Hello and welcome to another Flight Report series! This series is a bit different, as I'm finally getting away from my typical North American reports. For this one, I'm off across the pond!
Washington, DC - London, UK (IAD - LHR) | United | 787-8 [Report Here] London, UK - Amsterdam, NL (LGW - AMS) | British Airways | A319 [Report Here] Cologne, DE - Berlin, DE (CGN - SXF) | Ryanair | 737-800 [THIS REPORT] Berlin, DE - Munich, DE (TXL - MUC) | Lufthansa | A320 [Coming Soon] Vienna, AT - Washington, DC (VIE - IAD) | Austrian | 767-300 [Coming Soon]
Cologne Bonn Airport
After a wonderful stay in Cologne, it was off to Berlin. I made my way to the airport via S-Bahn, arriving just over two hours before departure.
At CGN, Ryanair operates from Terminal 2, the newer terminal at the airport. After making my way up multiple escalator levels from the rail station, I found myself in the basic but pleasant ticketing area.
After dropping my checked bag with an agent (who carefully weighed it to ensure it was within the limit), I made my way to the security checkpoint where I then waited 15 minutes behind two people who clearly weren't very practiced going through security checkpoints.
Luckily for me, Terminal 2 is the location of the airport's only Priority Pass lounge option.
Airport Business Lounge
Similar to the rest of Terminal 2, the lounge was basic but appealing and functional. On this Tuesday morning the lounge was completely empty.
There was a basic but adequate breakfast spread of pastries and all sorts of beverages. I grabbed a solid breakfast and a few decent cappuccinos.
Most of the seating in the lounge was large, comfortable chairs arranged in groups of two or four with frosted dividers between …
… or more standard tables with chairs.
Overall, I was quite pleased with the lounge. My only complaint was that the lounge-specific Wi-Fi wasn't working. However, this wasn't that big of an issue as Terminal 2 has free Wi-Fi available throughout.
The flight to Berlin would be boarding from gate D80. Apparently, the ticket I booked (to include my checked bag) also included priority boarding – I joined the priority line about 5 minutes before boarding was due to begin. However, I was intrigued at how our 737 had yet to arrive at this point.
Boarding was called right on time, which also happened to be exactly when the inbound aircraft pulled onto the stand. After having my boarding pass scanned, it was down the corridor then partway down the stairs to the apron – partway because agents had stopped the line to let inbound passengers disembark. I suppose having us primed and ready to board keeps the turns consistently quick?
Either way, my position on the stairs led to some great views of EI-DWF.
If I'm remembering correctly, the neighboring EasyJet Airbus was also heading to Berlin, although TXL instead of SXF.
After waiting on the stairs for nearly 10 minutes, the aircraft was ready to board. Being seated in row 16, I entered the front door via the 737's built-in airstairs.
My view from exit-row seat 16F.
Since I'm rather tall, I went ahead and splurged about €5 on an exit row window seat. The legroom was pretty impressive for that amount of buy up. One thing I did notice however is that unlike the United States where exit row passengers can store small bags and backpacks beneath the seat in front of them (I think…), nothing could be stored on the floor in the exit row (see note on the seat back). So, up top my backpack went, resulting in even more space for me.
None of the seats have seat-back pockets or storage, so the "safety card" is directly applied to the seat back in all rows.
We pushed back from the gate right at scheduled departure time. Overall, I was a bit surprised at how empty the cabin was for a Ryanair flight – I'd estimate only two-thirds of the seats were filled.
A good look at the exterior of Terminal 2 at CGN.
Passing Terminal 1.
We departed following a Lufthansa A321 on runway 14L after a very short taxi.
Shortly after departure, we climbed through the thin cloud layer.
Service on Ryanair is essentially all buy-in-board. Because I was still full from the lounge and because of the short 50 minute duration of this hop across Germany, I didn't even bother investigating the service options.
Entertainment is entirely up to the passenger as well – no in-flight magazines on Ryanair. I used the flight to watch a bit of downloaded Netflix content on my phone, and to take in the window views.
After a short cruise, we started descent towards Berlin.
Landing on runway 25R.
A couple interesting things to note: the massive debacle that is the new BER terminal, and an ex-UP El-Al 737 rotating for TLV.
We pulled onto stand 30 a few minutes before scheduled arrival time.
While deplaning, I got a glimpse of the standard row leg room … yep, glad I spent the €5 for the exit row.
After making my way to the tarmac via the integrated airstairs, it was onto one of two buses to head to the Terminal D arrivals area. The short bus ride offered some good views of the main ramp area.
The Terminal D arrivals area was very basic but clean. After waiting about 20 minutes, my bag finally appeared on the carousel, and it was off into Berlin.
Independent VIP Lounge Terminal 2
Cologne - CGN
Berlin - SXF
All in all, Ryanair provided a great value on this flight. My entire journey, which included a checked bag, carry-on, priority boarding and an exit row seat set me back just $50 USD. For that price the experience was pretty incredible. Unfortunately though, I feel as though I need to rate things like entertainment (as none was available) and meal/catering (buy-on-board only) pretty low. When all is said and done, I absolutely would choose Ryanair again in the future for travel within Europe -- they got me safely from A to B on time and for a very low price.
Cologne Airport was also quite pleasant. The lounge was a nice start to the day, and the rest of the bright and airy Terminal 2 made a good impression. Berlin SXF was, well, functional. The areas of the airport with which I interacted directly were very basic and more typical "low-cost" facilities.
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