19 April 2005 MAN/DUB
Photo © Fergul Mc Clean
Quite a long queue at check-in and the miserable looking agent had obviously had a heavy night, yawning away as he (slowly) checked-in people for the first EI flight of the day. He just about managed to mumble ‘window or aisle’ and without saying another word he gave me my boarding card and I was on my way. The line for security was relatively short so I was into the departure lounge in under five minutes. Just about had enough time to grab a Starbucks before the flight was called for boarding. I proceeded to the gate where a shiny new A320 was waiting for me it that fabulous emerald green livery.
The same miserable check-in agent was now on boarding duty, so needless to say he managed to board the flight without saying a single word to anybody. Why do companies in customer facing industries employ people who clearly lack any customer service skills? I was welcomed aboard by a very friendly flight attendant into a very clean and smart looking aircraft. As this particular aircraft was delivered only a couple of months ago it has the new EI interior – dark leather seats of the standard 3-3 economy type (not convertible to business class). The seat was surprisingly comfortable and the leg room was very good. The flight was about 75% full and as luck would have it the centre seat remained empty.
After a swift take off we headed out over the Irish Sea towards Ireland. It was a beautiful day for flying and the North Wales coast was clearly visible as we climbed to our cruising altitude. In flight service was the Sky Café, from which, surprisingly, they were offering the full Irish breakfast on this 35 minute flight! I chose to have just a cup of coffee, very nice it was too at a very reasonable £1.
Soon we were descending towards DUB and after a smooth landing arrived on the stand just about on schedule.
19 April 2005 DUB/LHR
Photo © Kjc Photography
I used the self-service machines at DUB so had my boarding card in a matter of seconds. My seat was 31F, just a couple of rows from the back of the aircraft. Security was very thorough, with everyone having to take off their shoes and belts. Once through security I proceeded to the B gates area, got a cup of coffee and sat by the panoramic windows enjoying the activities on this gloriously sunny morning. Of course DUB is dominated by EI and FR, but there was also a SAS MD-80, a Swiss A319 and a few Aer Arann ATR42s and 72s to add some variety. Before long my flight was called and I boarded my EI A321. This aircraft has the blue and green cloth seats rather than the newer leather seats, though it was still very comfortable and I was surprised at how much legroom there was considering that my seat was in the rear cabin. Does anyone know if EI will fit the new leather seats on their A321s or if they’ll stick with the cloth?
The flight was about 50% full so I had all three seats to myself. After take off I enjoyed another cup of coffee and a snack pack, a selection of savoury treats that were very tasty indeed. Weather towards London was much worse than in Dublin so it was a very bumpy descent and a firm landing. After disembarking there was a long walk to the arrivals area (past the customary Police control point) and through a chaotic baggage reclaim area which clearly couldn’t cope with the volume of people. Fortunately I only had hand luggage so was out into the landside area fairly painlessly.
All in all it was a good trip. I continue to be impressed by EI, though their handling agent at MAN does let them down a little. Whilst I wouldn’t do MAN to LHR via DUB every time it was a nice change and I may well do it again in the future.