After avoiding FR for years I decided to give them another go in 2017 as they offered a great deal for a city trip to London. This made also for a nice opportunity to check out how Ryanair has changed after three years of their Always Getting Better Program (AGB). As I came back from that trip quite satisfied, I decided to try them on a longer flight from Berlin (SXF) to Málaga, Spain.
Booking through their website was relatively straightforward. That said, you still have to fend off several upselling attempts including insurance, seat reservations, rental cars, hotels and other incidentals. Unfortunately, Ryanair has also decided to re-complicate its baggage policies/rates. A pitfall to avoid is that the fee for a checked bag almost doubles, if booked after the ticket is issued (25 vs. 40 Euros) – so always consult their fee table before booking. Together with one bag and a seat reservation the flight cost about 80 Euros one-way.
Check-in, Departure Airport
Online check-in was perfectly easy and took just two minutes. Bag-drop in Berlin-Schönefeld (SXF) was expedited with very little waiting time as well. Clearing security, on the other hand, took forever as it was a busy day at the end of the christmas holiday period.
Schönefeld airport, as well as Berlin-Tegel (TXL), should have been closed for years by now, being replaced by Berlin’s new International Airport (BER), but due to massive planning and engineering disasters the opening of BER is postponed until 2020 so SXF will have to remain open well past its prime. The terminals now really show their age and the whole place is dark, stuffy and overcrowded. The saving grace is the Mövenpick restaurant in Terminal D (airside) that sells a wide range of fresh and tasty snacks and flavorful swiss-style coffee.
Boarding started on time and was organized into two separate rows for priority and standard boarding. Beyond the gate both rows were reunited on the same bus and transferred to the Boeing 737 waiting at an outside position – so paying for „priority“ on that day was effectively a 5 € donation to Ryanair.
The flight was operated by a newer aircraft featuring the Boeing Sky Interior. Seat pitch is 30 inches which is one inch more than on eurowings yet still felt tight.
A notable improvement was the well-organized inflight service with flight attendants handing out inflight magazines containing menus first, then taking orders for hot meals and afterwards passing trough the aisle selling drinks and snacks from the cart. I decided to do a full luncheon thing and bought three items from the friendly flight attendant – and each every one was awful in its own right:
The beer was lukewarm and well shaken,
the tasteless, soggy sandwich was loaded with additives and preservatives,
and the coffee tasted exactly the way coffee tastes when you accidentally use a coffee-pad twice.
I do get that airline catering often uses reheated long shelf-life stuff, but this panino was just disgusting. And to ruin canned beer and coffee must be an art form in its own right.
To add insult to injury this combo costs a whopping 13 Euros.
Arrival, Onward Journey
The flight landed in Málaga on time and docked at a Jetway, which was convenient as it was raining quite hard. The walk to arrivals hall was short and bags started to appear on the belt about 12 minutes after landing which was pretty speedy.
Málaga – Costa del Sol (AGP) is a nice enough airport with an open and spacious architecture. There is a RENFE train station right next to the airport connected via a plaza lined with palm trees. Connections to downtown Málaga (Málaga Centro-Almeda) station are frequent. Take the Málaga Cercanías (RENFE) suburban train; the one-way fare is 2,20 Euros. Trains also serve many stations on the Costa del Sol – check the itineraries at www.rome2rio.com.
So in a nutshell this flight was not too bad, but still left me feeling somehow disappointed. Catering was a complete disaster and the hard and tight seats were barely tolerable in this three-hour flight. This will not eliminate Ryanair from set of relevant airlines, but they will have to offer a really low price in order to see me again customer any time soon.