This is part 5 of a series documenting my Memorial Day weekend trip to Sitges, outside of Barcelona. You can read an overview of the trip here.
My journey home from Barcelona was on Aer Lingus, which departs out of Barcelona’s Terminal 2, which is about 4km from Terminal 1 and mostly hosts low-cost carriers (other than Vueling). The train goes directly to T2, but I didn’t want to worry about luggage on a crowded train and changing at El Prat station at rush hour, so I decided to just stick with the Monbus. It’s a little confusing because there are a ton of buses that all leave from the same stop, and there were tons of folks lined up and seemed to know what they were doing. Each bus was well-marked, though, and it came around 8:05am, when I got one of the last seats on what was a pretty full bus, for the 30-minute ride to the BCN’s T1, even with some traffic as we got closer to the city. It was a short walk to the free inter-terminal bus, which left at about 8:41, and arrived at T2 at 8:47am.
Aer Lingus check-in for both its Dublin and Cork flights is staffed by Iberia ground services, and it was a particularly unfriendly interaction. I was surprised there weren’t any kiosks or anything for check-in. There was no real wait, but, as with my Iberia check-in in Boston, the agent talked to her colleague the whole time and basically ignored me. I decided to check my bag rather than lug it around, and it was checked through to New York, and I was given my boarding passes for both flights. By 9:05, I was through security with plenty of time for my 11am scheduled departure.
Security dumped you through duty-free, which then emptied into a typical mall-like terminal. There is a Priority Pass-accepting lounge run by the airport authority, VIP Sala Canudas, shortly after security, but it was pretty bad. The whole place smelled like urine, though the bathrooms in the lounge were quite clean. It was one room, filled with stained beige upholstered furniture and carpet, and also the largest table I’ve ever seen. There was an abnormal number of coat racks. It was pretty empty, so I was able to find an outlet, but otherwise it would have been hard to do so.
In terms of food and beverage, there was a small area at the front of the lounge, with wine, beer, and self-pour spirts, as well as four Nespresso stations. There were some pastries, some institutional-looking meats and cheeses, and then gross packaged sandwiches, including hummus and pickles, and imitation crab. I had a yogurt, coffee, and water, before heading out of the lounge about 30 minutes before scheduled boarding, as I still had to go through immigration to exit the Schengen zone.
One odd sight, a plane with the Airberlin livery on it, months after the airline stopped flying. Whoever bought it (either Lufthansa or Easyjet- my guess the latter) had painted over the name on the side, but not the logo on the tail.
Of course, after I left the lounge, a 30-minute delay was posted. I wandered a bit and got a to-go salad for the flight and headed to immigration, which had no wait despite the many UK and Ireland-bound flights. On the other side was another duty free and a few food places. The non-Schengen area is massive but seemed very underutilized in most areas, except for the seating area immediately around my gate and the gates for several Ryanair flights. The emptiness was definitely weird.
The boarding time on my boarding card was at 10:15am, but I realized the inbound aircraft from Dublin hadn’t even been scheduled to land until 10:20am. There was no real communication, either in the Aer Lingus app or from the gate staff – who weren’t there. At 10:55am, people finally started coming off the inbound aircraft. But it wasn’t until 11:12am that gate agents appeared. People had already started lining up, in the general and priority lines, and then, without any real announcement, at 11:15am, boarding began.
The jetbridge was very crowded, and I was stuck behind a group of very loud Spanish women. As is traditional in Europe, you were asked to present your boarding pass to the flight attendant at the door, but for some reason one of these women refused to. I managed to scoot by by flashing my boarding card and headed to my seat on the A320.
Although I was on a business class redemption, there had only been economy availability on my flight. (Aer Lingus recently added business class on some flights, but there are only 2 rows and I honestly don’t remember if this one had it. It’s also hard to tell the difference between business class and just “preferred” or whatever when boarding.) I had gotten British Airways to assign me a window seat, in the seat behind the exit row, when I booked.
The seat was fine. Aer Lingus’s A320s do not have slim-line seating, so it was pretty well-padded. Legroom wasn’t great, but it rarely is. Boarding took an extraordinarily long time. I noticed the plane was probably half Americans, presumably connecting back to the States via Dublin. The Captain got on and explained that there had been early morning fog in Dublin which caused the delay. Then came the purser, who very much reminded me of the Aer Lingus sketch on Saturday Night Live with Saiorse Ronan earlier this year. She was extraordinarily stern, though not old at all. As she narrated the live safety demonstration, she stopped and scolded a passenger for not paying attention. Finally, after a long taxi over to T1, we were airborne at 12:06pm, about an hour late.
The only service on the flight was the buy-on-board, but prices were surprisingly decent. Sandwiches were 5 EUR, snacks were 2-2.50 EUR; soft drinks and water were 2.50 to 3, beer was 5, and spirits and wine were 6-7. I didn’t partake. Despite a flight time of only a little over two hours, the flight attendants came down the aisle selling stuff twice! It seemed the crew was in the aisle for a full hour of the flight. There was no wi-fi or IFE, and I mostly slept, and we were on the ground at 1:15pm local time, followed by a long taxi and wait for a gate, and a long walk down a sterile hallway to get to DUB’s Terminal 2, not making it to Irish Immigration until 1:45pm.
Next up: the conclusion to my Barcelona trip, and the not-particularly-relaxing connection in Dublin.