On wednesday, 01 October, I left home at 06:30. About one hour and 110km later I arrived at FKB. I have to say that it was not so easy to find FKB, and when I was finally there, I searched for the free parking, I didn't want to pay for parking, and I knew that there is one parking lot where parking is for free. What I didn't know: This parking lot is very small, and of course there were no more official parking spaces left. I decided to take a half-official parking space, crossing over the pavement and parking in the forest - and I spent the rest of the trip thinking about how to leave this parking space again without destroying my tyres.
01 October 2003
STD: 09:45 ATD: 10:00
STA: 10:15 ATA: 10:18
I had flown in this aircraft before, STN-SXB last March
Photo © Roman Doleys
Photo © Edwin Olinowetz
No the aircraft didn't have the "Big Brother" titles any more.
Photo © Florian Sindermann
PAYMENT DETAILS (for both FKB-STN and STN-FKB)
*********0.04 EUR Adults
*********6.00 EUR Fees
*********8.93 EUR Service Charges
*********5.20 EUR Ins Levy
*********6.98 EUR UK Air Duty
*********9.30 EUR Government Tax
*********4.77 EUR Airport Tax
*********0.00 EUR Car rental
*********0.00 EUR Insurance
********41.22 EUR Total Paid
I followed the signs "Terminal", but I thought I had lost my way because there was no terminal building - oh yes there was, the building was so small that I didn't realize at first that this is the departure terminal. I went inside and checked in, there were three Ryanair counters open but no queue at all. Then I met Udo who had already checked in, we both had sequence numbers below 65. We went through security and passport control to the gate, I got an additional security search because the machine said "Quote", I think one out of five passengers gets an additional search.
The gate area was small but comfortable. EI-CSP landed from STN, and as soon as the aircraft arrived on the parking position, the two gate agents started boarding into a bus (yes you have to be bussed those 50 meters to the aircraft), the first bus for passengers 1-65 and passengers who need special assistance. As soon as the last inbound passenger had left the aircraft, our bus started the long journey to the aircraft. Ten seconds later, we finally arrived. We boarded through the rear door, and I took my traditional seat on Ryanair 738, seat 32F, Udo took 31F.
This flight was fully-booked, despite the fact that tickets became much more expensive after we had booked, the most expensive ticket was offered for 199.99€. The cabin crew consisted of three females and one male, all in all they were really friendly. Engines were started, and after a short taxi to the runway, we took off at 10:04. There is not much to tell about cabin service, we both didn't order anything. All in all, they seemed to sell quite a lot of tea to the English passengers, but apart from that they didn't sell much.
It was very cloudy, we didn't see much until we reached Ostende, passed the Channel and entered British airspace somewhere around Southend. On approach to STN, I realized once again how many airfield there are in Great Britain, some of them are active, some of them abandoned, sometimes there is no longer a runway, but you can easily see where there used to be a runway. Are these former RAF bases?
We landed at 10:12 local time, taxied to our parking position, and Udo and I went directly through passport control to the check-in counters for our respective connecting flight.
01 October 2003
STD: 11:30 ATD: 12:28
STA: 13:30 ATA: 14:21
EI-DAI (with "Nyköping" stickers)
Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt
Photo © Nik Deblauwe
No queue at all, I asked the very friendly check-in agent how many passengers there were booked, "Only about 70" she replied. She had to note down my nationality, I showed her my passport, she wrote "D-E-U-T-S-C-H-L-A-N-D", I told her that this is a German passport. Seems like most German passengers have national identity cards, it seemed like this was the first German passport she ever saw. - Gate number was 47, but when I arrived at the gate after a short security and without passport control, the screens showed a delay of one hour and a gate change, now gate 40. I didn't mind because I had planned enough connecting time, my stay in CRL would become shorter.
EI-DAI landed at 11:50, boarding started at 12:00, only one boarding group because the flight was not full, unfortunately 32F was already taken so I took 31F. The captain made an announcement, he apologized for the delay which was caused by technical problems of the aircraft in the morning.
At 12:28 we started push-back and took off at 12:38. Again nothing to tell about this flight, two male and two female flight attendants, cloudy outside, nobody who bought a meal on this short flight. When landing at CRL, it was raining outside. I saw the two stored SkyTech helicopters, apart from that we were the only larger aircraft on the ground at that time. I said goodbye to the crew, "Hope you brought an umbrella with you!" they replied, because it was raining quite a lot. No I didn't, but my stay at CRL would be very short anyway. After a rather intensive passport control, I went directly to the check-in for my flight back to STN.
01 October 2003
STD: 15:50 ATD: 15:50
STA: 15:50 ATA: 15:50 (how boring!)
I flew on this aircraft before, STN-DUB last December.
Photo © TZ Aviation
Photo © Garry Lewis
Again a very friendly check-in agent, I asked him for the number of passengers, again only about 70, "...although the aircraft has 189 seats", he added. Well, what to do in Charleroi, especially when it's raining outside? I decided to have some Belgian Fries and a cheeseburger in the bistro, quite funny, I spoke English, they replied in French, I have learned French many, many years ago, and they seemed to have learned English many, many years ago - so we understood each other.
Photo © Fabrice Sanchez
Photo © Daems Guy
Then I went to the gate, a short security control, but no passport control. By now there were three Ryanair 738s on the ground: LPL, SNN and STN. The small gate area was quite crowded, still I was lucky to get a seat. Boarding started at 15:30, the last two rows were blocked (probably because the flight was not full), 31F was already taken so I took 30F. A French guy took 30E, I looked at him like I'd say "Hey this flight is not full anyway, do you really have to take this seat?!" so he changed to 30C. At 15:50 (on time) push-back started, followed by the slowest taxiing I have ever seen. Probably we had a slot restriction, but the captain wanted to push back on-time. At 16:03 we took off, and I fell asleep. I woke up shortly before landing. Having arrived at the gate, I left through the rear door and went through a short passport control outside, where I did some spotting and waited for Udo to arrive back from DUB. Then we did some more spotting from that hill near the cargo area.
Photo © TZ Aviation
Photo © Jorgos Tsambikakis
01 October 2003
STD: 19:35 ATD: 19:37
STA: 22:05 ATA: 22:07
Photo © Alexander Gill
Photo © Jörg Thomas
Yes, the aircraft still had the "Auf Wiedersehen Lufthansa" titles.
When we arrived at the check-in for STN-FKB, there was already a line of about 50 passengers who waited for the counters to open. At 17:35, exactly 2 hours before departure the two counters opened, and about 10 minutes later we checked in. This time there were 170 passengers booked. We went to the gate area to do some more reg spotting through the windows near gate 50, a guy from the security wanted to see our boarding passes, and after we had showed them to him, he left again. Then a lady from BAA came and asked us if we were spotters. "Oh no, not again" I thought. But she only wanted to make a passenger survey about how we liked Stansted airport. When she asked us how we would rate security at STN, I replied "Too much!"
Boarding from gate 40 started at 19:15. We knew that the flight would become rather full, so we entered the aircraft again through the rear door, the flight attendant didn't say a word when we entered the aircraft, Udo said "Good evening!", "Hrrr, ev'ning" she replied. 33F, 32F, 31F, ... 26F were taken so we took 25E and 25F. A german businessman took 25D, and later after take-off I noticed how much he felt disturbed by our conversation about airlines that do not have any PTV on longhaul flights, in fact we had one of our famous anti-Lufthansa discussions. This guy simply put a finger into his right ear, and didn't take it out until we landed at FKB. Daniel, Konstantin, Dirk, if you read this: Now you finally know what to do when Patrick and I have another PTV discussion during our next meeting
Before landing, the pilot made an announcement that it's really cold in FKB, only 3°C. Later we found out that this was a mistake, in fact it was 13°C. We landed at 22:03, and while de-boarding we realized that we had flown in the "Auf Wiedersehen Lufthansa" aircraft - we had not realized this when we had entered the aircraft in STN, probably our discussion has been too vivid... Anyway, we didn't have any baggage checked in, so we went directly to the passport control, where we were asked if we had any baggage checked in - probably there were several passengers who had passed passport control, just to find out that they still need to pick up their baggage. - I said goodbye to Udo, walked to my car which I had parked somewhere near the forest, it was hard to find my car because although there were street lamps, they were not switched on - it seems like the airport authority wants to make free parking as unpleasant as only possible. Remember my problem how to leave that parking space without damaging my car? Well I didn't see anything so I simply took the reverse gear and hoped that nothing would happen, and I was indeed lucky. Again it was hard to find back to the highway, no signs at all. Anyway, I arrived back home at 23:30, the end of a great day.
Thanks for reading this report, and as usual, feel free to add your comments, criticism, thoughts...