Shortly followed by a faster than average drive to Stansted and a search for the Long stay parking, which must be closer to London than it is to the airport! After going to Zone L and getting a bus for the 10 minute ride back to the terminal. I telephoned my girlfriend who I dropped off earlier, that I really hadn’t forgotten something and gone home for it in the 20 minutes since I left her.
Check in for Ryanair is remarkably well planned (at least for efficiency if not for comfort). There is 2 check in desks per flight. The desks open 2 hours before departure. The desks close 40 minutes before departure (07.05am prompt), giving 150 passengers 40 minutes to go through security, buy a bottle for the family and make their way to the gate for the 07.45am departure. Yes at 6am every duty free shop is open and trading!
Doing the maths is simple. 150 passengers / 2 gates in 1 hour 20 mins = just under a minute per passenger to check in.
Having read the rules before hand (unlike some unlucky ones who had to pay extra, empty some weight etc). We had 2 bags, 15kg each. 5kg spare!
So we made our way to the gate right at the end of the terminal as far as we could go, followed by a walk down stairs to the end ! I recall the aircraft being EI-DLG. A Boeing 737-8AS with wing tips.
Boarding was via a ramp at the front and rear and we settled just before the wing in 6A/B. A few passengers were late resulting in an uncharacteristic 5 minute late departure from the gate on our flight to Poland.
Ryanair has had an amazing success with routes to / from Poland. LOT Polish airlines until now has had a virtual monopoly on flights within Poland, with exception of Krakow and Warsaw, virtually all Polish airports had a few times daily connection to Warsaw as it’s only scheduled flights. Although domestic flights are WAW centric and reasonably priced (RZE to WAW is 1 hour and as little as £40 return Inc taxes), this is still expensive for many Poles, compared to the approx £10 by train, when many earn £150 a month.
I have flown Ryanair to Poland a number of times and never found an empty flight, compared to Sky Europe, Wizz Air, and Centralwings etc, who appear to follow the Krakow / Katowice and Warsaw centric patterns of LOT with lesser success.
With the opening of the UK to the Polish workforce, the need to commute via Warsaw (£40 to WAW + £140 or so to London / Manchester and an extra 2 hours in the capital) is hard on a workforce earning in the UK and returning home at weekends / holidays! Ryanair’s regional Polish routes to Szczsecin, Wroclaw, Poznan, Gdansk, Rzeszow, Bydgoszcz, and Lodz have opened up Poland to the UK and leaves the door open for the regional airports to the rest of the EU eventually.
As we taxied across the airport the Maxjet flight was making its way to the gate having arrived from the US, as was another parked on the stands. A Germanwings A320 “Visit Berlin” and another advertising T-Mobile was seen.
As we made our way to the runway we held whilst an Air Berlin flight took off with D-ABAB, followed by another Ryanair flight landing and a Czech Airlines CSA flight follows. A Private EU registered plane also landed can anyone identify it?
As we turned a fast take off, saw a Private Air A319 parked in the maintenance area.
The morning sun from the east gave a great view of the channel, passing over the wind farms in the English Channel, and the six old WW2 “Oil Rigs” in the North Sea built by the army to use as a sea based look out station. This was later followed by a clear morning over Belgium and Germany.
In flight Ryanair is basic, drinks and sandwiches available to purchase, including a football shaped sandwich for breakfast (priced at £4.00 !). A Number of world cup goodies were available for sale. Does anyone buy the Ryanair scratch card I wonder? – And why?
At 10.30am (European time) we passed over Krakow with a good view of the city before crossing over Tarnow and over flying over Rzeszow airport.
Rzeszow is located in the south east of Poland, approx 40 miles from the Ukraine border, 2 hours east by train from Krakow. Most passengers on this flight are Polish or Ukrainian heading to towns such as Jaroslaw, Tarnow, Rzeszow and Lvov. Rzeszow flights tend to sell out, however are slight cheaper and tend to offer a lower price for longer than Krakow Ryanair 2x daily flights.
The Airport is a former military base (with the old hangars, some private planes and some old fighters to the east end at a museum), and a new aviation school at the south eastern corner. The airport has 1 tarmac runway, parallel to a grass runway, and another grass runway crossing south east to north east.
RZE has a brand new airport terminal built at the centre of the Runway. The building has modern facilities including 4 check in desks, 4 passport control windows, 1 baggage conveyor, and a small shop. Currently only Ryanair and Lot service the airport. LOT flies 3x daily from Warsaw, and Ryanair from STN. The Frankfurt FR flight was dropped after Christmas. RZE airport can handle 3 scheduled aircraft at a time, however the waiting area is really only comfortable for less than 100 people. Because of this the 150 passengers on Ryanair are cramped in the waiting room, and check in for any subsequent flights would have to wait for a departure first!
As we headed towards Jaroslaw the plane turned 180 degrees and returned for an east-west approach. The aircraft touched down and as we ended the runway, the planed stopped and again 180’d on the tarmac and taxied back to the new airport terminal at the north, centre of the tarmac runway. At this point an army of staff (fuel truck, fire engine, 2 ramp stairs, 2 electric baggage carts came to the plane, and the Passport control staff stubbed out their cigarettes and walked back into the single door immigration entrance.
An improvement since my last visit in December (when we arrived in a blizzard at -20) was a covered walkway from the plane to the building, presumably to keep the 35 degree sun off us! As the immigration hall really only accommodates 40 or so in line, the remaining 100 people queue in a line out doors from the aircraft to the door!
After passport control, we awaited the baggage guy (all one of him) to offload the bags onto the conveyor (and make space for extras). Following the mad scramble we left the building.