:55. After a brisk acceleration, we were airborne. As the weather was clear, I managed to see my appartment immediately after take-off (it is located 1 kilometer from the airport !). We had a very nice view until we crossed the Belgian shoreline at 10:12, then the sky became overcast until Dublin. The crew soon passed with goods and drinks. At some occasion, I could see other aircrafts passing below us. Descent to Dublin was quite brisk, and the aircraft decelerated strongly while descending (the spoilers were kept extended for a long time). We went out of the clouds shortly before crossing the Irish coast and we landed very smoothly at 10:07 (local time) on runway 28.
We reached the gate A1 (or maybe A2 or A3) after a long taxi via taxiways N, B5, B4, P2 and C. Those A-gates are certainly not the greatest of Dublin airport, but with only hand-luggage, we soon were in the Airlink bus to the city centre.
Return trip report to follow soon. (29 July on EI-COB)