Bratislava is connected to the rest of Europe by its small airport. With its geographical location being virtually right next to the much bigger Vienna, Bratislava’s airport can’t really hope to compete for premium traffic with Vienna’s airport.
Instead, Bratislava Airport is a hub for low cost carriers with the most prominent being Ryanair. As I needed to get back to Ireland, Ryanair was the no-brainer option that would take me back to Dublin.
First posted 3 April 2020. Updated 16 February 2023.
Buying my tickets
I bought my tickets on Ryanair’s website. The ticket cost me €28.49 (£26.98), 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 Bratislava Airport
Bratislava M. R. Štefánik Airport is Slovakia’s main air gateway and provides a second access option to the city after the nearby Vienna International Airport.
The glassy modern terminal is also designed in response to the lower passenger numbers. There are only 2 rows of island check-in counters, and departing & arriving passengers share the same floor space landside. It has to be said that Bratislava Airport certainly knows how to do interior deco, with a vintage Caproni Ca.33 aircraft on display in the departure hall, suspended from the ceiling.
I had checked in online, but had to head to one of the check in counters for a travel documents check. This is one of the quirks faced by non-EU passengers when travelling on Ryanair.
All passengers pass through the Schengen Area gates after security. This part of the airport has the bulk of the retail and F&B outlets, and boasts some decent view of the tarmac. If you get lucky, you might spot some Slovak Government aircraft lounging out on the tarmac.
I got lucky and spotted a pair of old Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft enjoying the cold.
Flights departing for non-Schengen destinations, like Dublin, are handled from a separate gate area built into the airport’s former Terminal B building. Border control counters are located before this area, where passengers pass through departure immigration.
The non-Schengen gates have less retail options than the Schengen gates, so I recommend hanging around the Schengen gates until just before your flight is ready for boarding.
Operating FR4283 to Dublin was 1 year old EI-FOI, which at the time of writing has been with Ryanair subsidiary Malta Air as 9H-QBU since November 2019.
Bratislava Airport does not have jetbridges, and so boarding is done the old fashioned away. It may have been cold, but it did offer some nice views of aircraft on the tarmac.
I was unfortunately assigned an aisle seat, which meant that I couldn’t really enjoy the views on departure from snowy Bratislava.
Cabin & Onboard Amenities
Ryanair’s cabin is the typical Economy class-only offering for low cost carriers, with the seats arranged in a 3-3 configuration.
The aircraft was sporting Boeing’s Sky Interior complete with Ryanair’s then new Safran slimline seats. The airline’s yellow-blue colour scheme had carried itself over to the new seats, and gave a rather bright and cheery vibe to the cabin – perfect for a low-cost carrier.
It was my first introduction to these slimmer seats and I wasn’t exactly impressed by them. While Ryanair seats famously has no recline, the older seats mitigated the experience by having pretty thick padding. This is all gone now as the slimline seats cut down on padding in the grand scheme of squeezing in more seats on the airplane.
While Ryanair does offer a decent 30 inches of seat pitch, you should know that this is achieved thanks to the thinner seat padding. So while you do have some room to stretch, any illusion of comfort is shattered when you press your back into the seat and realise that you’re stuck in that position.
The cabin was still in good shape, but it appeared that some passengers may have been overzealous with their reach when storing their bags in the overhead lockers, as evidenced by the scratch marks clearly visible.
I was sat next to 2 fellow passengers who were absolute chatterboxes during the entirety of the flight. Seeking to block out the chatter, I slipped in and out of a nap for the entirety of the flight, and didn’t bother with the onboard catering either
Arrival at Dublin Airport
The approach to Dublin gave passengers with window seats a great view of sunnier and greener Ireland, which was probably why my planeful of Slovak passengers were headed to Ireland in the first place.
Dublin Airport is very compact, and we were soon disembarking at Pier D of Terminal 1.
Ryanair was consistent in its service standards onboard this no-frills flight. It was affordable and convenient, but the uncomfortable slimline seats did suck the fun out of an otherwise pleasant flight.