For the last time

As Air France/CityJet have now closed their summer route from London City to Avignon we’ve been forced to look at other ways of getting from Canary Wharf back home to the Languedoc.

Having travelled Ryanair Bristol to Beziers many times (pre-children) when we commuted to the UK for work we decided to try the Luton Beziers route.

Our car currently has a flat battery and is stuck in the garage due to lack of use probably so we decided to take a taxi to Luton. At 5.30 the driver collected us and after my husband had fitted their car seats into the taxi (the driver had no idea how to fit them & simply sat them on the seat!) we set off through the back end of beyond & some rather dodgy parts of London. After 1 hour of weaving in and out of side streets as London woke up we finally saw the sign for the M1…I was glad as even I was beginning to feel a little ill…I felt sure we needed a miracle that our 2 year old who’d already been given her anti-sickness pill was not going to bless this taxi.

After a little moaning from the back & the odd cough which had me on alert we finally arrived at Luton to great relief in plenty of time (2 hours before the flight even though we were hand baggage only), I prefer to be organised these days.

We sailed through security & met up with some friends in the lounge. Our flight was due to board at 9.25 and after waiting ages & eagerly studying the screens at 9.15 they announced the gate. We set off, being 7m pregnant I had to stop for the usual ‘quick visit’ (9.18) along the way at which point the announcement came that the gate was now closing. I rushed along our 2 year old who started complaining and needed to be carried, my hubby now carried both children and some hand baggage. We then saw a sign saying Gate was 5 minutes walk away (9.24) so started to jog, not fun at 7m pregnant & pulling small trolley & carrying change bag although we did overtake a few senior citizens who were also not finding the trek much fun. I felt sorry for them as they clearly couldn’t jog & the pressure was mounting as they announced the final call for our flight.

On arrival at the gate we saw an enormous queue, they hadn’t actually opened the gate at all nevermind finished boarding. By now I was shattered and needed a sit down, the kids were grumpy having been hussled along. All our preparation of being early & travelling stress free was ruined by the way they gave us 10 minutes notice of the gate & then pressurised us into being there or risk missing our flight.

As we couldn’t go very fast with our infants (no pushchair as we have one in both countries & wanted to travel light) & with me waddling to the gate we ended up behind roughly 100 people. Now as we already know Ryanair is No Frills so we didn’t expect to be asked to board after priority like other airlines and we weren’t surprised when they didn’t ask. We simply waited & boarded behind everyone to find there were few seats left on the plane. EXCEPT that is…the precious 3 rows with trays down that crew keep for invisible passengers.

The crew saw us board and tried to re-arrange other passengers half way down the aircraft to allow our 2 year old to sit next to me and for my husband to sit with the infant on his lap. We couldn’t sit on the 3 precious rows because apparently it would unbalance the aircraft…WHAT?? I am scared that if the aircraft is unbalanced because 3 rows are occupied on the plane when the rest of the plane is full…god help us and I don’t think I want to trust flying on a Ryanair aircraft again. Isn’t it funny that Easyjet, BA & Air France don’t have this balance problem…

I am suspecting it is something to do with weight distribution & fuel saving but why don’t they just say this…and if the flight is almost full bar these 3 rows surely the saving cannot be sufficient to justify hassling passengers & moving them around. Now I’m not saying I wanted priority treatment, I would have paid if I’d wanted that, I’m just saying it seems ridiculous to block off 3 rows of seats & have everyone else shuffling round. There is a security issue (nevermind making the flight unpleasant for everyone else) if a 2 year old cannot sit next to a responsible adult, but with the gate catastrophy finding 2 seats together was proving tricky.

Now to annoy me further an older woman was sat with her leg sticking out & her husband was in the window seat, between them sat an empty seat. The crew asked if she could move up so my husband could sit there, she refused saying her leg was bad & couldn’t move. Fair enough. EXCEPT when the fasten seatbelts sign turned off as we’d landed she positively jumped out of her seat & ran to the front of the aircraft to get off first leaving her husband stranded. Nice one.

So that was my last journey with Ryanair & from Luton unless we are desperate, it wasn’t even cheap £300 for 2 adults, 1 child & 1 infant with no baggage/infant equipment/priority.

Why do they give such little notice of the gate when they know it is so far away. No frills means I expect to pay for everything, baggage, drinks, hot food, Hello Magazine, Scratchcards, Fake Cigarettes, Stop Smoking Kits, Scratchcards again, snacks, Katie Price perfume, breathing etc, I don’t expect fitness training included too…No wonder the ‘special needs’ section is so busy!

Next time I’m flying Easyjet from Gatwick to Montpellier, lets hope that’s a better journey. It’s such a shame as I like Beziers airport but I won’t travel Luton again if I can help it.

I now think there are definitely 3 classes of travel, Club/Premium (not in our league), Economy (normal airlines & hopefully Easyjet) and Cattle Class (Ryanair) - I’m worried Ryanair’s next trick will be to slap your behind with a big stick as you board the aircraft…to save a precious 5 minutes boarding time. I wonder what else they’ll come up with next!

We’re very lucky Wendy to have so many options into the South of France & all over the UK, I would rather pay the extra 35euro to fly an airline other than Ryanair after the last trip, lets see how I feel about Easyjet. Perhaps I’m just spoilt by BA, Cityjet where we have allocated seats taking most of the stress out of flying as far as I’m concerned. I agree travelling alone you really don’t care about seating or even in a couple but when travelling en famille it becomes a pain.

Last time I flew from Birmingham to Montpellier with Ryanair to avoid the crap Luton Nimes flight time.

I paid Euro16 one way from Nimes to LTN and it would have been Euro49 with Easyjet from MPL to LTN - coming back from BHX same price but 3pm flight.

I was travelling alone - but can't wait for the time I fly with my 3 yr old and 6 yr old... and get on without priority boarding or allocated seats.. very happy for Ryanair to have to accommodate us... or have somebody else get my 3 yr old. Come on Ryanair, how expensive would it be to get your computer to allocate seats when reservations are made?

Still, they fly the routes nobody else does... when I got there 13 yrs ago it was just British Airways into MPL and 3 times the price...