Posted by on 24 Jun 2011. Filed under Features, Top news. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

It’s a long long way from here to there

If you wanted, for example, to travel from London to Bratislava (one way) today and you choose not to fly steerage you could travel with British Airway via Vienna, granted you would need to avail of the bus that runs hourly from Vienna Airport to the heart of Bratislava. The bus will cost you just under €10 , this includes paying for your  suitcase ( unless you have carry on luggage) and your passage, sound familiar? British Airways will take £262.30 (€294.22)  for a single Economy Class or Euro Saver flight  alternatively fly Business class and pay  €831.95.

photo: Jon Gos

photo: Jon Gos

If you are coming from Dublin you might choose Aerlingus to Vienna  they will ask you for €173.88 for a one way ticket.

The alternative is, the airline people love to hate, Ryanair, who will ask for €128.58 including a 20 kilo baggage allowance from stanstead to Bratislava saving you over €160.00 and the bus fare, but a staggering €271.88 from Dublin to Bratislava costing you almost €100.00. more, less a tenner for the bus of course.

Aer lingus will charge you for drinks and food, whereas British Airways don’t.  Aer lingus give more arm and leg room plus reclining seat as long as you do not sit in an exit row as do British Airways. The chances are  Ryanair will have a Slovak or Czech crew member on the Bratislava/Vienna service,  it’s a bigger gamble if British Airways and Aer lingus will have one.

Booking flights at the last minute is a precarious exercise at the best of times.

Air travel is public transport, nothing more nothing less. Many people still think its exotic, but it’s not. I am sure a person’s first time on a bus or tram is exotic also. People take trains where as it is often cheaper to fly, but do they expect to be waited on hand and foot on a train unless it is a first class ticket or the Orient Express, people see this form of transport as basic and do not expect frills, you lug your own luggage too. Trains  are not as dependent on atmospheric conditions and might be more reliable based on this, or are they in fact more reliable.

Ferries are also seen as basic, but they offer great amenities on board. Many ferries are similar to mini cruises.  Anyone who has been stuck in a ferry port waiting for a storm to abate and then waiting after it has for their ferry to arrive and be serviced and reloaded after such an event before it departs, I am sure, would much rather be stuck in Bratislava Airport waiting for the volcanic ash to clear.

Prior to air fares becoming affordable for the normal Joe in the street, people took the coach, train and ferry services, 24 hours on a coach from Slovakia to London, no thanks. I remember in 1988 I took a ferry and train to London,  an arduous experience I never hope to repeat, which at the time it cost about £50 or £60. I was a skint Student back then and could not afford an airfare over £200, but today I can fly for less.

On my first trip to Slovakia back in 2002 I paid €665.00 return for my bike, a pillion and a cabin. Today it’s about €430.00. Why? Low cost airlines. The ferry makes a lot more  from meals, drinks and shopping etc than an airline as 18 hours is a long time, even if you do sleep for 8 of those.

Taking the bike to Slovakia was a great trip, I toured from Cherbourg, through Fance, across Germany and the Czech Republic, B.A to Dukla and back home through Poland, Germany, Belgium and France. I know many Slovaks who have done this trip with 5 people in a car to save money, but using  € 300 of fuel + meals + ferry etc, each way, where the only benefit is having a car at your disposal when you reach your destination.

So why do people moan? They moan because they can, they do not want to pay premium prices for premium services, they want to pay for the minimum but receive the optimum. It’s human nature I guess.  Take a Lada and put a BMW badge on it, maybe some fool will buy it.

People really need to see things for what they are. Admittedly, Ryanair, Easyjet and their comrades may not always be the cheapest or the most courteous, but they are the reason why its now cheaper to use  many forms of mass public transport. If you do not like it, do not buy it. How many people purchase a new Lada and then moan about it, not very many.  In fact, they form clubs and appreciate them for what they are, warts and all.

If you have alternatives, then use them, and don’t moan about a service you choose to avail of, fly British Airways, pay over €850.00 and then moan that the air-hostess’ boobs were not the May West, or that the grub was terrible, and so on.

22 Comments for “It’s a long long way from here to there”

  1. George M

    Good point Bag ! I guess much of it is history and this nationalistic crap, where the Austrians just will not move from there own motherland, ie. traveling one hour to fly in munchkin Slovakia . I met an Austrian once and I wanted to order a nice French Chablis for lunch…he told me he only ever drank Austrian wines !!!

    You must also remember that an Austrian group won a expensive tender bid, to run BA airport and then got screwed by Fico …and he let them have the short straw and let them have only Kosice airport, rather than them both ….The Austrians now think screw you Slovakia .

    The other problem is Slovak nationalistic pride …BA airport is not an International airport, never was ….But is Slovakia’s airport in their capital city …history here dictates that pride always comes before a huge fall …and it is a buyers market at the moment not a sellers . How many Slovaks are still trying to sell 200K flats in the City Centre for 250k ??? Slovaks are always looking for someone else to solve their problems and their dream is to find some stupid foreign investor ( with brown envelopes ) to help …..

    • Noel Flannery

      So true in many way’s, thank god there are some normal people here too. But many are still trying to cherry pick from the old and the new system. That will never work, maybe short term, but very short term!

  2. james novak

    What has the size of stewardesses breasts or the size of stewardses penises got to do with travel advice?

  3. Bagpuss

    If I may twist this thread again ..Is it not strange how UN-Strategic Bratislava Airport is for the Central Euro region . Look at how Vienna airport ( and Austria many working regional airports ) runs a full program of flights to most of the world. Bratislava in 10 years has lost fights to many major cities and if it was not for Ryanair then the place would perhaps close ? Why do Austrian Air not fly a single flight from Bratislava ? Surely handling costs would be cheaper , as I am told Schwechat is a very expensive place to land . Will the 8 Million Austrians not travel one hour to Slovakia ….is it the lack of a fast train service to and from the motherland, or plain Nazi bigotry ??? I remember how the rudely & badly the Austrian border guards used to treat Slovaks, as I used to cross the border by coach and car, pre the EU entry. Is it that Slovaks just dont travel by air or what ??? What happened to Poprad …Zilina, now Sliac and what planes go really where other on charter holiday or to Bratislva or Praha from Kosice ????

    • Noel Flannery

      Very good question indeed, maybe the sales strategy needs to be addressed, I also hear that vie is very expensive for landing fees etc, maybe Ryanair have strong armed BA who knows, not out of the realms of possibility,

    • James Baxter

      ‘is it the lack of a fast train service (from Ba to Vienna)?’ That is an issue worth discussing in itself, regardless of airports. Last time I was on the ‘REX’, I began to think I was in a taxi doing a door-to-door drop-off service it stopped so often.

      As far as I know, there are still two CSA flights a day from Zilina-Prague. Used to be full when the service started apparently, much less so now. Not that I’ve ever used it myself.

  4. Stefan B

    I have just paid for 2 x tickets from Vienna to Heathrow and back 443 euro’s with BA !!! where are you getting your facts from? its flying at the end of August!! peak times…..

    Ryan air is a crap airline!!! If the dribbling Irish only have Guiness & Ryanair to be joyed about! bless their cotton sock!!!

    Ryanair pilot, Paddy… Is flying into Manchester. The plane is in trouble, so he calls the tower and says ‘help, help! Easter Monday.
    Pancake Tuesday. New years eve. Halloween. Bonfire night! Voice comes back and says, ‘ for f**k sake Paddy, it’s Mayday!! :-) ))

    Arthur Guinness first began brewing in 1759. The ‘Guinness’ we know today, was first drunk by London porters (brewed in London) and imported into Dublin.

    Why do so many jokes exist about the Irish?

    • George M

      Why are there so many jokes about the Irish ? Well for the same reason there are so many jokes made by the Hungarians about the Slovaks …Too many potatoes ( nochie) between the ears ….

    • Noel Flannery

      Source was the B.A, Ryan air and Aerlingus websites on Wednesday last, and all flight were scheduled for Friday, today. Any traveler knows that flights vary depending on the day of travel, time of year and how far in advance they are booked.

    • Noel Flannery

      A beer called stout and extra stout was drunk the porters, hence its also know as porter, the brew has changed quite a bit since Arthur’s time and has many variations today, from Draught, extra cold Draught. Export, Stout, extra stout there is even an alcohol free Guinness. What actually made Guinness a world leader was the British army and WW1, as did the British army do for Scotch whisky. There is also Beamish, Murphys, Mackesons, Makesons is most likely the closest to the original porter consumed back in the day. As for Irish jokes, mockery is the lowest form of flattery but is still flattery none the less.
      Here is my Irish joke offering: No Catholics were employed by Harland and Wolfe on the Titanic or her sister ships, because the were far to busy making the largest ice cube the world has know.

  5. James Baxter

    I knew this was coming. Fair enough I guess as some of us have tried to turn various pretty much unrelated threads into a debate on Ryanair. It’s time they had a blog of their own.

    I can relate to some points. I too no longer wish to take a 24 bus ride to the UK and I have no wish either to pay 262 quid (I’ll take your word for the price) one-way from London to Vienna. I also agree that plane travel isn’t and never has been exotic. It’s uncomfortable, your ears hurt, you’re forced into proximity with strangers whoever you fly with. It’s a means to an end, nothing more, nothing less and the sooner it’s over the better.

    But it’s a bit rich to suggest that people moan because ‘they want to pay for the minimum but receive the optimum’. People moan because, although they pay relatively low fares with Ryanair, the fares are not so low as to mean there shouldn’t be any level of service whatsoever. They also don’t mean that the chief executive and the rest of his staff should be showing out and out contempt for the people who ensure their dominant position on the market, ie the passengers.

    For me, Ryanair are a Tesco of the skies. They’re big, they’re aggressive, they’ve driven out the competition. We might welcome this now when, as you suggest, fares are at least not too bad, but what about in a few more years when even more of the competition has gone and fares and extra costs (in which Ryanair increasingly specialise) creep up until we suddenly think ‘actually they’re not cheap at all and now they’re the only choice on the market’? As we regret the passing of small specialist shops because of Tesco, we might wish there was some competition still around. No doubt you’ll laugh at the mention of Sky Europe. Their business model might have been unsustainable but didn’t that have at least a bit to do with an inability to compete with Ryanair? And say what you like, their service was, until the end was inevitable, as reliable as Ryanair’s and they tried harder to make the whole experience a bit less unpleasant.

    I’ll go on using Ryanair, I’m sad to say, because they’re the only airline that flies direct from BA to Birmingham or Liverpool, the nearest airports to my UK home. But I don’t feel good about that and I’m definitely not going to thank Mr O’Leary and his minions for it. And no more am I going to thank them for, as someone said on another thread, ‘opening up’ Europe. Because one thing that’s meant is that drunk, aggressive Brits, the kind of people who make me happy I don’t have to share a country with them most of the time, have more and more chance to make decent peoples’ lives a misery everywhere from Malaga to Riga.

    I might not look hard enough but I don’t see paeans of praise to Tesco and Walmart in many publications so I’d rather the praise for Ryanair was also kept in check.

    • George M

      Ryanair the Tesco of the skys ?? At least Tesco staff are pleasant ( well other than in Tesco Slovakia ) and offer a money back guarantee, if not satisfied with the product they sold you ….

    • Noel Flannery

      Fair comment James, manners cost nothing, but what many failed to spot is, Swine Air are not always the cheapest, Aer Lingus who operate A320′s and A321′s all quite new and far more comfortable that Micks 737/800′s with budget fit out and one less loo than the norm 737/800, was almost €100.00 cheaper than Ryanair! and there is only a 30 or so minute departure time difference from Dublin, also Aer Lingus flight time is 15 minutes less, Its my opinion that Ryan air allow extra flight time in order to compensate, therefore giving the the illusion of the on time airline .

      • James Baxter

        ‘Its my opinion that Ryan air allow extra flight time in order to compensate, therefore giving the the illusion of the on time airline.’

        More contempt for the passenger then. The point about the crew being narkey because they have more duties than those on Aer Lingus is not of great consolation to people who are being treated like dirt. We’re talking about service.

        I’d also dispute the Lada comparison. Yes, they’re cheaper than Mercedes but there are certain guarantees when you buy any kind of new car. You’re on your own when you book a Ryanair ticket and something goes wrong (admittedly nothing serious has to me – yet.)

        And we choose to fly Ryanair? I didn’t when SkyEurope were in their heyday(?!) and I wouldn’t if there was a realistic alternative today, ie one that flew close to where I wanted to go for a half-decent price. The London airports are useless to me given where I need to go and the ridiculous ‘walk-on’ travel fares in the UK. No, Ryanair are a necessary evil – with the emphasis on the evil.

    • Noel Flannery

      The article was not in praise of Ryanair, thus the Aer Lingus comparison of being a hell of a lot cheaper.. I am not surprised they crew are narkey, they fly the maximum amount of sectors permitted by the Airline authorities and have far more duties than the Aerlingus counterparts. Yes the choose to work for Ryanair as do the passenger who fly with Ryan make a similar choice. The fare offered on Mick Menus is disgusting, I tried the breakfast once, Beans a wieners in a pot is not a full British or Irish breakfast, the Aerlingus offering is only missing the eggs plus you get nice whole meal bread, Kerrygold butter and marmalade, orange juice and a tea or coffee for an extra €2 approx. Oh yes a knife, fork, tea spoon, salt , pepper, sugar, milk and a fresh wipe. Ryanair is the National express of the air, it is what it is, we should just accept that or fly with another airline, failing this grow wings.
      My Ryanair favorite mickey taker is the alcohol they served in Johnny wrappers ( condom wrappers to the non Brits and Paddies). Making a total James Hunt of things.

  6. George M

    Why write an article when your readers have already made and heard these same comments on the Dublin-Slovak thread …? Hardly original stuff .

    Chaos, panic, disorder and now utter boredom – Is my work done here ?

    • James Baxter

      Because we twisted that thread (and others!) in order to discuss Ryanair so the conclusion was that it needed a separate thread(?) A point I’ve also already made so I’m shutting up now for the night. Not sure whether or not to say it’s good to see you back on form, George, but I thought you might be sickening for something when you agreed with me earlier in the week.

    • Noel Flannery

      Again George misses the point, the article was a comparison, or did you fail to see that too. And yes Tesco staff are very polite when they asked a heavily pregnant woman to lift 6No. 1.5L bottles or water on the the belt when all the staff member had to do last lean a little and it was the check out designated for pregnant ladies, by the way I was the one who lifted them into her trolley. Also I saw them wait politely whilst a kid under , way under 18 fiddled with change and a lunch voucher to pay for cigarettes and red bull.

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