I N T R O D U C T I O N
It was only September when a couple of friends and myself decided we wanted to go somewhere together for our Christmas holiday. After a lot of negotiating we decided we would like to go to visit Dublin for some days since none of us had ever visited the city before. I got appointed to search for appropriate flights. Lucky me!
Aer Lingus is the only airline which flies to Dublin out of Amsterdam so it wasn't really a huge search. Soon found appropriate but very boring flights and e-mailed my friends about the flights. I was not happy about the flight I had proposed at all. Flying a boring Aer Lingus A320 is not the most fun flight I can imagine.
Not all of us were traveling on the same date. So I decided to treat myself on something new, special or at least a little more exciting than the boring Airbus A320 from Aer Lingus, which I had already flown on once before. I looked at all possible flight combinations but I found it very hard to find something special for a reasonable price.
Before I knew it my friends booked the flights for me and I got stuck on one of Aer Lingus' Airbuses. No exciting new plane for me this time. However, I kept searching for good deals out of Dublin and found a nice day-return to Glasgow. DUB-GLA on an ATR-72 from Aer Lingus Regional and back with Ryanair on a 738 from Prestwick. The following day when I wanted to book the flights after asking (more like telling) my friends that I would be gone to Scotland one day, prices had gone up and I didn't feel that comfortable with booking it anymore.
And yet a few hours of searching followed. My patience got paid out when I found a good deal, on a appropriate day on an interesting aircraft type and with an small little airline: Dublin-Galway, Aer Arann, ATR-42 or ATR-72 for just €15 (YES, THAT WAS ALL!) one way all tax included. After spending some time gathering information about Galway and how to get back (train, bus or plane) I booked a one-way flight.
O N L I N E - C H E C K I N
After a relaxing day with my mates in the city of Dublin it was time to check in for my Aer Arann flight on the hostel-computer. After filling in my booking-code I got the option to select a seat. For no extra charge!! Lucky me; what seat should I choose? Props are more fun in the front of the plane so I hoped one of the window seats on the first or second row would be still available. The window seat furthest to the front which was still available was on the third row. Good enough. At this time I also noted that the flight would be operated with an ATR-72! I was very excited about this since I just like the look of the ATR-72 a bit better than the look of the ATR-42. And it's a lot newer too. Anyway… when I completed check-in I found out that I could not print my boarding pass since they did not have a printer for public use in the hostel. This meant that I had to print my boarding pass at the airport. The question was: would I be "fined" for not printing my boarding pass myself?
P R E F L I G H T
My flight would depart from terminal 1 at one o'clock so I wanted to be at the airport at around 11 meaning leaving for the airport at tenish. A little late, I was waiting at the bus stop at College Green at 10:15AM. The bus turned up on time and somewhat later I got off at the bus stop right in front of terminal 1. I went inside and had a look on the first flight information screen I came across. Check-in for my flight was at area 9. It was busy in terminal 1 but I didn't have any trouble to find the area because the terminal is small and it was clear where I had to go.
1. Entrance to terminal 1
2. Check in for my flight was at area 9.
3. Terminal 1
4. Aer Arann adverisment. I must be in the right area
In great contrast to the check-in areas of Ryanair and Aer Lingus, the check-in area of Aer Arann was quiet. In fact there was no queue at all in front of the check-in desk! The Aer Arann employee behind the desk didn't seem to be having a very hard time and maybe that's why she smiled so friendly when I arrived at the desk.
-"Good afternoon! How are you?" she started.
-"Very well thank you, how about yourself?" I replied
-"I'm fine. Where are you traveling to today?" and then I saw her smile again.
I told her I had checked in online the day before and handed her my booking confirmation. In no time she handed me my boarding pass. She highlighted the departure time on my boarding pass and pointed me to the priority/domestic security line. There was no charge for not printing my boarding pass. "Will the flight be operated with an ATR-42 or ATR-72?", I asked her. She told me that the flight would be operated with an ATR-42. I thanked her and left the desk. She didn't shout "NEXT PLEASE!", when I left since there were no other passengers waiting for check-in.
5. A real paper boarding pass. I like it
All around Dublin Airport I noticed adverts for the recently opened and all new terminal 2. The pictures on the posters really made me wonder what terminal 2 looks like in real live. Why not have a short look around the new terminal, I thought. I had plenty of time and it was just a short walk anyway. I followed the signs and soon I found myself in the new terminal. The first thing I noticed was that it was very clean and very quite. I don’t think it’s in operational use yet. Aer Lingus, the only airline which will use terminal 2, has got good reasons to be proud of this new terminal. The ceiling is high and it has got an extremely spacious feeling compared to terminal 1.
6. A very empty departure hall
7. Terminal 2
8. Still spotless
9. Elevator to the gates
10. Airlines which will be using the all new terminal 2
After a short walk around terminal 2 it was time to head back to the other terminal for my flight to Galway. I queued the short line at the domestic security line and passed security within five minutes.
The air-side is very nice. It's got loads of shops and even more coffee-kiosks and restaurants. Since I didn't have any breakfast I treated myself to a blueberry muffin. The photo's give a good impression.
11. I'd like to call this shopping boulevard Dublin
12. I had to head to gate 205 for my flight
13. Dublin has lots of shops and restaurants which is really nice
14. My first encounter with EI-CPT, my plane
15. Close up
16. One of the many small restaurants in the terminal
17. Just a few more minutes before boarding RE233
F L I G H T
Airline: Aer Arann
Registration number: EI-CPT
First flight: 9 May 1990
Delivery to Aer Arann: 27 April 2001
Previously in service with: Inter Canadian, Italian Air Force
Photo © Ian Howat
Photo © Stewart Andrew
Photo © JRC
Photo © Artur Zak
When I arrived at the waiting area I counted exactly four passengers for the flight. I took one of the many empty seats which looked out over the tarmac with our ATR-42 parked on it. The closer it came to boarding time the more passengers arrived. The lady from the check-in desk was also present at the gate. At about 12:45PM, 15 minutes before scheduled departure time, she opened the door and announced boarding in a very friendly way. "On behalf of Aer Arann, we wish you a very pleasant flight". At this time approximately eight passengers were in the waiting area. There was no rush at all when boarding started. There was no need to rush either since the flight seemed to be very empty that day. I got up and got my boarding pass and passport out of my pocket and walked to the exit. She checked the boarding pass and wished me a good flight.
18. EI-CPT was quite a walk from the gate.
19. Walking over the tarmac
20. The wingspan of the ATR-42 is larger than its length what you can really see here.
21. The most front section of the ATR-42 is a cargo section.
22. Really beautiful T-tail.
23. Final shot before boarding.
It was a short walk to the airplane which was parked in a strange corner between the main terminal building and one of the corridors. Funny enough, the main door of the ATR-42 is not at the front of the plane but at the rear end. While taking photos of literally everything I climbed the steps and boarded the plane. I was warmly and personally welcomed by the only (working) flight attended on board the flight. She smiled to me and told me my seat was a window seat on the right hand side of the plane. Of course I knew exactly where I would find my seat.
I had to walk through the entire cabin to get to my seat. I had to take about 4 steps to do so. "This plane is so small", was the first thing I thought. I stored my backpack in the very small overhead compartments and took my seat. The window I had was spotless and offered a really stunning view of the engine. Since it was raining at Dublin Airport the window was covered with raindrops but these would quickly disappear after takeoff. I was so excited about everything!
24. This would be my seat for the next 45 minutes
25. Window view.
26. First of many engine photos I took.
Since there were so few passengers on today's flight boarding was soon completed. The very jolly female flight attendant announced over the intercom that she would be on board for our safety and comfort. The first announcement was in Gaelic, the second in English. She said she would be delighted if we would pay attention to the safety briefing she demonstrated. Since there is usually just one cabin crew member onboard the ATR-42 aircraft, the safety briefing is prerecored and played while the flight attendant demonstrates how to fasten and open your seatbelt and how to put on the life jacket. At Ryanair they also have a prerecorded safety briefing and I really disgust is. It's like you are listening to a computer. At Aer Arann, they'd like to do it a little different. It's a real and polite voice (was it really her who we heard?).
The flight attendant meanwhile pointed at the emergency exits, demonstrated how to open the safety seatbelt and showed us how to place our life jacket over our head. I don't think the aircraft is equipped with oxygen masks since nothing was mentioned about this.
I was smiling all during the flight and also when I paid attention to the safety briefing. When she noted this she smiled back at me.
Meanwhile we were pushed backwards onto the taxiway and the engines were started. That engine was so close. You could not only tell this by the view out of my window but also by the sound. It's really such a great sound! Even when the engines are idle. When we started taxiing I felt and saw the propeller trembling. It was so fascinating to feel every move this plane made while taxiing.
27. Engine start up. What a sound!
28. Taxiing to the runway
29. Line-up before a Ryanair 737-800
I was the person closest to the emergency exit. While taxiing, the flight attendant came to me to ask me (at that time I think she knew I was crazy about the aircraft so she rather told me, since she knew I wouldn't mind and in fact be delighted to do so) to open the emergency exit in case of an emergency. She handed me a special emergency exit safety card which displayed how to open the exit door. Each passenger also got a free newspaper at this time.
After a short taxi we turned onto the runway and held for a minute or so. The engines became louder and louder and the cabin was trembling even more. Brakes were released and we began our take-off roll. This little ATR-42 felt very powerful to me and very soon we were up in the air. Almost immediately the landing gear was retracted and the engines were on full throttle only for the take-off roll.
30. And airborne
31. Between two layers of clouds
Since the clouds were very low, only seconds after airborne we were in the clouds. Just a few small bumps. Amazing that such a small aircraft can cut thru those clouds so easily. Bit by bit I noticed more blue sky outside my window. Then suddenly, the most beautiful view ever! Crisping clear blue skies all around! With a beautiful all white propeller right in front of me. WOW! That aircraft must have felt like a movie star: I couldn't stop taking pictures.
32. Welcome to heaven! Where the sun always shines!
33. Just breathtaking
Ten minutes in flight the fasten seatbelt signs were turned off and the friendly stewardess announced that she would be coming around the cabin with the beverages and the small snacks which were on sale. The announcement was very unlike Ryanair, where they usually mention every single item on the menu over the intercom.
As this service started at the front of the plane I was the first to be asked if I'd like to have something to eat or drink. I bought a bottle of water for €2. When giving her the money I asked her if it was alright if I'd walk around the cabin and take some photos. "Sure, go ahead" she replied.
Hell and did I go ahead with taking photos. The other passengers must have thought they were in the aircraft with a loony. I didn't care what the other passengers thought. I was only interested in those beautiful engines. I walked all around the cabin and took photos of it from every possible angle. At the front of the airplane it is very noisy, while in the back you hardly notice you are flying a prop.
35. View of other side of aircraft.
36. Rather narrow wing and dull view from the rear of the plane.
37. Best view of the engines is from the first row which also faces backwards so you don’t have to turn back.
Just a little more about the cabin. Well, it's dated but fine. Overhead compartments are very small! Seats are small too but are able to recline a little. Legroom was surprisingly good! The best thing about the cabin layout is that the seats at the first row (at the emergency exit) are actually placed backwards.
38. Emergency row(s)
39. Cabin from the front
40. Cabin from the back
41. Huge windows onboard this ATR-42!
42. Overhead panel
When I was in the back of the cabin I thought that I ought to give the flight attendant an explanation for my somewhat weird behavior. "This is the best aircraft I have ever flown on", I started. "Hehehe, so you fly quite a bit, I understand". I had a nice conversation with her about the differences between the ATR-42 and ATR-72 and I told her that I didn't have a good reason to go the Galway.
When walking back to my own seat, our captain informed us that he had started the descend. It was noticeable. A very steep descend made me feel weightless. A nice feeling.
43. About halfway in flight.
Soon the seatbelt signs were turned on and the flight attendant came down the cabin to make sure everyone was seated and had his or her seatbelt fastened. I sure did and was taking photos out of the window for a change. We descended until just above the layer of clouds. Then we rocketed forward. Engines were nearly on full throttle again. Once descended through the clouds we were actually surprisingly low. We rushed down (I don't know if we really had such a high speed or if it just felt like we were going that fast because the airplane is that small) and quickly touched down on the runway. Slowdown followed. Once at taxi-speed we made a U-turn on the runway and taxied to our parking position.
45. Ground, clouds and blue sky in one picture
46. Seconds before touch down
47. On the ground
"A very warm welcome to Galway, ladies and gentlemen" I heard. By the time the arrival announcement had been completed, our aircraft had taxied to our parking position and the engines were turned off. This makes clear that Galway Airport isn't really a big airport. Still, there were four aircrafts parked on the tarmac.
48. Turning on the runway
49. At our parking position
I would have loved to check out the flight deck of this ATR-42. However, since I had to get the only daily bus service from the airport I had to go straight to the bus stop. I grabbed my belongings and walked to the exit at the rear of the aircraft. The flight attendant asked me when I would be going back and I disappointedly replied that I would travel back by bus. I thanked her and went down the two steps onto the tarmac.
The aircraft was parked at the far most parking position so to get to the terminal building we had to cross the entire airport. The walk was about 45 seconds. A really strange and small airport. As mentioned before there were three other aircrafts in at that time, one of which was an Aer Lingus ATR-72 and one was an Aer Arann ATR-72.
50. Overhead bins
51. Buh bye
52. Bye :'(
53. Walking to the terminal
I was the last to enter the terminal building and behind me the door got closed. The terminal was small too. The photos I took capture the entire airport.
P O S T F L I G H T
There is one daily bus service from the airport and this bus service terminates at Galway center. It departed just 20 minutes after my arrival at the airport. My flight had a pretty bad load factor but this bus had an even worse load factor. In fact I was the only one in the bus and after a good 20 minutes I arrived at the center of Galway. My impression of Galway? Well, I really liked the fact that they have got a Quiznos restaurant.
C O N C L U S I O N
Aer Arann proves that cheap flights and great service can be combined. For just €15 I had a very good flight. The ATR-42 is a very nice little airplane. So try Aer Arann out if you get the chance to do so.
Thank you for taking your time to read/view this trip report. I hope you've enjoyed it. All comments are very welcome,
Former flight reviews:
My First Turboprop Flight With FlyBE
Blasting away to CPH on a SAS MD-82
Goodbye to KLM’s F50, or not?
Great flight with Baboo