Photo © Luis Barcala
One of the benefits of allocated seating is that you don’t have to turn up for check-in at some ridiculous hour and as I live only ten minutes away from MAN I arrived just 45 minutes prior to departure. The draw back of late check-in is that there were no window seats left, but the aisle seat allocated to me was perfectly acceptable for this short flight.
There was only a short wait at security, due to the fact that passengers for the Channel Islands and Ireland can use the staff priority channel. So, in no time at all I was in the departure lounge where a quick look at the screens indicated that I should go to the gate, which this morning was gate nine. Awaiting me was a shiny new A320, which I can’t help thinking look particularly attractive in EI’s livery. Boarding commenced a couple of minutes later though no boarding call was made – it just became obvious that the flight was boarding as everyone rushed forward! The senior cabin crew member was at the bottom of the steps directing people to either the forward or rear doors and as I was in row 15 I boarded through the rear.
The seats in the new A320s are very comfortable and have adequate seat pitch. The flight was absolutely full this morning, I couldn’t see a single free seat anywhere. Dublin is the most popular international route from MAN, evidenced by the fact that three flights (EI, FR and LG) depart at this time of the morning within 15 minutes of each other. Once boarding was complete the doors were closed and we were on our way.
In flight service consisted of the usual Sky Cafe offering, though there weren’t many takers. This might have had something to do with the fact that the cabin crew were very miserable – the worst I’ve encountered on EI – and who wants to buy something from someone with a face like a slapped arse!
We had to hold close to DUB for about five minutes, then made our approach which was quite bumpy due to the very low cloud. Touchdown was firm, followed by what felt like near full reverse thrust. After a short taxi to the stand we disembarked using the forward and rear steps, so in just a few minutes I was in the arrivals hall and heading to the bar for a much needed cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin!
21 July 2005 DUB/SNN
Photo © Torben Guse
DUB was quite busy this morning, so I was grateful to be able to use EI’s self-service check-in machines. When the seat map appeared it was clear that the flight would be close to full, and I was not pleased with my allocated seat – an aisle in the block of four. Fortunately, there was one pair of seats left that had a window available, so I reserved it. It was seat 32K, a nice window seat in the rear section of this A330.
With boarding pass in hand I proceeded to the security queue which was surprisingly short given the number of people in the terminal. As usual, I had to remove my shoes and belt but the whole process was completed in under a minute and I was on my way to the ‘B’ gates area where I soon found my aircraft – a glorious A330-300. I had a couple of hours to spare, so bought another coffee and watched the activity through the panoramic windows DUB very helpfully offers its passengers.
At about 11.30am boarding was announced – Premier customers first followed by economy class by seat row numbers. I was in the first boarding group and was greeted (if that’s the right word) by two more miserable looking cabin crew members who managed to check boarding card stubs without ever having to break off their private conversation – this is a real skill that I’m sure some airlines specifically look for during recruitment! The seat was quite comfortable with ample leg room, though once the aisle seat was occupied next to me it did feel a little cramped.
Boarding was completed relatively quickly and the flight was indeed full. As usual, the screaming kid was in the row behind me – I felt sorry for the poor people who had to endure its screaming all the way to BOS. The safety demo was done on the drop-down screens following which we entered the runway and commenced our take-off run. It didn’t take long before we were heading up into the clouds and on our way to SNN.
As this flight is only 25 minutes there is, of course, no in-flight service. In no time we were descending into a sunny SNN where we touched down smoothly and then taxied the short distance to the terminal. There were two other EI A330s on stand as well as an AC 767 that I had seen depart from DUB just a few minutes before we did. Everyone has to leave the aircraft at SNN where those continuing to BOS have to clear US immigration controls. I was surprised to find that even though this was a domestic flight I had to go through passport control and customs, though I don’t think this delayed me too much.
All in all it was a good flight and I fulfilled my ambition to fly on an EI A330.
21 July 2005 SNN/LPL
Photo © Thierry Deutsch
Check-in opened for this flight exactly two hours before departure. Despite being third in the queue I was given sequence number 67 – I assumed that this was because of a light load resulting in only one boarding group but I later found that some people had been given sequence numbers 1 to 65 so could board first. I though the whole point was that the earlier you checked-in the sooner you could board, but apparently not on this flight – has anyone else had this experience with FR?
Boarding commenced half an hour before scheduled departure and was nothing short of chaos. There was no queue control system so everyone pushed their way to the gate where a very harassed agent just kept shouting “1 to 65 only please”. No one paid any attention to this so in the end she gave up on the priority system and got everyone on. I boarded through the rear steps and was greeted by a friendly cabin crew member (my first today!). I took my seat and was surprised to find that legroom was actually rather generous. The flight was about 70% full so fortunately I had all three seats to myself.
After a short taxi we were airborne. Our route took us over the Irish Midlands, overhead Dublin airport (which was clearly visible), out across the Irish Sea towards the North Wales coast and then down towards LPL. Service on board was quick and efficient though I did find the prices charged by FR for snacks and drinks are much more than other airlines – a bottle of water cost me £1.70 as opposed to £1 on Jet2. Still, the fare was only £20 so I can’t complain.
We arrived at LPL 40 minutes after leaving SNN and were parked close to the terminal entrance, so very quickly I was into the arrivals hall and heading for the bus stop. I took the airport express service to Lime Street station for a very reasonable £2, from where I caught my train back home to Manchester.
An enjoyable day out and three new aircraft to add to my log book!