I hadn't flown Aer Lingus in a long time, it was time to make a return. There wasn't a huge price difference in choosing BA or EI on the BHD-LHR flight with my SOU-BHD outbound flight. Given I had four more BA flights due, it felt right to fly with Aer Lingus. My last flight was from London Gatwick to Dublin in August 2017 on EI-DEK.
Getting to Belfast City was only a 20 minute walk from the B&B I stayed. Overall the airport was bigger than Southampton, but was definitely a regional city airport. Flybe was operating all but 6 flights that day on the board (Aer Lingus and British Airways operating the LHR services). The only international route served by BHD is a regular Amsterdam service from KLM Cityhopper, which wasn't listed that day.
Given that I'm writing this now after recent events in March, I can only assume there is a lot of unrest and anxiety at this airport now…
I passed through security pretty quickly, must have taken 10 minutes from when I entered the air side zone. I skipped past "Duty Free" not buying anything and made my way to the departure lounge, sitting by a big window overlooking my A320, which was EI-FNJ, and observing the handful of arrivals ahead of my departure.
Two Flybe Dash 8 Q-400 arrived during my wait for the Aer Lingus flight to LHR. One plane came from Manchester and the other from Edinburgh. I'm not sure which route G-PRPK was operating specifically.
The London Heathrow shuttle from British Airways arrived operated by an Airbus A319, G-EUPA. Interesting fact for those not familiar with UK Aviation- British Airways didn't operate to Belfast for a good three decades from the mid 1980's to 2012 due to "The Troubles", their return to Belfast (using BHD) was due to the 2012 merger with BMI- British Midland International, who continued to operate the route to Belfast International "Aldergrove" before moving operations to Belfast City in 2001.
It was time to board, I was the third in the que for the non-Priority passengers. I had made my way down to the departure gate from the lounge about 10 minutes before the plane was due to begin boarding. Apart from two vending machines, there isn't much point going down too early to the Gates, unless you are desperate to board first.
All flights at Belfast City board using a remote stand, which allows great photo opportunities, I made the most as the flash "Green Top" livery of Aer Lingus is being phased out for a somewhat "trashy" IAG approved Eurowhite design, introduced in 2018.
EI-FNJ, known as St Dympna, is a 2006 built Airbus A320- which came to Aer Lingus in July 2016 when the airline took on some ex-Clickair/Vueling Airbus A320 in order to phase out their Airbus A319 fleet. This aircraft had been based in Belfast City operating this three times daily service since mid-December 2019, and was rotated off the Belfast base on February 23rd 2020- days after I flew it.
The seats were of a more modern and slimline design compare to the seats on EI-DEK in 2017. I am personally not sure if this is the new standard A320 seating for Aer Lingus, or if its simply from its days operating for Clickair or Vueling. Personally- my only minor criticism, I think EI should refrain from using the blue seat cover for a dark green colour- given the Irish national airline should promote the countries main colour, a similar colour is used on their A330's fabric seats.
Whilst I don't personally like the new incoming livery design, I do appreciate the thought of the engines being a dark green…
We departed Belfast on time and began our 55 minute flight to London Heathrow. The weather was good compare to the weekend that had past days earlier- courtesy of the "delightful" Storm Dennis.
As I had an Airbus A320 model in the out-going livery and the "Green Spirit" Rugby livery- I felt obliged to buy the IAG era livery model on sale for 10EUR (£8.40p). Always a pleasure to buy model aircraft, though I am going to have a time finding a snap fit 1/200 scale retro Aer Lingus A320 model- they are probably going to be hard to find.
Yes the flight was short, but I didn't have breakfast in the B&B, due to my early departure, and airport restaurants can be busy or expensive. So for the love of reviewing service and providing content- I splashed a 10EUR (£8.40) for the cooked Irish Breakfast, which also included a hot drink from the bistro, I chose a coffee as I was due a VERY LONG DAY!
Whilst it didn't look too appealing, the breakfast was overall quite good. It contained some hash brown, a slice of bacon, two sausages, a half tomato, black pudding and white pudding. Sided off with a serving of Orange Juice and Irish bread with marmalade and spread. Wasn't too bad for quality and value, although a bit tight to eat it and enjoy it on an Irish/UK flight- would recommend for a breakfast on longer European flights from Belfast, Cork, Shannon or Dublin.
We were running on time and possibly due to be early by 15 minutes, however a rush of in-bound aircraft into LHR resulted us holding for almost 20 minutes, so when we landed and finally taxied round to Terminal 2, we were 5 minutes behind schedule.
We taxied past T3, where I was due to transfer and connect onward to Gibraltar, which was a good chance to see some brand new Airbus A35K from Virgin Atlantic plus the British Airways NEGUS retro 747!
We parked next to a Dublin bound A320 in the new livery, and to the left I saw a line-up of 3 Irish registered SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A320-neo, all readying for their next missions to Scandinavia.
I paid a visit to the flight deck before leaving, but new EI rules since my last trip meant I wasn't permitted to take any pictures of the flight deck. Which is understandable given the climate of security in aviation over the last 5 years.
I thanked the crew for a great flight- wishing them a safe journey back to BHD, and left the plane as I had a connection to make.
Belfast - BHD
London - LHR
Aer Lingus- I enjoyed flying with them again, so I am still happy to rate EI as a good airline for UK/Ireland flights. They aren't as cheap as Ryanair- but for anyone who collects Avios, they make a nice change from British Airways. The A320 seat was comfortable for the 1 hour flight, I had enough legroom. Breakfast was lovely, but at £8.40 it is down to what is in it that really makes it worth buying or not- probably wouldn't recommend it on UK flights as the flight time makes it tight to enjoy it.
Belfast City- A good little airport for location & transport connections in Belfast, Really hope the place pulls through after the sudden Flybe collapse. May try one of the restaurants on my next visit....
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A pretty decent experience for a 1h flight and definitely nice to have the option to order an Irish breakfast on such a short flight. The price isn't too bad, though a bit on the expensive side. It's also cool to see a report on EI that doesn't touch DUB!
Thanks for sharing!
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