Welcome to my second Trip Report! This one will be less detailed than my first one, but that is simply down to the short notice aspect and the fact that I was shattered getting on the flight this morning... hope you will still enjoy!
Following on from a discussion on the various alliances on the long running Irish Aviation threads, I wanted to check my memberships with the "Big Three". I have "Elite" status with BA Executive Club and AF/KLM Flying Blue, so that was two covered. Although I haven't flown with the Star Alliance carriers recently (mainly down to my own personal focus on Oneworld and Skyteam), I did have LH and BD memberships. On checking my BD details however, my account was not found - it must have been a while!
Long story short, I re-joined this week and received the 9,000 destination mile sign-up bonus (thanks Brian). I took a quick look at fares ex-DUB for this weekend, as I had nothing planned for Sunday and felt like a few flights. In the end I got a round trip to LHR for a little over EUR100 and a chance to try out the BD product again.
Right, enough waffle...
27th January 2008
DUB-LHR with BD (Economy Class)
LHR-DUB with BD (Economy Class)
Dublin - London Heathrow
Date:- 27th January 2008
Sch Dep:- 06.45
Act Dep:- 06.50
Sch Arr:- 08.10
Act Arr:- 08.20
Aircraft Type:- A320-200
Registration:- G-MIDS - 1st flight on this aircraft
Seat:- 21B (moved to 22A)
I booked this trip on Thursday evening and selected the Economy fare. There was not much difference between "Economy" and "Tiny" for the flights selected, but hopefully I will get a few more miles.
Despite receiving the Online Check-in email last night, I decided I would just use the Self Service Kiosk at the airport before the flight, as it was going to be around 5am on a Sunday! I regretted this choice in the end as my first experience with BD staff on this trip was not a good one!
At DUB, there are four self service BD kiosks, with a similar number of desks, which are only for bag drop or priority passengers. Unsurprisingly, looking back at it now, there was a large queue for the four machines. I say four, but only two were working! There was an agent at each of the two functional kiosks and they were obviously trying to move the queue along by flying through the touchscreen selections and only asking the passengers to acknowledge the standard security questions. I did not like the look of this as I wanted to select a window seat for both legs... along with printing boarding passes for both flights. As I approached the front of the queue, the left-most kiosk packed it in, so we were now down to one! At this point, a technician had arrived to fix the first two, so at least they were working on the problem.
When it was my turn, my passport was taken and scanned, but despite requesting a window seat on both legs and confirmation of frequent flyer details, the agent was so focused on getting to the next passenger that she tap tap tapped so quickly that it was all gone in a flash!! I apparently had one window seat by chance, but was being thrown into 21B on the outbound leg! Then of course the kiosk wouldn't print my boarding passes... (I think she skipped that step!!)... so I was told to go to the desks and get them printed... all this after a 15min wait at the SSK in the first place. Anyway, the deed was done and I went to security thanking my lucky stars I only had hand luggage this time as who knows where a case would have ended up thanks to to the click-happy agent!
Security was a breeze. The Dublin Airport Authority has really done a good job in improving this process. It used be a nightmare, but these days it really only takes a few minutes. I think I was only the fourth in line and so was through in no time at all!
After picking up a drink and a quick snack, I wandered down to Pier C to await boarding. There were numerous charter flights coming and going, including my own aircraft which arrived in onto Stand 41 from Plovdiv while I was looking at the varied traffic on the ramp.
Boarding went as normal in that area of the terminal, very smooth, with a somewhat surprisingly small queue in the air-bridge after the boarding card check. I will hazard a guess that the flight was around 70% full (a lot of connecting passengers to the US), with mainly middle seats left vacant... aside from me in 21B! Anyway, the door was shut at 06.40 and I quickly switched into the row behind and got my window seat.
Interestingly, there were two members of the cabin crew that were Irish. The standard "Welcome Aboard" message/introduction was first given in english, but was then repeated "as Gaeilge" for the native speakers. This was a nice touch, but was just down to the crew on that particular flight. It almost felt like EI for a minute!
Our captain gave a quick passenger address to let us know we were being held on stand by ATC, but were still expecting to get away a few minutes after the scheduled departure time. Sure enough, we were underway within minutes and made our way out to Runway 28 via the Apron and then the Alpha taxiway and finally Runway 16. I had heard somewhere that taxiway E1 was back in operation, but it wasn't today, that's for sure. It is an interesting taxi out with all of the construction work going on for Terminal 2. Anyway, after holding for the inbound Delta 112 flight from JFK, we lined up on Runway 28 and were on our way on a LIFFY2A departure over the north of the city.
During his initial PA, the captain mentioned we would have a strong tailwind for the most part and he was right. Within a few minutes of climbing over the Irish Sea we entered rough air and got a nice push in the right direction! The routing today was standard, taking us out towards Liverpool initially before coming in over the Birmingham area.
There was a buy-on-board service offered, but I did not buy anything this time. I wasn't really feeling up to eating much, so just let them pass by. I have included the menu below for anyone that is interested:-
The cabin crew were friendly throughout, but it really wasn't long before we were on our way down into the London area. Despite the initial report of no holding required, the captain came over the PA again to inform us that we were expecting a few circuits now, but we had slowed down in the descent to try to minimise the time spent in the hold... I assume over Bovingdon.
The approach in over the City of London is always special, with great views to be had of LCY, the Thames etc. We finally touched down on Runway 27R, roughly on time. After a short wait, we parked on Stand 102 and were brought by bus to the terminal.
London Heathrow - Dublin
Date:- 27th January 2008
Sch Dep:- 11.15
Act Dep:- 11.20
Sch Arr:- 12.35
Act Arr:- 12.55
Aircraft Type:- A320-200
Registration:- G-MIDZ - 1st flight on this aircraft
Boarding for this flight started at 11am at Gate 82. For anyone that has not experienced a flight to Ireland from LHR, you have to see these gates some time... the metal tubing is very welcoming... not!
This flight was straightforward, straight out departure from 27L, out over Wales and an approach to Runway 28 at DUB in the same blustery winds I had left behind a few hours before.
View from Gate 82
G-BNWX Arrived on 27R
N223UA Taxiing to Runway 27L
SQ Departing Runway 27L
G-VSEA at the Holding Point for 27L
N223UA at the Holding Point for 27L
F-GFKM at the Holding Point for 27L
Cathay Pacific and TAROM
Legroom of BD A320s (for reference, I am 6ft tall)
Cabin on BD125 to DUB
Passing Aberdyfi on the Welsh Coast
Again we had four cabin crew. When it came to the in flight service, the cabin supervisor looked after the Business cabin, while two of the other crew operated the Economy service, with the fourth crew member essentially being the "runner". I didn't think they were going to get through the full service as they had only reached row 19 as we started the descent, but they managed. Again, the crew were all very pleasant and I have no complaints.
Initial Approach to Runway 28 at DUB
Ground Movements in DUB
They still allow light aircraft at DUB
Varied Traffic at Pier C
Pier B had EC-KFM and EI-DUZ... among others
My Flight Parked at Pier C
Aside from the check-in issues in DUB, I can't really fault BD. It does what it says on the tin and I have no real complaints.
The cabin crew were quite pleasant and were happy to deal with various passenger requests.
The flight crew on both flights had no issues with making several passenger addresses during the flight to update on routing, weather, delays, etc. This is something that I find lacking on many airlines these days, so it is nice to see BD keeping it up.
The aircraft were fine, although the seats could be better. The aircraft are also fitted with drop-down screens on which they show the safety video. After that the screens were retracted. It would be nice to have Airshow or something similar. Maybe they do this on longer flights, I don't know.
For anyone that is looking for an easy way to get from the south side of Dublin city to the airport, check out "The Patton Flyer" bus service. Much like the Aircoach, it runs from Dalkey through Dun Laoghaire, Monkstown, Blackrock etc. on out to the airport taking the East Link and the Port Tunnel. Same fare as the Aircoach, but a bit quicker. For now it is only an hourly service, but I picked up the 4am bus and it was practically full heading out. Hopefully they will add capacity soon. I was certainly impressed.
One thing I did catch as we started the roll on 27L was G-YMMM - sad to see the aircraft in this state, but again, at least everyone made it out safely. I last flew on this aircraft from LHR to SIN and onwards to SYD in Club World. A great experience. So long Mike Mike.
Anyway, thanks for reading. Hopefully some of it was of interest. Comments welcome!
My Previous Trip Reports:-
1) DUB-BOS//PWM-JFK-SFO-DUB (EI Inaugural) (by EIDAA Nov 18 2007 in Trip Reports)