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November 10th, 2008

Ryan Air: Adventures in Flying

 My trip from Tucson via JFK to London was remarkably uneventful. That string ended today.

Since I am new to LJ I probably haven't mentioned yet how much I dislike Ryan Air. But at the moment they are the only airline that flies from London into the Ciampino airport in Rome, which is only about ten minutes from my home.

Along with the loud advertisements they play over the airplane speakers (especially before takeoff) and the absurd limits on checked baggage (15 kilo max, at a cost, which is only about 33 pounds; and then who-knows-what for overweight...) is the inconvenience that they fly from Stansted Airport. As I was staying in Wimbledon this trip (diametrically opposite side of London from Stansted) it makes getting to the airport a pain under the best of conditions.

Today did not start with the best of conditions.

The connection between Wimbledon and Stansted is a series of tubes. Massive, massive tubes. And these tubes get filled up... 

I got to the Wimbledon train/Underground station only to find that the District Line trains were not operating. Not only did this nix my plan for a slow-but-easy with luggage route (District Line to Circle Line to Liverpool Station and the Stansted Express), it also meant that I had my two bags with me on trains overcrowded with other commuters also dislocated from the District Line onto Southwest Rail. 

Got to Stansted on time. Weighed my bag. Six kilos over. I have done this before, was prepared to pay about $50 overage. No more. Now it is 12 Pounds Sterling per kilogram. Or £72 total. For the Americans in the group, that comes to $112 for 13 extra pounds of luggage.

Have I mentioned how much I hate Ryan Air? If it weren't for the ease of getting home from Ciampino Airport, I would never take them.

Then, as we are boarding the plane, we get the news. Last minute change. Today they were flying us into the other airport in Rome, Fiumicino, Far, far away from where I wanted to be.

It turns out, another Ryan Air flight, as it was landing at Ciampino this morning, hit a flock of birds. Ate of few of them. Skidded off the runway. Five people injured, nobody (thank God) seriously. But Ciampino was shut down for the rest of the day. 

And, as I started to grumble, I realized... I was lucky. I could have been on that other plane.

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