this is my first trip report
I decided a few months ago that I had to go to this year's Paris Air Show, I went to the ILA in Berlin last year and knew that any air show is great for an airliner buff.
Since I was going with a friend who lives in Brescia, near Bergamo, I figured I'd go with Ryanair, who have a base at Bergamo Orio al Serio (BGY) and fly to Paris/Beauvais (BVA) from there. Found a great fare, €10 + taxes return, for a grand total of €39! Not too bad...
Dep. 12:05 (actual: 12:20)
Arr. 13:35 (actual: 13:32)
So on June 14th the two of us went to BGY very early since there were no trains from Brescia to Bergamo that day, and we could only get a lift at about 8am. We did get over the 2 hours of waiting and even got some decent photos of aircraft to be seen there, including 2 HLX 737-700s, an MNG pax 737-400, and the usual mix of Gandalf Do328's and Volare A320s.
Before accessing the check in area I had to get my checked luggage through an X-ray machine. They probably didn't have those machines in the luggage sorting system. Check-in was smooth, after about 15 minutes in the queue I got my boarding pass in a couple of minutes. Waited for another half hour before going through the security check (they could use a couple more bars in Bergamo, there was only one) and got up into the departures area. From there I had a nice view of the apron and saw my aircraft landing.
Boarding began a few minutes late, and so we were driven to the aircraft (parked at a remote of stand of course), EI-CSS. We just missed the first bus so we were among the last people to get onboard, which means that all window seats were taken. I managed to get 26D and my friend sat across the aisle in 26C. The flight was full.
Photo © Alexander Jonsson
Many passengers were families with one or two kids, probably first timers After a lengthy wait before taxiing, we finally took off into the clear blue sky. I found the service to be pleasant, for a no-frills airline. Even though they made you pay for everything, the flight attendants were very friendly and I got a good impression. The aircraft was very very clean and the seats quite comfortable, certainly more than I expected. For such a low fare I really didn't expect such a pleasant experience
In spite of the late departure, we arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule. Just when the aircraft touched down, 99% of the passengers clapped their hands to the pilots (I resisted to that).
The arrival airport, however, was an entirely different story. Beauvais is a really tiny airport, even smaller than I expected, with barely enough apron space for 3 737s...Parked next to us was EI-CJD, the FR 737-200 in the special Eircell markings.
The baggage claim area at Beauvais has two conveyor belts. Even though we were the only arriving flight at that time, it still took about 20 minutes before I got my luggage. Outside the baggage claim, I bought two tickets for the bus to and from Paris, €10 each, €20 total - that's double the price of my flights (w/out tax)!
The bus ride to Porte Maillot took about 1h 10 minutes, nothing to say about that.
The airshow was nice, though the flight displays were a bit of a repeat of what I saw in Berlin last year (A340-600, A318, Eurofighter...), but I saw some interesting stuff anyway. I was really pleased to see the 777-300ER, Concorde F-BTSD (sad to see it parked for good, but it still looked magnificent), the Embraer 170, plus all the other aircraft that were there, especially a couple of helis from the Italian Navy, the MB339 and 346, and the ATR42MP of the Guardia di Finanza.
Overall a nice show, I'm sure I'll go to the 2005 one (should have the A380 by then!), and to the ILA and Farnborough 2004.
Dep. 14:00 (actual: 14:20)
Arr. 15:35 (on time)
The flight back to Bergamo was much the same as the outbound one, with a few differences though.
Check-in at Beauvais took an eternity, due to there being only 2 desks and loads of people. I had to wait about 40 minutes before my turn, but then the operation was a breeze. Got a funny generic boarding pass, with only the flight #, destination and passenger name hand-written by the agent. The only other time I got something similar was in Queenstown airport (NZ) for my Origin Pacific flight to CHC...
I managed to get robbed of €7,50 at the airport bar, for a sandwich and a 1/2 liter of water. After finishing the cold sandwich, I passed through security and got into the departure greenhouse, I mean area. Well, to be more precise, one part was actually air conditioned, but full to the brim with people without a single seat available. Everyone else was in an extension of the building, essentially a tent, which was quite hot.
Parked on the apron was EI-CJD (again!), and at about 13:30 our aircraft came in. It was EI-CSV, wearing a special "Nyköping" sticker (can't find a photo of it on a.net ). Standing in the crowd before Gate B (one of THREE gates), was some sort of religious group, probably on a pilgrimage to somewhere in Italy, who started singing a song and went on for several minutes. Quite fun to hear, really Anyway, this time around I was one of the first to board and got me seat 20A, while my friend got 21A (we both wanted window seats), which gave me a good view of the wing whilst still being able to see the ground below me. Sitting next to me were two people from that group I saw before, luckily none of them felt like singing during the flight.
The flight left 20 minutes late, and after leveling off, inflight service started. I bought a chocolate bar and a Heineken for about €5.50, not really a bargain admittedly, but I was hungry and thirsty. The F/A's were again friendly and confirmed my positive impression. The chief purser had a lovely Irish accent
Shortly before starting our descent into Bergamo, we passed over Zurich, and I managed to see ZRH airport from above, pretty cool! We landed at BGY bang on time, this time only a few people clapped, and we quickly deplaned. Baggage claim took a little longer than at BVA, and then I got to the train station to catch my train back home to Venice.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised with Ryanair, after hearing mixed comments about them I was really curious to find out just how good or bad they really are. I got a general impression of professionalism, and found the crew and ground agents to be friendly.
I will certainly fly them again if I find a low fare such as this one, and if the departure/arrival airports are convenient!
Hope you enjoyed my report, and watch out for my next one, which will be about the "other extreme" of flight, BA001