just a quick one (relatively, compared to my usual, more lengthy reports)
The flight, scheduled to leave at 10:50, pushed back at 10:50, only about 2/3 full (or perhaps even less). On time, as on time as possible. I had a really pleasant window seat (or should I say window row? No one sat next to me, nor in the aisle seat!), left hand side of the plane, ahead of the wing, and enjoyed the very brief taxi to the runway and following (rather unspectacular) takeoff run.
I asked for flight deck visits, only to be rejected, of course, and overall I have to admit none of the Ryanair cabin crew on any of the flights struck me as particularly friendly (they weren't), but that's fine by me, for 20 pounds I don't need to be smiled at.
The routing was above Holland and Stuttgart, then across the Alps and over Bologna, on to Rome. Most of the way was cloud-covered, but at least I managedto spot the odd plane or two heading in the opposite direction. Then, above the Alps, the clouds were replaced by some odd kind of fog that allowed me to see the awesome, beautiful, breathtaking mountains, but in poor light and often through semi-transparent foglayers. On the south side of the Alps, the clouds were gone, and we flew along a lower, long mountainchain that was remarkable snow-covered. In fact, until 10 minutes before landing, there would always be a snow-covered mountain chain in the far background, seemingly adjacent to the sea. Somehow I couldn't help thinkint of Vancouver, and wondered whether the mountains would be visible from Rome itself. We approached and landed above miles and miles of densely populated cityscapes (but modern city, not the old city of Rome) and I was wondering whether Ryanair had by accident found an airport actually placed in the city they advertised as opposed to a faraway one...
The plane arrived on time, and I should perhaps mention that in Italy, they had not introduced the "boarding by number on boarding pass system" yet. About 20 minutes before the plane had touched down, the boarding gate agent arrived. Immediately, an Asian couple formed a queue of 2. The lady tried to shoo them away but they stayed. 2 minutes later, 2 senior citizens stood up and joined the queue. Within 10 seconds, everyone in the building and their dog had formed the longest queue I'd ever seen. Honestly, you could HEAR the rush of people like the oncoming spring tide after the dam is broken! I looked out the window, where NOTHING could be seen, apart from some business jets, and broke into frustrated laughter. I'm often among the early queuers, but I've never queued before the plane had landed. And, to be frank, I wasn't quick enough. The queue was 150 metres long by the time I had realized what was happening (the rush was honestly, very very quick), so I surrendered and told myself it would be a flight through darkness anyway, so why need a window seat?
But, as I boarded (as one of the last people on a nearly full flight) I decided to give it my best shot. I boarded through the rear stairs (like half of the people from my bus) and went forward, on and on, until I spotted a free row. Damn, the people ahead of me got that one! I continued, and spotted another row, and quickly claimed it. It was the row behind the emergency exits, and I had it all to myself - a window seat, no less!
From the plane, I watched an Italian government A319 go around (the bizjet ahead of it was too close) and land just before we took off. (Note: I saw several Italian government A319 departures and landings during my stay, as well as an Air Cairo Tu204 and some DC9s). We rolled onto the runway and started yet another unimpressive takeoff roll.
After rotating, we turned right. Then climbed straight on, and banked right again. Then, quite suddenly, the pilot pulled back at the stick, and you could really feel the blood rushing out of your head. Turning and climbing quite sharply, it felt like 1.3g to me (just a guess!), but it was quite unusually spirited, and some other pax "wow"ed aloud. I had experienced similarly sharp turns only on one other Ryanair flight, during a thunderstorm in Charleroi, where we curved this way and that for a few minutes after takeoff, overall a very bumpy and enjoyable ride that one, especially as I saw a lightning strike a church tower about 1000 metres to the side of the plane just after takeoff. Either way, there was no thunderstorm this time, but the pilot was still very very enthusiastic in his steering...
The rest of the flight was rather eventless, although the dusk in my window view was beautiful to behold for another 40 minutes or so.
Another interesting note: Ryanair managed 2 food/drink servings during both flights, which I considered odd, as usually they only do 1. I bought a model 737, but unlike Go, Ryanair was very complicated about using a credit card - it took absolute ages, as the stewardess had to run to the front of the plane to manually prepare the receipt. On go, they had a handheld cardswiping receiptprinter...
All in all some pleasant flights. Nice window views on the way there, spirited ride on the way back.
Oh, and this time I counted only 8 or 9 mid-air plane sightings....