Since my family and I live in the States, we only get to see our relatives and friends back home in Ireland and France every few years. When we do visit Europe, we normally don’t see all of our relations. In the spring of 2004 we decided to go meet up with all our relatives and friends and sail down to France for the month of July 2004. It was our first real family reunion.
We booked our flights directly from Aer Lingus on www.aerlingus.com. As many of you know, this website is not very professional-looking, but it gets the job done.
Flight #: EI118
Date: 2 July 2004
Arrival at the Airport and Check-in:
Since we live in Wilmington, North Carolina, our trip up to Baltimore Washington International was quite some trek. A little word of advice: Do not travel through DC during Friday rush-hour traffic. After over eight hours of driving we arrived at BWI roughly two and a half hours before our flight.
BWI is the nicest airport I have every experienced (or at least the international terminal). The only complaint I have is the lack of restaurants and shops in the international terminal. We proceeded to the Aer Lingus check-in counters, where there were literally no lines whatsoever. Check-in was fast and efficient.
We then proceeded to security. The line was 15-20 minutes long. There was only one station open. When we finally got through, then we walked to our gate. Our plane was there and on time. As anyone, who has traveled internationally from BWI, knows that the gate area for international flights is not very big and there is not much to do but sit and wait. My family and I went to the only restaurant in the international terminal. We got something to eat, and then I went around the terminal to get some pictures.
I apologize for the low quality of these pictures, but my camera is a high-tech camera like the ones some of you guys have.
The plane that would take me from the United States to Ireland:
Lorcan O Tuathail - St Laurence O'Toole - EI-EWR - Airbus A330-202:
An Icelandair Boeing 757-200:
FedEx A310 at the cargo terminal:
BA B767-300 bound for LGW (or LHR, I am not sure):
At about 1940 EI118 was ready for boarding. Like always, the business class passengers and passengers in need of assistance were called first. Then they called passengers from rows 9-20 were called. We were the next set of passengers to be called. We walked town the long jet-way to EI-EWR.
Taxi and Takeoff:
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200 EI-EWR
Photo © Alexandru Magurean
Photo © Mark Kopczak
When I stepped onto the plane I was disappointed that our aircraft was not EI-DAA (the only EI plane with PTVs). I walked back to seat 26B. The rest of my family was in seats 26A, 26C, and 26D (I agreed to let my older sister have the window seat.). Boarding was completed quickly. Once boarding was complete, our captain came on to welcome us aboard and tell us that push and start would commence shortly. Once pushed back we taxied to runway 15R (if memory serves me correctly). On the way out to the runway the video screens dropped down to play the safety briefing video. The video was fairly interesting, as the safety briefing is preformed by this amusing computer-generated animated character.
Once we reached 15R we taxied onto the runway and stopped for a second. Then those two large CF6-80E1 engines revved up and we thundered down the runway. Our takeoff role did not last too long. We soon lifted off the runway and into the air. We then set our course to Shannon, Ireland, some two thousand, eight hundred and thirty nautical miles away.
Our flight was fairly uneventful. I won’t go into much detail about it. Upon reaching cruising altitude, the flight attendants started serving drinks and a snack.
Here is my can of tomato juice and some sort of crisps (I apologize for the poor quality. I didn’t want to use the flash):
I suppose it is time for me to talk about EI’s terrible IFE system. I don’t think I have ever seen a worse IFE system. Movies, TV shows, and music videos are played one after another on this row of drop down screens in the center of the aircraft (see picture below). The programs shown were The Simpsons, Everybody Loves Raymond, Laws of Attraction, and a whole bunch of music videos. The worst part was that not once during the flight did the video screens display where we were or how much time we had left in the flight. I sat on that flight wondering how much time was left before we landed (my watch didn’t help because of the time difference). I spent most of the flight looking out the window at the pitch-black, cold Atlantic.
Here is a picture of EI-EWR’s interior:
I was able to find these two pictures of EI-EWR on A.net:
Photo © EDDL Photography
Photo © EDDL Photography
I slept for about half an hour out of this six and a half hour trip. I can’t sleep on planes. One reason is that I am 6’. Finally I saw sunlight.
Sunrise over the Atlantic (I am embarrassed at the quality of this picture):
To my disappointment Aer Lingus did not serve breakfast. Instead, they passed out OJ.
Descent can be summed up in one sentence. It was quick and uneventful. Some spoilers here and some flaps there.
Landing was also uneventful. We touched down on runway 06 at SNN and taxied to our gate.
Transit at SNN:
This is part the part of my story I have wanted to tell you about. Of all my years traveling to Dublin from the US this had to be the worst SNN transit ever. Upon arriving at SNN we were told to get off with all of our belongings. Once off we were not allowed to wait in the gate area. We proceeded to the main part of the terminal. To our dismay we found out EI118 continuing onto DUB would be delayed. We went to ask an EI agent what was happening. She told us to go a particular gate (I can’t remember which one). So we proceeded back to the gate area to find out that EI118 had had an aircraft change. We would be lumped with Dublin-bound travelers who had just come from JFK on EI. Our new plane was an A330-300 (EI-JFK). We would not get the same seats we had from BWI-SNN, so I was determined to get at the front of the line for a window seat. I have never seen such appalling service from airline agents like those of EI on that day. The EI agents were getting angry at passengers for coming up to the gate and asking what was happening. They gave priority to the JFK-SNN-DUB passengers. Then we BWI-SNN-DUB passengers were allowed to board. My family and I got seats on the right side of the plane (right next to the engine!).
Once aboard I was able to relax. We taxied out to runway 06 in light rain and took to the air once again.
The flight was most enjoyable. The crew was friendly and the skies were beeeaaauuutiful.
Arrival at DUB:
Once we arrived at DUB we taxied to our gate and stopped. We waited a little while as they tried to adjust the jet-way. Since they couldn’t quite get the jet-way right, we would exit through door 1L instead of door 2L, so we got to walk through business class on the way out. Business class wasn’t anything amazing, but it didn’t look terrible.
We got through immigration quickly and proceeded to pick up our baggage.
All in all, I think I caught Aer Lingus a bad time. 2004 was not one of their better years. The service I received was terrible at SNN, but the flight crews seemed to be trying hard not to show their frustrations about EI. Most of EI’s employees looked overworked and overstressed. With all its problems EI is still one of my favorite airlines. Dermot Mannion certainly has his work cut-out for him. I am hoping he steers EI in the right direction.
I love EI and hope to see it regain its international status.
On a side-note I was very disappointed to hear EI dropping the BWI-DUB route. I surprised they did. There seemed to be a market there.
I hope you enjoyed this trip report and my awful pictures. I hope to fly EI again soon!
BTW: I really enjoyed my summer in Europe and I hope to post my very enjoyable return trip soon.