FR4441: Kerry Airport (KIR) – Dublin Airport (DUB)
FR4446: Dublin Airport (DUB) – Kerry Airport (KIR)
I had wanted to go to the operational trials of Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport since I saw an article in The Irish Times earlier in the year. It explained how volunteers would be requested for rigorous testing of the new terminal before it opens in November to avoid a fiasco like the opening of Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport. The opening of a new terminal at DUB had always interested me as it would be the first operating multi-terminal airport in Ireland, even though DUB was not my local airport and I never usually use DUB for origin/destination flights.
I learned that applications were being taken on the Dublin Airport Authority website here on the Irish thread on Airliners.net for trials during the months of August, September and October. I applied and hoped for the best. A few weeks ago I got an e-mail informing me that I had been selected and to choose from one of three trial dates. Saturday 9th of October suited me best so I booked the day off work and the return flights from Kerry Airport. I had always intended to fly has I had never flown commercially out of KIR and the only Irish domestic flights I had flown before were Shannon-Dublin so it would be a nice change.
Ryanair operate the Public Service Obligation (PSO) KIR-DUB route; they don’t do well on it at all because three return rotations a day on 189-seat aircraft is quite a lot of capacity for this market so the load-factors were going be interesting. The cheapest fares on this route are about €40 return and I got mine for around this price.
KIR is the nearest airport to my house by road (although SNN is geographically as the crow flies) with a driving time of 40 minutes to Farranfore in Killarney. I had only flown privately out of KIR before so didn’t know what to expect. I arrived an hour before my flight at 05:30 on the morning of Saturday 9th and left my car in the long-term car park.
The KIR-based aircraft EI-DAY which would operate flight FR4441 to DUB
I walked into the terminal and there were about 10 people there waiting for security to open. I went up to the one check-in desk that was open to get my boarding pass checked and stamped because I was travelling on a non-EU passport.
Security opened and we were through in a matter of minutes. KIR has two boarding gates; this morning’s flight was boarding from Gate 1 at 06:00. There are no standard airport seats at the gates – just chairs as you’d see in a restaurant.
Gradually more people joined us and Priority Boarding was called at 06:08. Naturally no one had Priority Boarding passes – you’d be foolish to pay for that on a route like this. General boarding was called next and I was one of the first in the queue. One member of cabin crew helped the agent process the passengers during boarding. I was onboard at 06:11 and chose to sit at the back.
[i[Making my way towards the Boeing 737-800 during boarding[/i]
After I sat down I noticed this between the seats – is the aircraft not cleaned after the last flight the night before? A cabin crew member spotted it however and removed it soon afterwards
My passport and boarding pass
There were four cabin crew on board; only one, the cabin manager, Nick, was Irish. He introduced the flight as “Ryanair flight double four four one”. Rows 3-8 and 30-33 were blocked for some reason. By 06:20 all ~30 passengers had boarded and the doors were closed. The safety demo was done and at 06:22 Captain Gary introduced himself – he had a British accent. He gave an estimated flight time of 30 minutes which turned out to be spot-on. The cabin manager then informed us that the cabin lights would be dimmed for takeoff and landing and that this was normal procedure during the hours of darkness.
Date Saturday, 9th October 2010
Aircraft Boeing 737-8AS
Tail No. EI-DAY
Aircraft Name -
Scheduled Departure 06:30 IST
Actual Departure 06:30 IST
Departure Terminal & Gate Gate 1
Departure Taxi Route A, RWY26
Weather at Departure Overcast, mild, winds S
Scheduled Arrival 07:20 IST
Actual Arrival 07:00 IST
Arrival Terminal & Gate Pier D, Gate 105
Arrival Taxi Route RWY10, E5, B5, B4, H2, H1, Gate 105
Weather at Arrival Fog, winds SE
Seat No. 29F
First Officer James
Cabin Manager Nick
Actual Flight Time 30 minutes
No pushback was required and at 06:26 the engines were started followed at 06:30 by taxi to the right towards Runway 26. I noticed the control tower was in complete darkness – are flights from KIR at this hour controlled from SNN? Once we reached the end of Taxiway A we backtracked the small piece of runway to our right before turning 360° for immediate takeoff at 06:33. The runway at KIR is 2000m long so can accommodate fully loaded aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 757-200.
It was very dark onboard and outside so I couldn’t get any decent pictures. The captain informed us 10 minutes later that we were flying at 23,000 feet and conditions in Dublin were foggy and the temperature was 11°C before wishing us a pleasant onward journey. The first glimpse of daylight was seen inflight towards the east. We were only cruising for five minutes before the descent was initiated at 06:46. At 06:50 the “10 minutes to landing” announcement was made for cabin crew who were selling the usual snacks and scratchcards. I noticed that very little (if anything at all) was sold.
At exactly 07:00 we touched down on DUB’s Runway 10 and exited via Taxiway E5, 20 minutes early. Nick thanked us for flying with Ryanair through Irish which was a nice touch and something I never thought I’d see on FR. En route to the gate we stopped on Taxiway H1 to let “a Lufthansa Airbus” vacate our parking stand. We arrived at Pier D, Gate 105 at 07:07. The built-in airstairs were not used during departure or arrival.
We seemed to be the only arrival and only one Garda National Immigration Bureau desk was open in Pier D. The plain-clothes officer didn’t check any documentation just waved us through.
Once I came out through arrivals I went straight up to the Food Court for breakfast at Starbucks.
I had a few hours to kill as registration for the trial wasn’t until 11:00 so I went into The Eating Place and watched the movements outside:
Etihad Airways flight EY42, an Airbus A330-200 going to Abu Dhabi
Air France Cargo flight AF6457, a Boeing 747 arriving from Chicago
Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) flight SK538, a Boeing MD-80 going to Copenhagen
Swiss International Air Lines flight LX400, an Airbus A320 arriving from Zürich
Aer Lingus flight EI105, an Airbus A330-300 going to New York
Aer Arann flight RE282, an ATR42 arriving from Derry
American Airlines flight AA93, a Boeing 757-200 going to Chicago
Aer Lingus flight EI133, an Airbus A330-300 going to Shannon and onwards to Boston and Continental Airlines flight CO126, a Boeing 757-200 recently arrived from Newark
So 11:00 wasn’t long coming and it was time to go down to Check-in Area 14 to register for the Terminal 2 trial. When I went down there was a small crowd in line. At the end of the hall were two large screens with a video of a woman talking about what would happen. I was directed to a desk where I was asked to present ID and sign in. I was given a script which told me my fictitious name (Janet Oyster) and flight details (Aer Lingus flight EI9992 to Faro at 13:30) as well as a green badge that said “Trial Volunteer” which had to be worn at all times. I was then directed across the hall to refreshments which consisted of a fruit danish and fruit juice. When ready I went back upstairs and was guided to Terminal 2 by DAA staff at every corner. There seemed to be so many of them and they were very helpful.
Apologies for the lack of pictures – we were told that photography was not permitted during the trial.
When I reached the terminal (which looks magnificent from the outside), I was given two bags to check in. Aer Lingus will occupy about half of the check-in space in T2 (desks 29-56). There was a big crowd already in the queue for check-in; there were about 2,000 volunteers expected through the day in all. On the script it said that they wanted to undertake a rigorous test of the check-in procedure so we would each check-in a bag three times. I eventually got to a desk and put the bag on the belt (the bags weren’t empty, never checked what they used to fill them). She didn’t take my fake details and I went around to join the queue again and repeated the procedure. Each time I joined the queue, an Aer Lingus check-in agent put a different coloured sticker on my badge to indicate how many times I had checked in. I went around the final time with another bag and I finally got my fake boarding pass for FAO.
There was a good mix of people at the triail – old and young, families and business people, and locals just interested in what was happening at their airport. I went upstairs to security (which is up two levels – the first floor is for arrivals which I thought was quite a strange layout) and a full security procedure was done. The whole thing took about 10 minutes and then I was allowed to go to Pier E, Gate 422 to wait for my “flight”. There were tables of sandwiches, fruit, tea/coffee, crisps and water along the pier for the people who wanted lunch. I had spicy chicken. I wandered down to the very end of the pier only to see the Air France Cargo 747 taxiing for departure to Paris. A good crowd of people came to see it takeoff from Runway 10 – directly in front of us. I then went back to my gate.
Aer Lingus “flight EI9992”, an Airbus A330-300 (EI-ORD/St Maeve) parked at Gate 422
High hopes from the DAA with these markings – Airbus A340-500/Boeing 747
Siobhán Moore, the spokeswoman for the DAA then came and gave a speech thanking us for giving up our Saturdays to help them. She showed us a picture of the existing terminal check-in areas in June 2007 which, as she described it, was “nose-to-armpit” and that we were here to ensure that congestion would never happen again. I was used to seeing this woman on the news whenever DUB was mentioned and she seems very friendly and professional. I then filled out the evaluation form on the back of the script and the quiz where prizes could be won.
Boarding was called at 13:00 and we all boarded without any particular pattern. I never paid any attention to my seat number on the boarding pass which turned out to be 3G – Business Class! The seats and in-flight entertainment system were not available to operate though.
When we were all on board the captain, Peter Little introduced himself and said “unfortunately we’re not going anywhere; they didn’t put enough fuel onboard for us to escape!” Then the Aer Lingus Chief Operating Officer, Trevor Jenson, welcomed us and outlined how important the day was for the company. He said that Terminal 2 would be Aer Lingus’ home for at least the next 40 years so everything had to be perfect. He gave a “special thank you” to the cabin crew on board – one half had already been to Düsseldorf and back and the other half had been to Paris and back. I thought this was interesting in the heated battle going on between cabin crew and management at the moment. The air hostess in the Business Class cabin stood there expressionless throughout. Then the raffle for prizes was held and the three winners were announced.
We were onboard about 10 minutes before leaving again.
As we came off the airbridge we were given new scripts as arriving passengers where we had to go through GNIB, collect one piece of baggage and through customs. All this was done very fast and I was out through arrivals before I knew it. The meet-and-greet area is very small though, that kind of surprised me. We were then directed outside and back into departures to fill out the evaluation forms, enter the DAA competition for prizes and get another snack before concluding the trial. I was finished at 14:00 and went back to Terminal 1.
Since it was over a lot sooner than I expected it to be, I decided to chance my arm and get on an earlier flight back to KIR. I had been booked on the 22:40 flight. I stood in the queue for the FR desk for no less than half an hour and when I finally got there I was told what I had been expecting: I’d have to buy another ticket for the 15:30 flight which was €115. No thanks. So I got on the Aircoach into Dublin city for a few hours.
The General Post Office where, on 22nd April 1916, Ireland was proclaimed a republic
The Garden of Remembrance, commemorating all those killed by the British in the subsequent fighting
Never got the idea behind this…
Looking west on the River Liffey
Daniel O’Connell – one of the fathers of the State
Where I was dropped off and picked up by the Aircoach – outside the Gresham Hotel on O’Connell Street
I spent two and a half hours in town before getting board and deciding to head back to the airport.
Why is there an Aer Lingus plane above the door of this pub?
I got something to eat at McDonalds upstairs before going through security do some planespotting.
When I got to my gate in Pier D (Gate 108), there would be two FR flights going to Edinburgh and London (Stansted) before ours.
The folder my T2 script came in
FR4446 was the second-last flight of the day to leave Dublin; just before a flight to Liverpool at 22:50.
Before I knew it boarding was called for our flight at 22:15. I watched the plane arrive from KIR beforehand and the handful of people getting off. The actual load factor would be 11% or just 20 passengers of a possible 189. Once again there were no Priority boarders. The doors were closed at 22:21 and we were pushing back two minutes later.
Date Saturday, 9th October 2010
Aircraft Boeing 737-8AS
Tail No. EI-DLK
Aircraft Name -
Scheduled Departure 22:40 IST
Actual Departure 22:23 IST
Departure Terminal & Gate Pier D, Gate 108
Departure Taxi Route Apron 6, G, RWY16, M2, B4, B5, B6, B7, E7, RWY10
Weather at Departure Overcast, winds SE
Scheduled Arrival 23:30 IST
Actual Arrival 23:07 IST
Arrival Terminal & Gate Gate 1
Arrival Taxi Route RWY26, A
Weather at Arrival Fog, winds S
Seat No. 10F
First Officer Damien
Cabin Manager Ciara
Actual Flight Time 44 minutes
We didn’t enter Runway 10 all the way at the end; we had some good runway behind us as we began rolling at 22:32. The takeoff must have been one of the shortest I’ve ever experienced at only about 10 seconds. After takeoff we turned left out over Dublin Bay and got great views of the city from the east.
”Phone-use permitted” sign was not used on this flight
Descent started at 22:51 and at 22:53 the cabin manager, Ciara advised us of our final approach. Again, lights were turned off for takeoff and landing. At 22:57 the landing lights were illuminated and the captain gave his “10 minutes to landing” briefing. The approach to KIR was very turbulent and swingy. We touched down on Runway 26 at 23:07 and backtracked the runway to exit at Taxiway A. Doors were opened at 23:20 and I was out in the car park about two minutes later. Not a sniff of immigration staff were present although there were two customs officers. The terminal was empty when I came out through arrivals. Parking for the day cost me €6; KIR is a very easy airport to travel through – I was impressed. I don’t know how FR are going to operate this route commercially without PSO-protection starting next month. This is a route that demands frequency and smaller aircraft to be operated economically – both of which FR don’t offer.
A few facts about DUB Terminal 2:
• It will open next month
• Aer Lingus will be the primary user and will move in on a phased basis beginning in 5 weeks with London (Heathrow) flights
• The other airlines to move in are American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Etihad Airways and US Airways.
• T2 will be the second terminal outside North America to offer US Customs and Border Protection preclearance (after Shannon Airport)
• Two confirmed airline lounges – Aer Lingus Gold Circle and Etihad Airways
• 19 airbridged-gates
• It has taken more than 9,000,000 man-hours to build
Thanks for reading,