Ryanair is well known for its bare minimum service model, often ridiculous ideas coming from its founder, but also for their sometimes ridiculous flight deals. Compared to other low cost airlines, Ryanair has had some logic-defying fares, and we were there in 2007 to take advantage of them. What am I talking about? Free flights. Well.. Almost. I found this old article draft on my hard drive that happens to be about 10 years overdue, so here it is.
To preserve the “unexperienced newbie fun factor”, I kept it original as written by my 18 year old self (only spellchecked), my 2017 notes will be in cursive.
This whole thing started one day in early 2007 on ICQ when I got this message from my friend Keishi (KNaviation) going something like: ”Did you see the Ryanair deal??” Obviously I hadn’t, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. One ways all around Europe for 1 cent.
We both started searching for interresting destinations to fly to. I spent maybe two hours trying to find 0.01 euro combinations but since we were departing from Bratislava, there was only one return flight a week, to Frankfurt Hahn. Flights to London had 15 euros of additional taxes, and we wanted to fly really for “free”.
I didn’t have a credid card back then, so this is the message I soon recieved from Keishi:
… Followed by:
I have to say, I have really generous friends.
Looking I back I wonder why we didn’t try to fly on out of Hahn, which was already an important ryanair base back then. I guess I wasn’t as agile in the “booking agent” game yet…
I ended up booking 3 return tickets to Hahn; one after my A-Levels, and two in august. Keishi booked… 6! That’s right, he booked 6 return flights, and even flew 5 of those!
The Xtra budget trip begins…
I woke up at home in Prague at 5 am on July 3, 2007 and took the bus to Nitra at 7:30, arrived at 14:00, where Keishi took me home where we did some last minute planning, and I probably also took a little pool beating. We took the bus to Bratislava to get to the airport before 20:00, as the flight was leaving at 21:50. During boarding, I made a joke about priority boarding holders (but this time the guy heard me).
Back then, Ryanair had free seating, so on some flight with bus boarding, that paid privilege was hence rendered almost useless. Even when boarding through a gate, Priority boarding didn’t give you much of an edge, except from having to do less elbowing once onboard.
We entered the shiny -800 series and easily got the seat we wanted.
Me, I like Ryanair (can’t say I would stand behind that statement today). They have a cool image, reasonable price (ok, it’s a “no cost”, sry low cost) and good looking and relatively clean aircraft. But maybe I’m not too picky.
From “Middle of Nowhere” Hahn to “Spotter’s playground” FRA
One hour and thirty minutes later, we were buying one day tickets to FRA Main at HHN/Hahn, (Northrein Westfalia), Germany, Europe, Earth, Space (this is another of keishi’s jokes). (Oh boy…) Another hour and a half later, time for a smoke, borrowed from some British travellers in front of T1.. and hear Keishi’s comment: ‘Smoking kills’
We used the 5 hours of waiting wisely: McDonald, 10 times skyline, buying 10e worth of aviation magazines and sleeping.
Ready for sunrise
Finally going spotting! I got the stupid idea to go there at 5:30 am since I wanted to see the SA 346, but didn’t realize there was nearly no light. It took about half an hour to reach the runway 25L/R spot. But at least, we saw the majority of the morning heavy traffic, including a United 777 and 744, ABC 742F, LH 333, 744, 343, 346, Thai and Singapore Airlines 744, Ethiopian 757, Condor 763. I wanted to see some MD-11s but of course they landed on the other runway.
At 7:30 came one of my highlights, an Air Canada 773 which was qualified by: ‘pfff” by Keishi. Fair enough. That aircraft was no more than 4 months old though! Hmmm ok.. but I enjoyed it!
Calm before the storm
Later in the morning, the sun decided to come out a little and together with the general humidity, kept producing some beautiful scenes.
Other heavies came in, luckily mostly on the good runway: Quantas 744, AA 767 and 777 (in polished metal livery *sigh*), NWA 333, more Lufthansa, many various narrowbodies.
Then the real highlight: rain… aaand… hailstone!
That was the missing part! I bet you’d love to to see what we looked like after 15 minute run under that juicy storm.
And ask KN about UA 744! I thought he was going to kill me. My pigheaded mind didn’t allow me to run to T1 to hide from the storm, I needed to have a photo of that plane which obviously turned out dark and unuseable.
The thing was: it was 9:46 am. What a feeeeeelin’ to be totally soggy without any spare dry clothes, and having 10 hours to go before the flight back.
We spent about 3 hours near the McDonalds windows with a view on the runways, where I’ve made apprx. 60 unuseable photos, again. But we were alive and well, so we took the next bus to Hahn and spent the rest of the day freezing in the terminal and on the parking garage partly overlooking the apron and runway trying to capture some of the Cargo planes.
We were lucky this time : both the Egyptair A300 and Aeroflot DC-10 took off splashing through the runway making for an invaluable addition to the collection!
After that, it was check in, calm flight… it seemed like we were going to get home before midnight. Not true.. at least not in Slovakia! We finally came to KN’s home at 2 am (Ryanair came to bratislava at 9:XX pm, before schedule). Yet I liked that trip.
Til next time!