Introduction - Mission ‘fish and chips’
A whole lotta while ago, I was discussing ‘fish and chips’ over a chat session on the internet with fellow a.netter OA260. I promised him that one fine day in June, when the Irish summer would be at it’s very best, I would take a flight out there to savour a nice plate of ‘fish and chips’ and of course to meet up for a walk and talk. That said and almost done, the one thing to do for me was to book some flights of course!
For a dayreturn, the choices were pretty limited so I settled with the earliest possible arrival in DUB that was possible ex-BRU, which was on the direct Aer Lingus A320 service, o/w price = € 78. For the return, I chose to fly another carrier to maximise my time in DUB and get at least a connecting flight home. CityJet came out as a winner here with a DUB-LCY-ANR combo, including the Avro-RJ85 and the F50 for a o/w price = € 115.
And the flights featured in this report on a map (thanks to the excellent Great Circle Mapper, copyright Karl L Schwartz):
Brussels Airport - BRU
Once again I take the train to Brussels Airport, it’s overpriced but oh so convenient. No long walk to the A gates today - Ireland doesn’t do Schengen - and upon arrival at the departure hall, I just go straight: through border control and into the shopping area at the B gates.
The not-so-new-anymore SN Y seats are on display. I must say the design appeals to me and the a.netters that have already tried them on longhaul are quite positive about them.
It’s a long time agon since I’ve been in this part of BRU, therefore a bit of exploration is mandatory. I wasn’t even aware of the fact that there is a kind of ‘panoramic view’ point , so up a floor I go.
The 1st view I encounter is actually not so nice. The building works for The Connector are in full swing apparently.
Ah, the next one is much better, here’s this morning’s lineup on the north side of terminal B. The usual suspects are all there:
And the south side sees some nice activity as well, with United’s EWR flight taxiing in:
Even further south there are some more interesting vessels, amongst others a TG 777, a JAF Jungle Jet and a Privilege Style 752.
After a visit to the small room - where I stand obliged face to face with this commercial for about 45”...
... I head through the security control and find myself airside soon enough. It’s a real beehive this morning:
Brothers in arms, for MSS658, which one do you like best
And these 9W’s are regular visitors until now, but for how long...?
Runway 02 is in use for arrivals this morning and from where I’m now the arriving aircraft are easy to spot from far ahead. Something green is coming in and I think this is mine:
The plane parks at gate B32, about halfway the terminal. It’s good to see a green and colourful livery in the Euro skies and here on the ground in BRU.
And what sees my eye besides the fact that Aer Lingus sent in ship EI-DEE today?
Yeah, rub it in some more will you
With the spotting session over and boarding time nearly there, I position myself strategically in front of the desk at the gate. A large crowd has gathered, mainly elderly people and apparently we’ll have a full house this morning. Boarding time passes and suddenly the gate monitor displays a 10 min delay. Nothing major, we wait and wait and wait some more. Then there’s an announcement:
’Good morning ladies and gentlemen, I have an announcement for all passengers bound for Dublin on flight EI631. Due to a crew member becoming ill on the way to Brussels, there will not be a full set of cabin crew operating the flight. Therefore we cannot accept everybody on this full flight and we need 20 volunteers to be taken off and rearrange their flight with another carrier’.
I enquire about the options immediately but they don’t have full information yet and have to wait for an answer from Aer Lingus headquarters. The most plausible solution would be a rebooking with BA via LHR but that would leave me with virtually no time in Ireland. On the positive side this would give me an extra flight today
10 minutes later there is still virtually no one that has stepped up to volunteer, except for me, in the case that they really need me. Then there’s another message which includes the magic words ‘€ 250 compensation’. I don’t think twice and volunteer to be taken off. For that I have to go to the Swissport desk in the departure hall (say what ) to get myself a new ticket. Hello folks, ever heard of a transfer desk?? With no time to waste, I make my way back, through arrivals and border control again and 10 firm minutes later I’m back to square one. The very unfriendly lady behind the desk gives me a big ‘sigh’ and tells me that they just received word that the flight is now going out full as planned. WTF? And I ran all the way here and now have to get all the way back? What a mockery! Pretty pissed off, I get a new boarding pass and start the trek over to gate B32 again, through border and security control. When I arrive there I’m of course the very last person to board and the gate staff sincerely apologises for this inconvenience.
I’m pretty relieved to be able to get on the flight though!
BRU to DUB
Airbus A320 EI-DEE
Photo © Mark Kwiatkowski
There’s still a line at the end of the finger, so that warrants another shot of the vessel I’m about to board:
Luckily the issuing of a new boarding pass hasn’t changed my seat, it is still window last row, 29F. Upon entering the plane, I pass 2 female FA’s: one of them shows a really pale and sad face, perhaps she’s the ill one? Not much of a ‘hello’ as I pass them and of the other 2 FA’s who are standing in the middle of the cabin. Of course my window seat is taken by someone else, who seems to not have 29F but 29 D. Sorry dude, out you go
The flight is packed, not a single seat to be seen and next to me is an elderly French speaking couple, who, as it seems, are part of a large group (+ 80 pax) travelling to Eire today.
The front office comes on, captain speaking, and explains the situation with the ill-fated cabin crew member. She has been seen by the airport doctor and after some medication, she’s found fit enough to fly and moreover fit enough to perform her duties ICE, but she will not perform service. Well, that’s fine by me as long as this flight is operating!
Pushback is late as expected, 45 mins after SDT. The DL is pushing back as well at the same time but on time.
And the AC to Infinity and Toronto is departing also:
The departing runway is 07R this morning, due to the easterly winds. That makes for a ride with some good sights along the way.
This one is for OA260:
US B752 to Philly(p):
The JJJ (JAF Jungle Jet):
The Privilege Style B752, flying for Thomas the Cook to PMI:
And ET will go home tonight as well:
The departure is pretty swift and quite quickly we are up in the air and above the dense cloud base, next stop DUB.
Some traffic really high above:
The contents of the seat pocket sees the regular stuff, the CARA magazine (where did they get that name from?), a shopping guide, safety card and an onboard menu.
The crew start their BOB round, with 3 iso 4.
The prices seem to be on par with other BOB airlines and I go for my usual choice on morning flights, that is tea & lemon. € 2,5 for a large cup, that’s not too shabby.
After the service, I switch the music on and glue my eyes to the window. It’s a clear day and the views outside are really good.
We pass along STN:
Entering the Irish Sea:
Exiting the Irish Sea:
We come in on a rather northern route, dus to easterly winds, we fly inland and turn 180° to land from the west. For once in every decade, it doesn’t rain in Ireland (just joking )
Some real estate...
And a rather large tennis court...
After a landing on runway 10, we vacate via a high speed exit and head for our designated stand at terminal 2.
It looks like we have left something behind?
Iberia Express anyone?
Disembarkation is pretty swift with the front door coupled to a finger and the back door opened for the apron. Now which one should I choose
The green Aer Lingus livery works very well under a blue sky. Here’s our neighbour:
Dublin Airport (Aerfort Bhaile Átha Cliath) - DUB take 1
So, up the stairs, into the terminal and through the terminal...
...through border control and look who’s there waiting for me at arrivals? OA260!
We exchange greetings and take the direct Aircoach to the city. The weather is stunning, very un-Irish but pleasant and much appreciated after the most dull spring in years in Western Europe. Of course, let’s not forget the purpose of this trip (spot the mistake )...
...we stroll through the city for a few hours, meanwhile talking about lots of things and aviation of course
A Dublin icon (amongst others):
The Temple Bar of course!
After a few very enjoyable hours, we catch the Aircoach again, which brings us in just under 20 minutes back to the airport. We say goodbye and I head over to terminal 1 to catch my CityJet flight home via LCY.
Dublin Airport (Aerfort Bhaile Átha Cliath) - DUB take 2
This place is really old and worn in comparison to terminal 2. CityJet is a major player here it seems:
The security screening is a sad show, it’s painfully slow (I queue for about 30 mins) and there are lots of unprepared and occasional travellers. In the end, I get through without a problem but by timeframe has shrunk considerably. Therefore I go the gate immediately.
The CityJet flights leave from this satellite thingy, the -200 gates. Mind you, that’s not my plane over there, neither is that my fuel truck
This way please, but beware, there’s no way back!
There’s not much to do in the satellite terminal. I buy myself a bottle of water and sit down in the nicely airconditioned waiting room. In total there are 3 CityJets parked, the one I shot before which is apparently going nowhere, 1 bound for London (coming from AMS) and 1 bound for Paris.
This FlyBE Dash-8, bound for SOU wears it’s jacket very proud:
And also this RJ-85 looks really nice up close and personal.
The waiting room is actually a pleasant affair, it’s airy and most of all quiet. The ceiling sees another inventive CityJet promotional banner:
Some 15 mins after my arrival, the flight is called for boarding.
DUB to LCY
Avro RJ-85 EI-RJY
Photo © Pascal Maillot
Tell me, what is better than to board an aircraft via the apron on a nice and warm day?
Tailfin, Avro style!
Having a seat in the back I go for the rear stairs.
2 male FA’s on this service to London and the flight is about 80% full.
The CityJet Avro’s have a 3x3 config except for the last 2 rows on the left which are 2x3.
I’m in the one before last row on the 2-seater.
The overhead panel:
I have a seatmate, unfortunately a businessman who already marked his personal space in any direction
The seats are comfy but not as comfy as the seats on the SN Avro’s, those are actually the only ones I can compare with.
Just like on Aer Lingus, the airline’s logo is engraved in the seat back:
The doors are closed and the - Irish - captain thanks us for all for being early, anticipating a departure well before schedule.
Too bad my window is heavily scratched...
So off we go, 15 mins early. The runway is again n° 10 this late afternoon.
We are tailed by 2 Aer Lingus busses:
Without further a due, the Jumbolino accelerates and takes off, giving me an overview of the airport premises. From an airborne perspective it is evident that there is no real cohesion in the building style of this airport.
Turning left towards the Irish Sea:
Once on cruise, the cart is rolled out and the 2 men perform the service. They are friendly but do lack the warmth and genuineness of the CityJet crew I’m accustomed to on the F50’s. My guess is that they are AF crew and the F50 crew is that of former ‘VLM Airlines’. Also service wise, there is a difference, the choice is a salty or sweet snack and a drink of choice. No sandwich or another more extensive snack.
Also, the inflight magazine is the AF one and on the F50, they have Velocity.
The flight itself is nice and easy, the weather is clear enroute. Here we overfly MAN:
After about 45 mins, the descent towards LCY is initiated, thereby overflying another London airport, LTN:
We basically fly clockwise around London, over the Thames estuary for a landing on runway 09.
There’s lots of industrial activity down there:
And finally we’re over Central London on the final descent. Too bad the sun was on my side, I bet the right hand side of the aircraft had magnificent views
And there we are, touchdown is hard and braking as well. There’s always fun at LCY!
Nevertheless, we miss the exit to the apron and quickly turn 180° on the runway.
I love airports that are surrounded by water!
Finally, we arrive at our parking position.
Brakes set, doors disarmed and opened and we’re all free to go! No border control this time which is a relief. I do have time enough though but every check less is welcomed of course.
London City Airport - LCY
After exiting the arrivals area, I head outside for a breath of fresh air. I still have 1h30min to go before the final leg to ANR.
As it turns out, there’s not much to see outside at this time of the day, so I head back in, get screened for explosives again and find myself next at 1 of the high tables along the window, enjoying the busy evening scene on the apron.
A most lovely Luxair Dash-8:
One of many CityJet F50’s:
Here at LCY, there really is not a single reason why you should be at your gate before boarding time, it is a very small space at apron level with a few chairs and limited action view. In fact, the gate info is only displayed very short ahead of boarding time.
When the gate does flash up, I’m happy to see it’s n°4 and not the ‘omen gate’ n°21.
This rather uninspiring corridor leads to the gates, each are 1 staircase down:
Just as I’m about to go down, the LIN bound AZ Embraer passes by:
The boarding pass is scanned and after 10 more minutes of waiting the door is opened and we’re free to walk to the awaiting F50.
LCY to DUB
Fokker 50 OO-VLP
Photo © Javier del Olmo
While my opinion on the F50’s appearance is not really flattering - in profile I find her just damn ugly - she does have a certain something which can only be appreciated when standing very close by. Judge for yourself
A nice decall on her bottom:
For my friend FLIEGER67, under the left wing:
Propeller, F50 style:
From another photogenic angle:
Her belly and a sexy leg:
Behind me queuing is a mother with 2 young children who are as excited as I am. The mother is taking pics as well and I do my good deed and ask if I should take on of them all, which is happily accepted. I hope my own kids will be as excited as these two - and me - when they ever step onboard of their maiden flight
When I step onboard, I’m greeted in Dutch - Flemish - by a very friendly lady, she’s the type of FA, I really like, just friendly and polite without being intrusive or reserved. Also the male FA, who’s in the rear of the cabin, is very nice and friendly. The difference in ‘feeling welcome’ with the previous flight is striking...
Seat 11A. Again I have a seatmate and unfortunately also someone quite territorial. And those of you that have ever stepped foot onboard a F50, do know how limited the personal space is. And how akwardly low the windows are positioned...
After a few words from the cockpit and some more words and a safety briefing from the cabin crew, we leave our stand 15 minutes early for the second time today, really impressive.
Runway 09 is just a few meters away so in no time we’re up in the air after a powerful takeoff. After all, the runway here is only about 1500m long!
We level off over the Thames estuary again, and turn southeast to direct us to the Belgian coast.
I deliberately had nothing to eat at LCY as I knew that these CityJet flights have a good onboard catering. And today I’m not disappointed either, the crew comes round twice with sandwiches on offer and multiple drinks/snacks, all delivered at my tray table with a genuine smile.
Afterwards the trash is cleared and also this flight is nearing it’s end when the descent towards ANR is initiated.
The sun is chasing us, but she will not catch up this evening.
A blanket anyone?
We fly very near the Port of Antwerp which indicates a straight landing into runway 11.
The gear comes out just as we cross the Schelde river:
The ‘Sinksenfoor’ carnival is in town!
Exactly 1h after wheels up, we make a hard landing at ANR. After an 180° turn on the runway we literally race to our stand on the apron.
The unloading is quick and I thank the crew for their excellent service. If only I had a chocolate box like MSS658 always does, this crew really deserves one It’s good to see the ‘Spirit of VLM’ still alive
5 minutes after stepping out of the aircraft I’m at the bus stop and not long thereafter on my way home.
This was my third overall flight on Aer Lingus. With 3 daily flights and the only carrier operating a diirect flight ex-BRU there’s not much choice if you’re heading for the Irish capital. They are certainly not a bad choice, the semi low cost style is seen with other carriers as well. Considering the price I paid, I cannot complain about todays flight. The only downside was the poor handling of the incident with the ill crew member. Imo, both Aer Lingus and Swissport are responsible in this matter.
With CityJet I had the actual feeling of flying 2 different airlines, with a definite preference for the ex-VLM one. While I find the hardware in the form of the F50 much less comfortable than the RJ85, I really enjoyed the pleasant and very customer minded crew. Regardless of this difference, CityJet is high on my ‘like’ list providing an excellent product all troughout its network that is attractively priced if you book well in advance.
Thank you for reading and I await and will answer your questions, thoughts and comments.