BRS-DUB My wife and I recently used Ryanair for the first time. We’ve flown with the rival easyJet on numerous occasions but my wife was always dubious about Ryanair because of its past poor customer relations reputation. We needed to get to Dublin for an escorted rail and coach tour of the northern part of the Republic and Northern Ireland. In the past we’ve used Air Lingus Regional between Bristol and Dublin but this time we decided to give Ryanair a try. We purchased their Priority Plus package which at just under £137 in total for us both was not much more than half the Air Lingus fare for a broadly similar deal. Priority Plus includes seat selection, a much longer web checkin window, hold baggage up to 20 kilos per person, larger carry-on baggage, priority boarding and (we hadn’t realised this until we reached the airport) fast-track security. Our flight to Dublin was due to depart Bristol at 0805 on a Wednesday morning. We booked the airport-accredited taxi company Arrow Cars for an 0530 pickup. The taxi was ten minutes late picking us up but the company had not bothered to inform us despite having our phone number. We were disappointed with that. The taxicab dropped us at the front of the terminal at 0600 (we live only a few miles from the airport). Given that over 30 flights depart between 0600 and 0800 we feared long queues and uncomfortable overcrowding in the departures area. In fact, there were no serious queues, albeit we missed the main security queues with our fast-track package. The departures area was busy but not overcrowded - by then some of the flights had departed and others were loading. Ryanair is one of the airlines that uses the first extension to the terminal that was opened in 2000 - it’s at the eastern end of the building. Their self-service bag drop was simple to use and we were upstairs in the departures area within 15 minutes of arriving at the airport. We didn’t intend eating until we reached Dublin so I went to the outside viewing area on the first floor at the eastern end of the terminal. It affords a partial view of the apron and I watched a succession of aircraft departing. Our Boeing 737-800 arrived from Dublin a few minutes early (it was Dublin-based) and parked at the central pier where we boarded via gate 31. Bristol doesn’t usually announce flights but the departure gate appears on the FIDs about 35-40 minutes before departure. In fact, our gate came on the screen at 0715, earlier than had been predicted, so we were able to take the walk to the gate area in short order. There are seats in the gate area but most of the priority boarders (including us) preferred to stand in a designated queue. We were in row 30 on the right-hand side of the aircraft. Boarding was accomplished quickly and we noted the entire crew was male. I estimated the load factor at around 90%. The Air Lingus Regional (Stobart) ATR72 which was scheduled to return to Dublin five minutes after us parked alongside and I counted between 50 and 55 passengers boarding it. We pushed back on time and and had only a short taxi to runway 27. The captain made a brief announcement saying he expected a flight time of around 45 minutes with a cruise height of 24,000 feet (we weren’t up there for long), and he briefly described the route which was to take us overhead south and south west Wales before the short hop over the Irish Sea to Dublin. We found the seats reasonably comfortable and my wife who has long legs thought there was a bit more leg room than with easyJet’s A320 series aircraft. We didn’t purchase anything on the flight and I was pleased that there were no fanfares to mark an early landing or any continual harangue to push scratch cards. We were in the clouds soon after take-off and didn’t see the ground again until about five minutes out of DUB. Landing was on Dublin’s runway 28 at 0856 (scheduled arrival time was 0905), a flight time of 46 minutes, and it took us three or four minutes to taxi to a stand serving terminal 1. This part of terminal 1, which comprises a long corridor within a pier (a longer walk than to the far end of the western walkway at BRS but DUB does have travellators for part of the length, unlike BRS), seems to be for the exclusive use of Ryanair. We had to produce our passports at Immigration before being allowed entry into Ireland. The Common Travel Area (CTA) has been in place in various guises for nearly 100 years (apart from during WW2) which in theory means that once in the UK you are in Ireland and vice versa. It never seems to follow a consistent policy though because on return to BRS we were allowed to enter the UK without producing a passport. Anyway, our bags were soon on the carousel. We purchased return tickets on the Airlink bus service to Dublin city at an information counter at the airport. Airlink is operated by double decker buses that now use the 2.9 mile Dublin Port Tunnel (they didn’t when we were last in Dublin) which seems to speed up the journey to the city, if not in the city itself where the traffic is heavy most of the time and the traffic lights painfully slow to change. Return fare was 12 euros each (I believe it’s 11 euros if purchased online) and there are two routes. Service 747 operates about every ten minutes and service 757 every half hour. They take different routes around the city’s central areas. There are other local bus routes and long distance coach routes that serve the airport but the Airlink seems the principal bus/coach route. I’m surprised the frequency is not greater. It’s the same as BRS’s double-decker A1 Flyer service, yet DUB is nearly four times as busy as BRS. When walking around Dublin I noticed that the Airlink buses were frequently full and people were left at bus stops (as we were on our return journey, although fortunately the next bus had room for us). We dropped off our suitcases at our Dublin hotel on the eastern outskirts of the central area by the River Liffey at 1030. In Ireland We joined a 10-day escorted rail and coach tour that took us via Belfast, Giants Causeway, Derry, Donegal, Galway and back to Dublin, involving lots of visits to attractions en route with the Titanic Museum in Belfast, the Giants Causeway, Bushmills Distillery and the legendary Merry Ploughboys Irish Music pub on the outskirts of Dublin my personal favourites. The weather and scenery were both magnificent. Dublin is one of my favourite European cities. DUB-BRS We returned to England last Friday. We caught Airlink 747 outside our hotel in east central Dublin at 1140 and arrived at terminal 1, Dublin Airport, about 30 minutes later. We went to the departures area on the first floor to be confronted by a very long ‘snake’ to the bag drops for the many Ryanair flights. Our flight wasn’t due to depart until 1455. Unlike at BRS where the Ryanair bag drops only open two hours before a flight those at DUB seem to have no restriction. The snake moved very quickly and within 15 minutes we had labelled and self dropped our hold bags. The fast track security was instant with no queue after which we made our way along the lengthy ‘Ryanair’ pier: unlike the western walkway at BRS which was built under the general permitted development rules and has only spartan facilities the pier at Dublin is really part of the terminal with retail outlets and all the facilities one would expect. We parked ourselves on seats giving a good view of a large part of the apron and runways and watched the ‘action’ outside. Because the day was so hot and we had eaten a large breakfast we bought only tea from one of the retail outlets. Our flight was called at 1415 and we went straight to the gate area. It seemed the queue in the priority lane was as long as that in the ‘ordinary’ lane. There were more families and other apparent leisure travellers on this flight than on the Wednesday morning outbound flight which appeared more business traveller orientated. The priority queue was called at 1430 but we had to wait for a few minutes on a stairway leading down to the apron and again at the foot of the aircraft steps for three of four minutes. No real problem on a very warm day but not such a good idea on a wet and cold one. Ryanair doesn't seem to use air bridges at DUB. Do they anywhere? We were on board the Dublin-based Boeing 737-800 over 15 minutes before the 1455 departure time and I estimated the load factor at over 90%. We pushed back at 1458 but then took nearly 25 minutes to taxi out to the end of runway 10 because of the long take-off queue ahead of us. (the captain who made a brief announcement prior to push back warned us of the long taxi). The take-off roll began at 1523 and shortly after take-off we turned right giving us a wonderful view of Dublin Port and the city beyond from our seats towards the rear on the right-hand side - mine was a window seat. A large fire seemed to be burning on the top of the Dublin Hills outside the city. I purchased a lemon tea drink from the trolley to slake my thirst in the clement weather. After a brief crossing of the Irish Sea we entered the UK on the west coast of Wales north of Fishguard. The unmistakable entrance to Milford Haven was soon in view in the distance as were Pendine Sands shortly afterwards. The flight continued in cloudless skies with views of Swansea and then Cardiff filling the window. We turned right over Newport. The captain had previously told us we could expect the easterly runway at Bristol (09) but instead of Weston-super-Mare appearing before us - the usual point of entry for 09 - I saw Royal Portbury Dock several thousand feet below. From this it became quickly apparent that we would not be experiencing a ‘straight in’ approach to 09. Within a few minutes BRS came into view down to our right as we flew past it in the direction of Bath. Very soon after we turned right and Chew Valley lake was passed. We made another right turn to overfly the Mendips in a westerly direction over the highest point (Blackdown). I looked across the wide Wrington Vale where BRS was still clearly in view on its 600 foot plateau about four miles away and I could see two easyJet aircraft on approach to 09 flying in the opposite direction to us. We continued flying west towards the Bristol Channel which we reached overhead Brean Sands. A gradual 180 degrees to the right brought us over Weston-super-Mare where we began our approach. The landing at 1614 (scheduled arrival time was 1600) was on the firm side and elicited a few squeals from some of the passengers. Because of the 'tour' of North Somerset the expected 45-minute flight time was extended to 51 minutes but from my perspective a thoroughly enjoyable bonus given the wonderful views. The short taxi to outside the central pier was quickly achieved. We entered the terminal through the Republic of Ireland/Channel Islands/Isle of Man door. As I said earlier, there were no passport formalities unlike at Dublin on the outbound flight. Our bags appeared on the carousel 20 minutes after we came to a standstill on the apron which I considered a good effort given it was quite busy with arriving aircraft at the time. We had to wait about 20 minutes for the booked Arrow taxi to put in an appearance but again we had no complaints as the driver told us the traffic in south Bristol and around the airport had been horrendously heavy that hot Friday afternoon (which we could see for ourselves on the way home), and there were lots of other people awaiting Arrow taxis. We reached our house at 1730. Conclusion On this evidence any disquiet we had about using Ryanair was unjustified. They provided a very acceptable service for the price and we would certainly be prepared to use them again.