CRL sure has come a long way and has boomed ever since Mr O’Leary decided to make it a base for his no frills airline Ryanair. Also Wizzair, Jetairfly and Jet4you have a substantial amount of flight running in and out of this airport. Last year CRL has seen some 5,1 million passengers passing through it’s terminal, which has been enlarged recently as well to cope with increasing passenger numbers.
So a trip departing from and arriving into CRL was the thing I was after. At first I was looking into some flights to Morocco. FR has quite some destinations there on schedule, as well as Jet4you and Jetairfly. I found a good timing into Fez but not a good price so I’ll keep this one for a later date. A further browse on the awfully colored FR site revealed some excellent fares to MAD and coming back some excellent fares from BCN as well. Now that was a giveaway! MAD and BCN are easily connected so I booked CRL-MAD in the morning and BCN-CRL in the evening for € 23 (both flights, priority boarding and all blah blah included).
To connect the 2 dots I wanted to try something new and cheap as well. MAD and BCN are connected through a wide range of (Spanish, what else) carriers: Iberia, Vueling, Spanair and Air Europa. Having been on Iberia metal in the past, this one was ruled out (it was the most expensive flight as well). Timing wise I settled with a flight on Air Europa for about € 58. Little did I know then that this particular midday flight was prone to sometimes long delays but more on that later…
So I was set, being about € 80 lighter in the wallet my day would look like this:
I left my house at about 6h30 for the approximate 1h15 drive from where I live to CRL. One major disadvantage for me when going to CRL is that I have to pass the Brussels Ring Road which on working days can be a serious bottleneck. Some minor delays there but my arrival there was pretty well timed at about 8h00.
Today was not the best day of the year: rain, wind and cold. Your typical Dec day…
CRL’s bag drop off zone, you all know that online check in with FR is mandatory!
Heck, even FR have self service machines here (courtesy of the airport):
Through security in no time, I ended up with my yoghurt being confiscated – never happened to me before at any airport. A short discussion with the security agent lead to nothing of course but my point is: why don’t all airports apply the VERY SAME rules concerning the security screening?
Arrival into the Schengen zone, a right turn for me it is:
Boarding area with the ‘lines’:
Optimal fleet usage on Ryanair? 5 company B738’s sitting idle:
At the moment, no stress for me, I have priority boarding so I joined the designated line with a handful of others.
Now you can say about FR what you want but the whole boarding process was very efficient, something I would later in the day see confirmed at another airport. At T minus 25, the gate agent already started checking everyone’s bp and ID, the online bp’s A4 sheets were already halfway cut by another agent before security screening. All these little things added up in speeding up the whole procedure.
FR5462 inbound from MAD:
Parking at stand 62, note the electronic display:
CRL - MAD
After deboarding of the inbound, we were let loose out onto the tarmac:
For Markus :
Rear door boarding:
Window last row part 1:
The in- and outside of the rather ordinary winglet:
The Spanish based crew was in good moods today, welcoming us with a smile and being helpful in assisting passengers storing their belongings. The flight was nearly full with a few empty seats dotted around the cabin and most important of all: 3 for me!
The ‘El commandante’ announced a minor ATC delay due to heavy traffic in the MAD area having us sitting idle for 20 more minutes at the gate but promising us an ontime arrival into MAD.
The sole non-Ryanair plane on the apron this morning:
Titles on the building part 1, I’m at the right airport!
Entering the one and only rwy, direction 7 – note it sloping slightly uphill:
After a full throttle, we blasted away, giving these views over the industrial Charleroi area:
Leaving CRL in the distance:
Nothing but a carpet of clouds for a long long time:
Fancy a swim?
A classic winglet shot – I love this one
I did not have my morning tea yet, so I opted for one from the cart, accompanied by a rather bland pastry:
A familiar sight, but very important information nonetheless:
Inflight mag, not interesting…
How come they advertise for Peruvian holidays in a European based aircraft? Not for me, though, been there, done that.
While browsing through the mag, I came upon this rather bald statement:
The weather cleared up upon flying over the Bay of Biscay, entering the Spanish mainland:
Some 20 mins later, the captain announced our descent into MAD, we kept overflying the seemingly endless barren landscapes of central Spain:
Windmills all around:
Very low cloud base on finals for rwy 15L:
Someone has eaten a piece of the pie:
Titles on the building part 2, I’m at the right airport once again!
The ontime fanfare started playing through the cabin, although we were some 5 minutes behind schedule. Some taxi later sees us docking at a finger gate into one of the C gates at terminal 1. I bid my goodbyes to the crew and was granted a cockpit visit. While stepping out of the cockpit again, the British captain asked if my photo turned out well. Upon showing him the pic he laughed: ‘Straight to a.net that one!’. I replied: ‘You bet it will’. If only he knew… Well this one would not make it anyway due to the low quality…
One last view…
So I was at MAD after so many years having flown from this very terminal a few times into the ‘Americas’. Not much has changed since then. This terminal building consists of 3 connected terminals, appropriately named 1, 2 and 3 which are again divided in sections A through E, with the section A in terminal 1 handling extra-Schengen flights.
A quick glance on this old-fashioned TV learned that my next flight on Air Europa already had a delay of about 20 mins:
It’s definitely NOT terminal 4:
But at least they do have some more modern FIDS’ installed:
It being noon and me being hungry I went hunting for some food. I got me a chicken salad accompanied by some agua con gas. After that it was time to walk to the other side of the terminal in search of gate E75, from where the next flight would depart from.
Avianca coming in, dedicated to gabrielchew and FlyingFinn76:
Terminal 1 is the LCC part, dominated by easyJet and Ryanair:
Some metal from home, heavily delayed as well:
And some metal from far away, I love this scheme:
What do we have here? A new scheme?
My arrival at the gate was accompanied by the arrival from the inbound Air Europa flight from BCN.. on time!
A rather ‘blah…’ color scheme:
From the moment this flight docked in, everyone got up and lined up. Au contraire, I took a seat and watched the scene in amusement. You can see the line effectively blocking the complete width of the terminal. Is this a Spanish thing?
Boarding was called at 13h40 for a 14h05 departure. Even more people queued up. I went to the direction of the desk and right at that moment a second agent started scanning bp’s and waved me in. It’s all being in the right place at the right time
MAD - BCN
A rather disinterested ‘Hola’ was said to me as I walked all that way to the back of the Boeing. At first glance the seats looked nice but once I settled in, they showed their true nature: uncomfortable as hell. Heck, even Ryanair has better seats!
Window last row part 2:
Commercial messages, right in your face:
Definitely NOT good, I tell you…
With the hot cabin filling up slowly, people taking their utmost time to block the aisle, I was starting to get a little edgy…
Contents of the seat pocket:
Now this is the point where all the trouble began. Firstly there was this mother and a child of – I guess – about 3 years old. The child was going totally berserk for one reason or another, the mother kept very calm but could not calm him down. He was literally yelling, screaming, jumping on seats, tearing headcovers off seats, throwing things around. Now I know what it is to have kids (from experience ) but as a parent you should be in control at all times. This mother clearly wasn’t. Now I can’t judge for anyone else and I don’t know what caused the situation but the whole was very annoying, even to a point that the F/A’s tried to calm him down but to avail…
So I sat in my seat, looking out, getting nervous because we hadn’t left yet and it was nearly 20 mins past STD. If this would continue I would surely miss my next flight in BCN.
Then on the mic: ‘El commandante’… ‘We are still waiting for some transfer passengers…’ was all I understood from his appalling English. That sounded NOT promising. Outside I witnessed the bag loading and that didn’t look too promising either. 3 cart were waiting to be loaded and bags had to be sorted, most likely from passengers who were not about to make it for this flight. Now I see why this flight had a delay everyday when I was monitoring it beforehand: transfers!
At least we were in good company next door, but that flight was delayed as well:
Finally the last passengers dripped in and doors were closed. We pushed back at 14h55, 50 mins after STD. The flight time was announced as 50 mins once airborn. My calculator was running: 10 mins taxi + 50 mins flying + 14h55 = 16h05 arrival at BCN. And my Ryanair flight was leaving at 16h50, but from the other terminal with only a landside connection .
Pushing back revealed this piece of machinery – sorry FlyingFinn76:
Safety demo playing on the overhead screens, they were left on for the flight but I was too busy with other things in my head.
Passing by some other beauty:
And of course you can’t have been in MAD without an Iberia bird framed:
Seemingly the person in charge up front overheard my prayers because the plane literally raced to the active, passing T4S…
…and straight into 33R for a rolling thunder takeoff:
Despite it all, I was still able to enjoy the views, see for yourself:
The great weather surely added it’s contribution!
And indeed after some 30 mins, the nose was pitched down and descent into BCN’s 25R was initiated.
We were coming from inland an turning around the city which you find in the distance, the airport of course to the right:
After some right hand turns we found ourselves in finals over the sea, accompanied with nice city views:
Titles on the building part 3, I’m at the right airport once again! Time check 15h59, 51 mins to go until the next departure… Btw that’s my plane at the far left!
BCN is definitely Vueling territory!
And a Qatar plane is always a nice treat, pushing for a departure to most likely Doha:
And now the fun part began. During the flight I had asked a F/A if it was possible to take a seat more upfront to speed up my deboarding, but alas every seat was taken (I did not ask for a C class seat… wouldn’t have worked anyway I guess ). So I was stuck in the back which of course did not facilitate deboarding fast. And just like boarding, deboarding went as fast with people taking their time to get their bags, having some chit chat, blocking the aisle. Normally I have no problem with that whatsoever but not this time: this man’s on a mission folks and it’s an important one!
The following takes place between 16h01 and 16h27…
16h01: sortie from EC-JBJ into the terminal, of course at the almost very last gate
16h02: powerwalking slowly going over in running mode
16h07: followed the signs for the T2-T1 connecting bus but got lost and ended up in the parking lot
16h08: found a stairs going down and the bus as well
16h10: bus leaves
16h19: bus arrives at T2’s curbside
16h22: arrival at security totally prepared, lucky for me there’s no line
16h24: through security but where’s a FIDS when you need one??
16h26: found the FIDS: boarding from C32, right around the corner, easy to see because the line snakes out into the main hallway.
16h28: I cut the line – hey I have priority boarding! – and give the agent my bp and ID card
I made it…
BCN - CRL
Time now to switch to ‘relaxing mode’ again. That works best in the window seat of the last row (basically this is just the same view as this morning ):
And Niki going home – you gotta love that color scheme!
While cooling down I once again contemplate on how efficient the Ryanair boarding process in fact is, it’s a far cry from the Air Europa flight 1 hour ago. But it’s a totally different setup as well so I guess not a good comparison in that aspect?
Once again a speech from a man upfront, clearly with a French accent but his English and Spanish was very fluent and understandable as well. 5 mins ahead of schedule we get our push and make a beeline for the active rwy 25L for takeoff.
Passing by T1 again, my Air Europa flight was already gone by now:
Holding short for some seconds…
And off we go today with me onboard!
Bye BCN, see you again someday hopefully!
Meanwhile I popped in my ear plugs, put my ‘do not disturb’ sign up and enjoyed some last sunshine views over the Pyrenees:
The last moody pic of the day with the moon setting in and the sky turning pink…
The remainder of the flight was in pure darkness, literally and figurically, I woke up by the hard landing and consequent braking on CRL’s rwy 7. After arrival at the terminal and a swift disembarkation I was on my way within the next 15 mins.
If you have made it this far, comments/suggestions/… as always are greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading!