May 2018 Fare Finder: Bank Holiday Deals

Your guide to the best value airfares for the month ahead!

We all know that finding and booking flights to your favourite destinations without breaking the bank isn’t easy, so here is a guide that gives you the opportunity to take advantage of the best value air fares. This months edition is focused on finding you some of the best Bank Holiday Monday day trips out there!

For this months Fare Finder, I used Kayak to locate these fantastic value flights. Check them out and grab a bargain for yourself!



Dublin, ireland:

If you were to ask a large group of people what their favourite day trip destination was, I can guarantee the most popular answer would be Dublin! Known world over for being the home of St. James’s Gate since 1759, the Guinness brewery offers an interesting insight and unique perspective on how one of the worlds most popular drinks came to be. Other must see sights include Dublin Castle, The National Museum of Ireland and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Aer Lingus will fly you to Dublin for cheaper than Ryanair, how often can you say that?!

Normally cheap flights to the Irish capital are offered by Ryanair, well known for their no thrills service. However, this deal gives you the opportunity to fly from Birmingham with Ireland’s only 4* airline! Aer Lingus are offering return flights from as little as £85pp return; their excellent flight timings also mean you get a full day in Dublin!

What are you waiting for? Book your flights here!

 

Alicante, spain:

In March’s Fare Finder, we featured Benidorm. Alicante is often seen as the gateway to this Costa Blanca resort, but if you take a closer look, you will find an adventure, that you didn’t even know was there. Overshadowed by the Castillo de Santa Barbara, the Barrio de la Santa Cruz is home to some traditional Tapas bars and narrow picturesque streets that are sure to make an excellent Instagram photo!

Picturesque certainly springs to mind when thinking of Alicante!

Many readers might be surprised to learn that British Airways are offering return flights to Alicante for £90pp. This London Gatwick departure leaves at 6.30am, and offers travelers nearly 14 hours in the city. The BA website can be found by following this link.

 

Manchester, uk:

Not feeling adventurous enough to jet away across Europe? Why not keep getaway closer to home, and spend your Bank Holiday in Manchester? The 180,900 m² Intu Trafford Centre, is the third largest shopping centre in the UK, with bargains to be found in almost every shop, try not to spend too much! Football fans can take tours of the National Museum of Football and cross city rivals Man City and Man United’s grounds. Avgeeks on the other hand might not want to leave the airport and choose to spend all day at the Manchester Airport Viewing Park!

Singapore Airlines’ A350-900 (9V-SMF) as seen from the Runway Viewing Area

Flybe’s Embraer Regional Jet will get you up to Manchester quicker than road or rail, and given the time of the month, probably cheaper than them too. A return ticket will only cost £70pp, but with seats on the Jungle jet limited, don’t leave it too soon to book.

For Flybe’s website, click here.

 

munich, germany:

Munich is a city that has previously featured on Fare Finder. For it to feature twice, surely means that it is a must visit, right? First time visitors to the city will be impressed with the ease at which you can get lost wondering around the streets, discovering the delights of the Bavarian capital. Again, for the Avgeeks who want to make a spotting trip out of it, the Visitors Park just outside the airport’s perimeter is the ideal base. Offering superb 360° views, a well stocked shop and cafe, it really is a must visit for any spotter.

A collection of historic aircraft can be found at the Visitors Park

Ryanair are offering cheap return flights from their Irish headquarters of Dublin. Priced at £81pp return, it really is a steal for a great value day trip. I would recommend using Kayak (the website I used to find all these deals), as you will be able to ensure you get the best price.

 

in next months fare finder:

We look at finding you the best flight deals for June!

Aer Lingus Flagship Dublin Lounge Review

After arriving in Dublin from Southend at around 16:00, I had around 2 hours before boarding began for my connecting flight to Manchester. Unfortunately, although my previous flight was operated by Stobart Air (which uses Terminal 2 under the ‘Aer Lingus Regional’ brand), this flight used the older Terminal 1. Prior to my flight, I had seen conflicting reviews about the terminal transit process in Dublin, but I found the whole experience very smooth.

To connect between terminals, you do have to pass through the Irish Border at passport control. After exiting into the Baggage Reclaim area, simply continue to walk through the hall, following signs for ‘flight connections’. At this point you will take a flight of stairs and arrive at a small passageway into the Terminal 2 Security area. This process seemed almost too simple, but you must have your onward boarding pass with you to use this system.

Whilst Terminal 1 at Dublin airport is claustrophobic, chaotic and in dire need of refurbishment, the relatively new Terminal 2 has a completely different feel. Terminal 2 is where you’ll find Aer Lingus, Etihad and most other long-haul carriers at Dublin – so it has a more premium and modern feel. To access the lounge from the connections security area, I simply turned left and followed a corridor down to the premium lounges at Dublin – these included the Etihad lounge, a generic Dublin Airport lounge (used by a variety of airlines) and the Aer Lingus flagship lounge.

The entrance to the lounge is extremely modest and understated for its size.

Entrance to the Aer Lingus Lounge at Dublin.

After a warm welcome into the lounge, I was met with a surprisingly spacious expanse, with a feature wall paying tribute to important Irish figures, such as the first female President – Mary Robinson. The lounge is full of natural light and, thus, has a fantastic view of the apron for us aviation enthusiasts. iMacs were available for guests’ use – along with a communal desk area –  and there was fast and quick Wi-Fi – something that I value greatly in a lounge. All showers to the lounge are located on the upper mezzanine level (one of the lounge attendants will guide you to an available room, should you want to access the facilities). Whilst I didn’t make use of the shower, this could well be a useful facility.

On the ground floor, the furnishings were tasteful – with a colour scheme of green and warming mahogany, which gave the lounge a homely feel – despite its size. There was a relaxing mezzanine level with an additional mini self-service bar and large seating area – which was completely unoccupied during my time here. The main self-service bar area offered scones, pastries and a selection of hot drinks – whereas the upstairs bar only had a limited offering. The evening’s hot food offering was Beef Goulash – which tasted superb – but I was rather disappointed with the lack of hot food available. I can only suggest that there is a more plentiful food offering at different times of the day.

What really impressed me about the lounge was the amount of power ports available and the positioning. Close to every seat, a power port was available, which is obviously an imperative feature for business travellers.

Although this lounge has big plusses (such as the tranquil and unpretentious atmosphere) and was an inherently positive experience, for a flagship lounge, I wish more food options could be available throughout the day.  Otherwise, I’d have no hesitations using the lounge facility again.


Featured photo courtesy of Aer Lingus

E-Jet Express: Flybe E195 Review

Entering a crowded market is never an easy task – the London to Dublin route has over 50 flights every day, all with carriers already established on the route. In fact, 4.5 million passengers travelled between the British & Irish capitals in 2015, making it the busiest air route in Europe. But in October, Flybe launched services from London Southend – offering a completely different proposition to carriers already in the market. With a three-daily frequency, flying from Southend with Flybe is more relaxing, comfortable and convenient for a whole host of people living in Southeast England and London. So is this the best way to cross the water to Ireland?

The departure lounge at Southend is strategically located next to the departure gates, with the passenger in mind

At around 14:00, the gate was called for my flight to Dublin. The six gates at London Southend Airport form a horseshoe shape around the departure lounge, meaning my departure gate was literally steps away.

My aircraft was the sole Embraer E195 operating for Stobart Air – G-FBEF – which they received in November, and dated back to 2007. Despite being 10 years old, the aircraft’s exterior is aesthetically pleasing and modern, and that doesn’t change when you step onboard. The cabin is configured in a single-class configuration, offering 118 Economy Class seats. The purpose of the Embraer 195 is to straddle the boundaries between a regional and a mainline market – offering better economics to regional carriers who want a regional aircraft. This makes the E195 the perfect aircraft for Stobart Air to expand its route portfolio with, and to launch a trunk route such as London-Dublin.

With jovial crew member Donantinou on hand to greet passengers, my initial impressions of the cabin were positive. The seats had lots of padding, making them very comfortable and easy to relax in – rather than more modern slim- line alternatives. The entrance to the aircraft was spacious and the cabin had a very airy feel – with extremely large eye-level windows (up to 30% larger than most other aircraft) to let in lots of natural light. Although the seats were provided lots of comfort, with ample legroom for the short hop across the Irish sea, they had a low seat back with no headrest. This is a minor point, but one to consider, as one may want to take a travel pillow with them for extra comfort.

The E-195 seats 118 passengers, in a single class configuration

The benefit of a 2-2 configuration is not to be underestimated. The “Double-Bubble” fuselage concept is a shape derived from overlapping two ovals to form a four-abreast cross section. The widest point of the upper oval is at the passenger’s elbow level, maximising personal space and allowing for wider seats and aisles than larger aircraft. The lower oval is widest in the baggage and cargo hold which boosting space for your luggage. With no dreaded middle seat, easy access to onboard facilities such as overhead lockers, and lots of headroom – this concept makes the Embraer a winner with passengers and superior to many mainline cabin standards. This configuration is also highly beneficial for companies too, with fast boarding and deplaning, allowing for quick turnaround times.

Flybe uses the same ‘Café Air’ onboard refreshment service on all flights, but included some hot food options on this route – something that wasn’t available on my ATR flight from Manchester.  Prices were not unreasonable for short-haul low cost flying.

Deboarding G-FBEF in Dublin

The crew – Gerry, Sharon & Donantinou – were very pleasant throughout, and I spoke to Donantinou several times during the flight. He kindly let me stay onboard after disembarkation to take some pictures of the empty cabin and he shared his thoughts with me about his career and enjoying his work aboard the Embraer.

Our routing took us north of the M25, over the Cotswolds and the valleys of Southern Wales before making the trip over the Irish sea. We arrived into Dublin ahead of schedule, at 15:45 and I visited the cockpit – which sports fly-by-wire technology.

Conclusion

This flight had a more personable feel to those mainline and ultra low-cost carrier flights, all to familiar on UK-Dublin sectors. It proved to be more relaxing, quick, easy and comfortable than any other flights I’ve taken – from the punctuality, to the relaxing cabin and ease of London Southend airport. If you are looking to fly from London to Dublin in an effortless and calm manner, look no further from Flybe’s express across the water.