Airline: Ryanair Flight #: FR668 Route: DUB – BHX Class: Economy Seat: 2F Date: Thursday 29th August 2019
After an tiring but thoroughly enjoyable day in Dublin I jumped on an airport express bus outside Heuston station and started to make my way back to the airport. Heuston is the far end of the 747 route and for most of the day buses depart here for the airport every 10 minutes. Between the 747 and 757 routes most of the City Centre is directly accessible by bus from the airport, allowing minimum time on a day trip to be wasted on travel.
On this trip I had decided to trial using mobile boarding passes and so after arriving at the airport I headed straight for security with my phone and passed through the boarding pass check without issue. Security itself seemed to be relatively well organised, although I did get caught behind a backlog caused by a number of people having lots of bags to send through. All in all the experience was about average with there being no major issues although it was definitely not as smooth as some experiences.
Having checked the DragonPass app prior to travelling, I hadn’t expected to be able to visit a lounge on this journey as the DAA Lounge in Terminal 1 supposedly closed at 1900, almost three hours before my flight. However, the entrance to the lounge is right next to the exit from security and I was pleased to find it was open until 2115, about the time I’d have to head to the gate anyway. The lounge was very busy prior to the evening rush, however I was still able to get a seat with a decent desk space to allow me to work on blogs whilst I relaxed. As generic (non-airline) lounges go, this is one of the best I’ve experience with a decent selection of cold food, a hot soup and a range of both hot and cold drinks.
Having enjoyed my lounge experience I started to head towards the gate about 45 minutes before my flight was due to depart. Knowing this was a late flight and I’d be tired after a day exploring Dublin, I had decided to book an extra leg-room seat for this flight, however was surprised to find that this didn’t automatically include priority boarding. Investigating further on the Ryanair app, it seems the only way to get priority boarding is to buy it separately. Since Ryanair changed their hand luggage policy at the end of 2018, buying priority boarding has also included getting an additional larger cabin bag on-board (or vice-versa). Given that the extra legroom seat had already cost me more than the actual flight, I decided against paying anything more for something that realistically would mean I would be 10-20 places ahead in the boarding queue.
In the end there were very few people with priority boarding as so I was about the sixth person to board the aircraft via the front steps. Taking my place in seat 2F, I found that this was one of Ryanair’s older interiors and so was glad to have purchased extra legroom as I’ve found in the past that the standard legroom isn’t enough for my knees in this cabin. Unfortunately, as I settled in I found that due to the fixed armrests containing the tray tables, the extra legroom seats are narrower than a standard seat and so the short flight back to Birmingham was rather uncomfortable.
There was a slight delay to our departure (due to a late arrival of the aircraft), however this wasn’t major and we were soon airborne and turning left over Dublin to head east. Unlike on my flight out where the service was too fast for me to order anything, on the flight back the crew didn’t even bother attempting a service, seemingly due to the late hour of the flight. Personally this was all the more reason for me to want a coffee given I still had over two hours until I was home and so I was disappointed by the lack of service and the fact we essentially didn’t see the crew all flight.
With nothing to see out of the window (and of course no in-flight entertainment), I settled down with a magazine and before too long we were beginning our decent into Birmingham. With Birmingham’s runway 33 in use, our approach was from the south-east and my seat on the right hand side of the aircraft gave me a great view of Coventry illuminated in the darkness. Despite our delayed departure from Dublin, we arrived into Birmingham on time and had a short taxi back to the gate I had left from earlier that day. The arrivals process at Birmingham was super-fast and I was back at the train station less than 15 minutes after landing.
In conclusion, as with the flight out, the flight back to Birmingham with Ryanair was pretty much as expected apart from the lack of service. Personally I’ve decided not to bother with extra legroom in future as I find the lack of seat width more uncomfortable then the lack of legroom. Also, given the increasing number of aircraft with Ryanair’s new interior, legroom is likely to become less of an issue. Dublin was an okay airport to depart from, with only a slight delay through security, whilst Birmingham was an absolute breeze to arrive back into and infinitely better than Stansted in this regard.
Lounge 0* Seat/Facilities 2* Food 3* Service 2* Punctuality 5* Overall Rating 12/25 (read about my rating system here!)