Date: January 7, 2018
Flight No.: U22765
Route: Barcelona El Prat to Milan Bergamo
Type: Boeing 737-800
After testing out easyJet on my way to Barcelona and then doing a quick roundtrip on the AVE high-speed train to Zaragoza, it was time to fly back to Milan from where I flew to Tokyo (via London).
I considered several options for the flight – ranging from easyJet to Iberia – but, given my tight schedule, Ryanair was the only viable one. While I hoped I would be able to try Iberia or some other airline I haven’t flown before, at the same time, I was looking forward to flying on THE low-cost airline again.
After all, I have a lot of great plane spotting memories from Frankfurt thanks to them. And, the last time I flew with Ryanair was back in 2010 – so I was looking forward to seeing how much had changed since then (hint: not much).
Booking the Ticket on Ryanair’s Website
I booked the ticket from Barcelona El Prat, the main airport in the Catalan capital, to Milan Bergamo, the Milan airport that is not really in Milan, on Ryanair’s website a bit less than a month before departure.
As I was traveling with a fair bit of luggage, rather than going for the “Standard fare,” I booked the “Plus” fare which comes with 20 kg of luggage, the ability to select seat and check-in online up to 60 days in advance, and priority boarding for a premium of a bit more than 25 EUR which I found to be reasonable.
While overall, the booking process was fairly smooth, the one thing that surprised me was that to finish the reservation, I had to create a Ryanair account. At least, I didn’t see an option to skip this part of the process.
Dropping Off My Luggage and Boarding Ryanair Flight 6365
Fast forward to the day of departure, I got to the airport a bit after 6PM – about 90 minutes before the scheduled departure time.
With one group checking in their luggage ahead of me, it took about five minutes to drop my bag off and get on my way to the security check which was located one floor above the check-in level.
Since I still had about an hour left until departure, I decided to pay a quick visit to Sala VIP Canudas – the sole Priority Pass lounge in Barcelona airport’s terminal 2. One thing I have to note here is that it felt strange entering an airport lounge with a Ryanair boarding pass.
I left the lounge at 6:50PM and headed to gate S24. To my surprise, as I was walking to the gate, I noticed the Ryanair 737 in Boeing’s house livery parked nearby, and given that it was the only Ryanair plane I could see, I figured out that it was the plane that would operate my flight.
When I arrived at the gate, a long line was already formed and boarding was in process. Seeing an empty priority lane to the left of the line, I headed there, and after the ground staff confirmed that I had purchased priority boarding, I was allowed to skip the line and head down the jetway.
Departing Barcelona El Prat Airport Onboard a Ryanair 737
After being welcomed by the crew which was handing out shopping catalogs disguised into in-flight magazines (and the welcome sign), I headed down the aisle and settled in my seat.
The aisle seat, 8C, offered a great view of… A safety card. I mean, safety sticker which also doubled as an ad for sandwiches. In fact, onboard Ryanair, you are never more than several centimeters or minutes away from being sold to.
That said, the legroom was sufficient for the sub-2-hour flight, the seats had individual air vents, and the cabin was in good condition, so there was not much to complain about.
Boarding was completed at 7:15PM – 25 minutes before departure – which I found quite impressive. And, several minutes later, the captain announced that the flight to Milan, where it was 10 degrees Celsius, would take 1 hour and 25 minutes.
Some minutes after that, the purser made an announcement – and mentioned a flight time of approximately 1 hour and 24 minutes – beating the captain in degree of accuracy!
We were pushed back at 7:39PM, one minute ahead of schedule, at which time the cabin crew performed manual safety demonstration. Then, at 7:55PM, we took off.
ABC of Sales: Always Be Closing…
…that’s how the first half of the flight could be described in just a few words.
The seatbelt signs were switched off at 8PM. And, right after that an announcement was made that in-flight sales would commence shortly. Things promoted in the announcement included, among others, panini, chicken tikka masala, lasagna, pasta, and drinks.
And, as promised, seconds after the announcement was over, the first “sales pass” was done with the cabin crew offering food for sale.
Then, about five minutes later, another pass was done with drinks.
Another ten minutes later, it was time for the highlight of any Ryanair flight – the scratch cards.
Then, after a brief pause due to turbulence, the sales machine came back to life. This time, with duty free items offered at “a huge discount compared to high street prices.” The only thing I will say here is that – just like entering a lounge with a Ryanair boarding pass – it is weird hearing names such as Giorgio Armani onboard the airline.
One thing I have to note here is that I was actually quite surprised at the amount of people making onboard purchases. While I didn’t see anyone buying any of the duty free items, the drinks and snacks did well, and so did scratch cards.
Arriving at Milan Bergamo Airport
At 8:55PM, the cabin crew announced that we would be landing in about 20 minutes and that passengers should use toilets in the next five minutes if they need to as then they will start charging 5 EUR per entry.
I mean, then they will close them for landing.
And, indeed, exactly five minutes later, the seatbelt sign was switched on as we continued descending towards Bergamo airport.
Then, at 9:12PM, the cabin crew was asked to take seats for landing. Given that we touched (slammed) down quite heavily less than a minute later, I thought they could have gotten the heads up a bit more in advance.
But, anyways, we landed at 9:13PM as opposed to the scheduled arrival time of 9:25PM, which meant… Fanfare to celebrate the early arrival!
A cheerful fanfare and three minutes of taxiing later, we arrived at our parking spot. Soon after, I disembarked using the 737’s built-in stairs (unique to Ryanair aircraft and Boeing Business Jets) and took a couple of photos of the beautiful livery before walking into the terminal.
There, I picked up my luggage and found a place to wait through the night before taking a very early morning bus to Milan city center from where I took a taxi to Linate – the departure airport of my next flight.
Ryanair 737-800 Barcelona – Milan Summary
While the Ryanair in-flight experience is not as calm as on some other low-cost airlines such as easyJet because of the aggressive sales, the airline does its job of getting passengers between two points (mostly within Europe).
That said, the only time I would unconditionally choose Ryanair would be in cases like this time when it was the only flight suiting my schedule. The other time I would consider Ryanair would be if their flight was significantly cheaper than other available options.
Now, of course there is the third case when I would pick the airline – when feeling lucky and having some change to spend on scratch cards!