I took a trip to continental Europe in the winter of 2017, with my first port of call being Berlin. As a budget conscious student then, my priority when travelling was on cutting costs where possible. This meant that I naturally gravitated to low cost carriers on my travels.
Ryanair is Europe’s largest low cost carrier (LCC) with its main base at Dublin Airport. This proved to be very convenient as there were more flight frequencies on offer out of Dublin as compared to Belfast. And so it was that this flight from Dublin to Berlin was my first introduction to the airline.
First posted 2 April 2020. Updated 16 February 2023.
Buying my tickets
I bought my tickets on Ryanair’s website. The ticket cost me €21.99 (£20.83) and did not include check-in baggage allowance, seat selections, and onboard meals. All of these are extra frills purchased separately.
At this point in time, Ryanair still allowed 2 cabin bags per passengers. That way, I was able to bring aboard my knapsack and my roller bag. This has since changed, as passengers are now allowed only 1 personal item onboard by default. If you want to bring aboard 2 cabin bags, you now have to purchase Priority which gives you an allowance of 2 cabin bags.
For Ryanair's baggage policy, please visit https://www.ryanair.com/gb/en/plan-trip/travel-extras/travel-essentials
Departure experience at Dublin Airport
Dublin Airport is not only Ireland’s main gateway to the world, but it is also Ryanair’s base of operation.
Ryanair uses Dublin’s older Terminal 1, which used to be Dublin’s main terminal. On the other hand, Ryanair serves Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport. Formerly East Germany’s main airport, it is today a low cost carrier hub for Berlin, and offers great views of Berlin’s new Brandenburg Airport, which even at the time of writing 3 years after this flight, has still not opened.
2023 Update: Berlin Schönefeld is now closed. Berlin Brandenburg Airport opened in 31 October 2020 and now serves all flights to and from Berlin.
Ryanair allows for free online check in from 48 hours up to 2 hours before your flight. Passengers flying using a non-EU/EEA passport on a flight to the Schengen Area are required to present their printed travel documents (passport and boarding pass) at the Ryanair desk for a visa check. This is nothing more than a cursory glance at your documents to ensure you have a visa for the Schengen Area country you’re flying to.
The side effect is that you cannot use the e-boarding pass on the Ryanair app, as Ryanair staff will want to stamp your boarding pass.
Ryanair flights are served at Pier D, requiring a walk through a long bridge from Terminal 1. As befitting Ireland’s main gateway, Pier D is designed with architecture coherent with the rest of the terminal complex despite being meant for low cost carrier operations. It also affords great views of passing aircraft thanks to the huge glass windows.
My flight to SXF was operated by EI-EFY, sporting promotional decals for Poland’s Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship. Flights at Pier D board via stairs as there are no aerobridges installed. Ryanair, on the other hand, uses their Boeing 737’s built-in front airstairs.
We pushed back and departed on time through the cloudy Irish skies. I’d been assigned a window seat, but the window was quite dirty which made photography difficult.
Cabin & Onboard Amenities
EI-EFY was fitted out with the older pre-Boeing Sky Interior cabin with yellow accented overhead bins.
The aircraft was also equiped with Ryanair’s older seats in a 3-3 configuration. These are decently padded, but has all the usual trappings of an LCC with no recline, and no seatback pockets. The aircraft safety card was also pasted as a sticker on the seatback.
Ryanair’s Economy class seats feature a 30 inch pitch, but the lack of recline made it feel slightly narrower. I’ll have to say that these older seats are still more comfortable than their new Safran slimline seats.
Ryanair operates a Buy-On-Board (B.O.B) model for its food and drinks selections. In the years since this flight, Ryanair has also expanded to having its cabin crew participate in donation drives, setting targets for individual crew to meet.
In one of the later Ryanair flights I took, a cabin crew had to perform a second round of fundraising as he hadn’t reached his target on the first round.
On this particular flight I purchased a Chicken & Stuffing granary sandwich. It was edible, but I’m certainly not a fan.
Arrival at Berlin Schönefeld
The flight’s approach path took us around the city, and the glittering skyline of Berlin was visible against the backdrop of the faded winter sunlight. The on time arrival also gave my first introduction to Ryanair’s signature cheesy trumpet tune, played whenever a flight landed on time.
Ryanair lived up to its reputation on this flight – a consistent no-frills airline. On the other hand, I wouldn’t really describe it as enjoyable either.