I wanted to make a short weekend trip in Europe during my summer holidays in July and was invited to visit an old friend in Dublin. Finnair offered tempting prices, but their early morning departure didn't fit to my plans. Ryanair flies to DUB from Tampere, some 200 km north of Helsinki, but their price wasn't right for that weekend. So, I did some research work and noticed I could fly later on the same day via Manchester, on Finnair and Ryanair, burning more time but not much more money - and I would have a chance to fly on Embraer-190 for the first time. My return flight DUB-HEL would be non stop.
Everything started here, from my neighbourhood in southern Helsinki:
|Home: Helsinki Ruoholahti|
Fri 13 July '07
HEL 16:00 - MAN 16:55
Photo © Radoslaw Idaszak
I did the check-in on line at home, but I arrived at Helsinki-Vantaa early, I hate to rush. HEL can be very crowded these days, but luckily it wasn't too bad this time. I got through the security very quickly, I had only a back pack with me - and I had been careful not to carry too much liquids in there. I had time to get a coffee and enjoy the airport atmosphere, it feels always as good, time after time. As usually at HEL, lot of Asian & European transit passengers wandering back and forth, especially in the non-Schengen area, where my gate also was. The next long hauls, to Guangzhau (Canton) and Hong Kong, would depart soon after my flight.
HEL non-Schengen area, steel & wood...:
|HEL Non-Schengen Terminal|
|Helsinki-Vantaa - very woody|
I had a bus transfer to the a/c, that will be more and more common at HEL, until they get more space & gates in 2009. This time I didn't mind actually, I had a chance to do some plane spotting.
|AY B752 at HEL|
My bird, a shiny new E190:
|AY E190 OH-LKH HEL-MAN|
|AY E190 OH-LKH HEL-MAN|
The boarding was rather slow, I was the last passenger to get in. The E190 cabin looked bigger than I had expected and of course everything was new and fresh, this plane was just few months old baby. The a/c has 100 seats, a tiny C-class section in the front, similar seats though. The seat pitch is AY's regular "32 in Y class, with 2+2 seating. I got two seats for my own use, that flight was perhaps 80 per cent full. Two F/A's on board.
After the take of it took perhaps half an hour before the meal service started. I had pre-ordered vegetarian meal, just for a change - but it was bad idea, the cold portion in a board box didn't look tempting... Luckily the guy on the other side, coming from Mumbai I learnt, didn't get his Hindu meal and he was ready to shift. The chicken salad I got was really nice, better than those tasteless warm meals I have often got on AY flights before. Only cold meals are served in Y on AY Embraers, but it seems not a bad thing at all.
Beer & wine were served free, I got an Australian red wine (well, the only choice actually) and a sparkling wine.
Coffee and tea were served soon also, AY has good coffee, coming from the Robert's Coffee Company.
The F/A serving me was really friendly, when I told her how nice the salad was, he asked if I wanted an extra portion - I sure did.
|AY 937 HEL-MAN E190|
|AY Chicken Salad|
After three hours flight we arrived at MAN. Next four hours were not that comfortable: MAN was very crowded that evening, packed with tired passengers, with screaming kids... and my Ryanair flight was late, a lot.
Well, I though I could handle one more drink and of course, plenty of time for plane spotting:
|MAN airport July 07 - First Choise|
|Man airport July 07 - Hapag-Lloyd Express|
|MAN airport July 07 - City Airline|
|MAN airport July 07 - Euro Manx|
Fri 13 July '07
MAN 19:30 (21.15) - DUB 20:30 (22:15)
Photo © Martin Karlsson
After killing extra 100 minutes at MAN, the FR 557 was finally ready for boarding. A self-printed priority boarding pass in my hand I was among the first to get in, though I first had to make a short run in rain, no passenger bridge available.
I got an exit row seat, so the legroom was fine. The cabin had seen better days - but the cabin crew looked VERY young, perhaps the youngest I had ever seen anywhere. Or is it just me getting old?
The guy sitting next to me really didn't want to understand why he couldn't keep his back under the exit seat, the F/A had to explain the facts long and hard....
The short and smooth one hour flight was soon over. If MAN was busy, so was still DUB, the very temporary-looking Ryanair-pier seemed like a busy bus station. My patient friend was still there waiting for me and drove me to the city of Dublin:
|Central Dublin- The millenium monument|
|Dublin city center - The millenium monument|
|A Dublin sign - In Irish and English|
After a great weekend in one of my favourite cities, with always so friendly Irish, it was time to take the flight back to HEL. Once again I arrived early at the airport, I was prepared for queues but everything was really quick, even the security check. I had done the check-in on line but here I still had to pick the 'real' boarding pass from the desk.
It seems also DUB needs more space, not the most comfortable airport at the moment, but the new terminal is coming. I found a nice self-service restaurant and a delicious snack kept me busy for an hour or so: latte and bread filled with chicken breast, brie and cranberry jam. Yummy!
I had planned to buy some whisky at the airport, but the prices were quite high - even for a Finn. Ireland has become an expensive country, I learnt that now it's officially the most expensive country in EU, Denmark and Finland coming behind.
Some views at DUB:
|DUB airport July 07 - A busy corner|
|DUB airport July 07 - Aer Lingus|
Mon 16 July '07
DUB 18:15 - HEL 23:10
Photo © Helmut Bierbaum
A familiar looking Airbus was ready for boarding in time, no delays. This time a passenger bridge was available, which was nice, the weather was rather rainy. Newspapers (mainly Finnish) were available before entering the a/c, and a senior F/A was welcoming the passengers.
AY 319's still have the older 'fat' seats, rest of the narrowbody Airbuses have got the new slim Recaro-seats. Actually I haven't noticed any huge difference, the Recaro's just look harder. All AY's Airbuses have nose cameras, it makes the take off's always more exiting.
This time I kept my veg meal, not great but ok, the best part of the meal was the free sparkling wine....
|AY veg meal DUB-HEL - free sparkling wine included|
The legroom was fine, similar to what I had on E190:
|AY A319 Seating|
Shopping on board... I had bought the MD-11 "Santa" model earlier:
|AY shopping on E190 HEL-MAN|
The rest of the 3h flight went smoothly, I was too tired to read so just slept and woke just before landing at quiet HEL.
Overall I had a really nice weekend trip, Dublin was great as always and I was happy with the flights, even with the delayed FR 557. Especially the E190 was a pleasant surprise, I didn't expect it to be that comfortable experience.
[Edited 2007-07-31 06:01:31]
[Edited 2007-07-31 06:24:14]