Back in November I decided to book a few flights for over the Christmas holidays as I would have 2 weeks off. BA had announced that their DUB-LGW route would be dropped from the Summer 2009 timetable so I was anxious to try it out before they dropped it, as I had never flown with BA on this route. It was also a chance to fly on a 737 Classic, something I don't get to do often these days. So I logged on to ba.com and booked a seat for myself for Dec 21 on BA8085 to London for a very reasonable price, just 58 euro.
Gatwick is one of the very few destinations from Dublin with 3 carriers operating it, namely EI, FR and BA of course. When Aer Lingus resumed services to LGW in 2007, the possibility of BA dropping the route and codesharing with EI on it was always there, and it became a reality a few weeks ago. The loss of yet another full-service carrier at DUB is disappointing, but not surprising as BA's loads on the route are supposed to have been very poor recently. It's also worth mentioning that this is the last remaining BA mainline service to Ireland, however BA Cityflyer do operate a DUB-LCY service.
Anyway, back to the Trip Report!
My alarm clock woke me at 07:00, not too early for once. As I live in Ennis, about 15km from Shannon Airport, I decided to get the train to Dublin. I had considered jumping on the EI A330 from SNN to DUB, but the times didn't suit. The first departure at 07:00 was too early, the 11:40 departure would have been ok, but if it was delayed any bit it I would have missed the connection so I didn't take the risk. It was subsequently delayed 2 hours so it proved to be the right decision......
The train departed Ennis at 07:50
Commuter Train - showing it's age
At 08:30, I arrived in Limerick, and changed train for Dublin Heuston which departed at 08:35.
Intercity Train - very comfortable
I bought a cup of tea. At 10:55 I arrived in Dublin
I then got the Airlink bus to DUB at 11:05. These buses run every 30 mins from Heuston Station to the airport. The journey lasted 40 mins and cost 6 euro.
On arrival, I headed in the direction of Terminal 2 which is to open in 2010 to take some photos. A lot of work had been done since I last saw it in September.
Aer Lingus Head Office, isn't it a lovely building?
Anyway I headed for Departures which was very busy. It was one of the peak travel days of the year and DUB clearly showed the signs of it.
Dublin Airport Departures - the lady in pink is one of the DAA Customer Care staff, it's hard to miss them with those dazzling jumpers!
DUB was nicely decorated for the holiday season
Then it was time to get down to business.
Date : 21 December 2008
Flight : BA8085
Route : DUB - LGW
Aircraft : B737-436
Reg : G-DOCF
Class Euro Traveller
Scheduled Dept Time : 14:25
Actual Dept Time : 14:30
Scheduled Arrival Time : 15:45
Actual Arrival Time 15:40
G-DOCF entered service in 1991 and was delivered to BA the same year. The Polish world tail could be seen on this aircraft up to 2005.
Photo © Alex Christie
Photo © Frank Schaefer
Photo © Christian Béchir
Photo © DAI - Dutch Aviation Images
I headed to Area 2 to check in for BA8085 to LGW. I tried to check-in using the BA Self Service kiosks, all was going to plan until the last step when it asked me to insert the credit card used to book the flight. I hadn't it of course. This was not a feature of the EI SSK's and I hadn't used the BA ones before. I was at the airport 2.5 hours in advance, and looking at the unmanned check-in desks in front of me I wondered how long I'd have to wait. People came and went using the SSK's to check-in, no bother at all. I didn't really mind though, there was good atmosphere around!
The Aviance check-in agent eventually arrived 30 mins later and she checked me in and I got my boarding card. She was very friendly, as were the Aviance check-in agents for the BD flight to LHR. They all seemed to be very happy doing their job, and were very professional.
I then headed upstairs for a snack. I had tea and a muffin and sat down for a while.
Ryanair Ticket Desk
Aer Lingus Premier Class Check-in desk
Afterwards I proceeded to security screening. Some of the security agents were very humourous today. As I walked through the metal detector, it beeped. The officer asked how old I was. "16" I replied, and he told me to go back again. No problem the second time round, "Well your 17 now " he joked and they had a good laugh over it. Is this one of those compulsory jokes at security screening or something? I laughed too and said goodbye to them.
I had a quick look around duty free and then headed for Pier B. BA8085 would be departing from Gate B28. Pier B is the most convenient boarding pier at DUB and doesn't require a long walk like Pier A and D. It's the only pier with airbridges and is used mainly by long-haul carriers, full-service carriers and most EI flights to LHR also depart from Pier B.
There wasn't a huge variety of traffic on the ramp at this time of day
BD A320 bound for LHR
It was a wet day at DUB, and as it got even wetter, it made taking pics even harder.
EI A321 preparing for departure to LHR
Pier E over there in the process of being built
The CO flight to EWR was delayed by over 3 hours due to the late arrival of the 757 caused by bad weather in EWR. The flight departed just before mine. Virtually on-time
My aircraft today, G-DOCF arriving on stand.
At 14:00 boarding commenced
Again the Aviance gate agents were very friendly. We were held up in the airbridge for over 5 mins for some reason.
One of the male members of cabin crew greeted us at the door and was very cheerful. There were 4 cabin crew onboard today, 2 male and 2 female. They were all very professional. I took seat 24A for a few mins and asked one of the female FA's standing at the rear of the aircraft if it would be ok to take some pics of the cabin. There was no problem.
Despite the cabin showing it's age, BA have looked after it well, and it was very clean.
A very wet day out at DUB
I then moved across to 24F
The captain welcomed us all onboard and gave a brief description of our routing and the weather in LGW. We pushed back and the crew performed the safety demonstration.
Take-off today was from RWY 28. It was slightly turbulent after take-off but nothing too serious.
When we reaching cruising altitude, the service began without delay.
I got a cup of tea and this dolly mixture of nuts and stuff. A small snack but tasty all the same.
I couldn't do a TR and not include this........
There was a young rugby team onboard. They were all asleep and didn't avail of the service. I had chosen seat 24F hoping that some of the surrounding seats would be left vacant and they were. The 2 seats next to me, the one in front and behind me were all free, meaning I had plenty of room and it was very comfortable. The legroom was generous, as was the recline. In stark contrast to my flight home with FR.
Highlife magazine - December 2008
Some more inflight pics
After a short read of the magazine and a song or two on my iPod, we began our descent into LGW
Landing at LGW - RWY 26L
Cabin photo after landing
The crew welcomed us to LGW and we taxied to the North Terminal. Most of the widebodies had already departed.
I said goodbye to the crew and as we were parked at an international stand, we had to get the bus to UK/Ireland Arrivals.
North Terminal arrivals was very busy and I headed up to Departures again. I had a look around at the shops for a while and then took the BA shuttle train to the South Terminal as that's the terminal Ryanair use.
Nice Christmas tree in the South Terminal
I headed out towards the perimeter road for some spotting for half an hour. From here, you can get photos like these (took these last summer)
Time to go back inside.
Date : 21 December 2008
Flight : FR1185
Route : LGW - SNN
Aircraft : B737-800
Reg : EI-DWL
Seat : 31F
Class : Economy
Scheduled Dept Time : 21:45
Actual Dept Time 22:05
Scheduled Arrival Time : 23:10
Actual Arrival Time : 23:10
Load Factor 99%
Photo © Pere Davesa - Iberian Spotters
Photo © Paul Spijkers
I had already checked-in online. ryanair.com states that passengers between 14-17 "do not qualify for online check-in". Anyone know why? I'm just 16 and have used online check-in several times and have never had a problem.
At this stage I was getting hungry so I went to Frankie and Benny's restaurant to get something to eat. Again it was very busy and the food was ok. Shortly after that I proceeded to security screening and headed to the Servisair Lingfield lounge.
It cost me £18. This lounge is not impressive. It was basic, outdated and looked very worn. The walls were in desperate need of some paint. The floor was dirty and the selection of drinks was very limited. I wasn't expecting much but it's not very attractive. On saying that though, the lounge staff were friendly and there was good views of the ramp. There was also free wireless internet access available which kept me entertained. Anything was better than being stuck outside in the busy departure lounge for almost 3 hours!
At 21:05, it was time to leave and head to the gate for the flight back to SNN. Boarding tonight was at Gate 10, about a 5-10 mins walk from the departure lounge. When I reached the gate, it was clear that the flight was packed out, the place was flooded with people.
I'm not a big fan of Ryanair, but I'm not one to criticise them either. I use them because it's the most convenient way back to SNN. Almost all my flights on FR have been cheap, on time, and they get the job done.
Boarding was called at 21:15 and the usually rush of people towards the gate agents began. It's a pity FR don't assign seating, it would help keep boarding more civilised....
There were 4 cabin crew onboard as usual, 2 male and 2 female. We were greeted at the door by one of the crew. Boarding took slightly longer than usual because the stairs at the rear was not used.
The dazzling yellow in the cabin
Two passengers failed to turn up so their luggage had to be offloaded. This led to us being delayed by 15 mins. The captain welcomed us onboard and gave us a detailed description of our routing.
One thing I noticed was the huge amount of luggage being carried onboard. Towards the end of boarding, the crew were trying to force the luggage into the overhead lockers, the crew were struggling to close them because they were so full. One lady came back and asked one of the crew to find a place for her bag, since there was no room. He ended placing it under one of the seats in the last row. It just didn't appear very safe to me to be stuffing the overhead lockers to such an extent.
The crew performed the safety demonstration. One of the crew burst out laughing during one of the safety announcements for some reason. Plenty of heads turned as you can imagine! Not very professional at all. We pushed back at 22:05.
The flight was uneventful, I didn't bother purchasing anything from the BOB menu.
We landed on time back in SNN - RWY24. There was 4 other FR aircraft on the ground. I said goodbye to the crew and headed into the baggage hall. The airport was busy with many coming home for Christmas. I took a couple more photos and then headed home.
Overall I enjoyed the day out, particularly the BA flight. It's almost 4 years since I last flew BA and from this short experience, it appears BA are still a very professional airline and provide a great service. It will be a pity to see their DUB-LGW route being dropped in 2009.
Thanks for reading, I hope it was ok. Any comments and feedback would be appreciated!
I'll be going to LHR next weekend so I'll upload a TR for these flights:
EI132 : SNN-DUB
EI156 : DUB-LHR
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!