Ryanair is apparently the world’s worst airline as claimed by travellers all over the internet. Being a fan of all things budget, Ryanair is definitely on top of my list for airlines that I would like to try flying at least once in my life. On this trip to the UK, I found a really cheap fare for Ryanair FR671 from Birmingham to Dublin which costs less than the train ticket from Oxford to Birmingham International, so I booked it as a side trip on this long-haul holiday.
According to Ryanair’s website, non-EU/EEA citizens must have passports checked and boarding pass stamped at the Ryanair Visa/Document Check Desk counter before going through airport security. As I got down to the check-in desk to enquire about this, the staff there said that this was not necessary as my boarding pass did not show that I needed to do it.
My print-at-home boarding pass for my Ryanair FR671 flight from Birmingham to Dublin. A boarding pass reprint at the airport would cost £25 (~S$43.72) if you have already completed the online check-in, while an airport check-in would cost £55 (~S$96.17). I’m not sure if the price of airport check-in includes the boarding pass.
With that confusion settled, I headed to security.
For all flights exiting the UK, there are no immigration checks. As such, it was just a pass through security (which looks like Changi Airport Terminal 4) and I’m in the transit area.
Heading out of security to the transit area.
A forced walk through the duty free shop before the gates.
There are two sections of gates at Birmingham Airport, with quite a few food options. The airport looks better than I thought.
Gates are only advised about 45 minutes before departure.
My Ryanair flight was, of course, at the further section of gates at Gates 1-20.
There is a separate information board for flights departing from Gates 1 to 20 only.
My Ryanair FR671 flight was featured on this board. As such, I headed to the further section of the terminal early.
The view of the apron from the walkway to Gates 1 to 20.
The walkway from the main part of the transit area to Gates 1 to 20.
The smaller and quieter area of Birmingham Airport at Gates 1 to 20.
The walking times to each gate around Birmingham Airport.
About 40 minutes to departure, the screens finally showed that my flight was departing from Gate 1.
The boarding queue forming at Gate 1.
The famous Ryanair queue signs.
Ryanair Priority passengers can bring 1 small cabin bag (40cm x 20cm x 25cm) which must fit under the seat in front of you, and an additional 10kg bag (55cm x 40cm x 20cm) to be stored in the overhead locker. Ryanair Priority Boarding is limited to 95 passengers per flight.
Ryanair Non-Priority passengers can bring 1 small cabin bag only (40cm x 20cm x 25cm) which must fit under the seat in front of you.
As I am not a priority passenger, I didn’t bother queuing up.
I joined in the Non-Priority queue only when it started moving.
Heading to get my boarding pass checked.
The famous Ryanair baggage sizer. Mine would have fit perfectly, but the staff didn’t check my small bag it was quite obvious that it would have fit. If you are caught flouting the rules, you have to pay £25 (~S$43.59) to check-in your 10kg bag at the boarding gate.
A literature rack with free magazines and newspapers was placed after the counter towards the aerobridge. Hmm, this looks like Singapore Airlines’ pre-boarding service.
EI-FEG would be taking me to Dublin.
The backlog of passengers with Priority in front of the line and Non-Priority formed at the back.
Ryanair does not use aerobridges. Passengers board via the apron.
Heading down the aerobridge to the stairs to the apron.
The view of EI-FEG from the aerobridge stairs.
Heading down the aerobridge stairs.
Boarding my Ryanair flight via the tarmac.
Ryanair has opted to install airstairs at the front door of their Boeing 737-800s to save time on bringing in a set of mobile stairs upon arrival.
As my seat was towards the front of the aircraft, I boarded by the front airstairs.
Heading up the airstairs.
The side view of Ryanair’s Boeing 737-800.
My first view of a Ryanair seat.
The legroom seems pretty generous actually.
The interior of Ryanair’s Boeing 737-800.
The surprisingly spacious legroom on board Ryanair with the missing literature pocket, with my bag placed under the seat in front of me.
Ryanair also provides aircon vents and reading lights, so it isn’t that budget after all. You don’t have to pay for them.
Instead of safety cards which are usually placed in seat pockets, a safety sticker is pasted on the seat back, since there isn’t any seat pocket to begin with.
The view of the aircraft from my seat.
The plane took off at 3.36pm – 36 minutes late.
The rather clean toilet on board.
Real paper towels are also surprisingly available on board, one of my marks of a good airline.
In-flight sales of food and beverages are made despite the short flight time.
An interesting difference on board Ryanair – lifejackets are found ABOVE the seats, in front of the aircon vents and reading lights.
I actually found this Ryanair flight very pleasant. While I’m already quite happy with AirAsia’s legroom for short-haul flights, Ryanair’s legroom provides about twice more wiggle space than that of AirAsia. On top of that, as Ryanair’s seats don’t recline, I’m assured of my legroom always. The seat was sufficiently comfortable for this short less-than-1-hour hop.
The flight touched down in Dublin at 4.19pm – 9 minutes late. I’m not sure if it is because of this slight delay that Ryanair didn’t play that signature on-time jingle which I would have loved to hear to complete my Ryanair experience.
Here’s the jingle which would have been played upon touch down when Ryanair arrives early or on-time.
Disembarking from the aircraft with the view of the yellow seat backs.
The bulkhead in front of Seats 2D, E and F with Ryanair’s branding.
Disembarking via the front airstairs.
Arrived at Ryanair’s home base. And hello Ireland!
Looking back at EI-FEG.
A rare direct front view of the aircraft for a passenger.
Heading into the terminal building.
Thank you Ryanair.
Even the walk to arrivals isn’t spared with Ryanair trying to get you to buy more stuff on their website.
Heading up to continue the long walk to immigration.
The walk leads to this link bridge splitting arriving and departing passengers side by side.
Entering the EU from the UK, passport controls are conducted.
This is great. Every airport and checkpoint should have such an information screen.
Heading down to immigration.
Immigration was rather strict here, though a Singaporean entering Ireland with just a small bag for slightly more than 24 hours does sound naturally suspicious anyway. A few questions about my holiday, job and proof of my outward ticket back to the UK and onwards to KL and Singapore, and I was good to go.
Heading past baggage reclaim since I didn’t check anything in on Ryanair.
Once out past through customs, I’m officially in Ireland.
Overall, Ryanair was actually pretty great. Everything from the check-in process online to the boarding process, flight and disembarkation went on without a hitch with the many signs and announcements made. With high “financial penalties” aka optional fees, almost every passenger would follow their rules diligently which speeds up the entire flight process a lot. With their competitive fares, I do foresee flying with Ryanair again, but probably just for flights less than 2 hours.