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Ryanair diary: One Night in Barcelona’s Girona Airport

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Stuck in Girona

In the spring of 2006, I was able to score some super-cheap tickets on Ryanair for a last-minute getaway to Barcelona from London, where I was living. It had been a great weekend, made possible I only had to pay the airport tax. The catch? I had to fly into and out of two less-than-central airports, London’s Stansted and Barcelona’s Girona airport. It was worth it, right?

What follows is a diary of my flight experience en route from Barcelona to London.

4:30 PM: I arrive early at the airport for a 6 PM flight. We all know you have to get to the gate before the other passengers in order to snag the best seat.

5:00 PM: Shortly after check-in, an announcement is made. The flight has been delayed an hour.

Ok, some extra time to score a panini at Girona’s atmospheric café. (In the above photo, do I look like I’m ready for take-off?)

Tip: Stock up on food, just in case. Girona’s airport café closed at 9 p.m. I’m glad I grabbed a sandwich when I did. Others would not be so lucky.

7 PM: A second announcement. The flight has been delayed for another hour. All assembled groan and pull out iPods, books and approved electronic devices. One nearby traveler starts clipping his nails over a waste basket, violating all manner of social codes (are clippers even allowed on airplanes?).

8:15 PM: A third announcement. Drum roll, please: The flight has been delayed for another two hours. The announcer says, with a tinge of exhaustion in her voice, “We hope to leave by 11. Thank you for your patience.” The thought of work the next morning was beginning to make me vaguely nauseous.

Around 10 PM: Boredom sets in. All other flights have taken off. The airport feels empty, save the other poor souls flying to Stansted. With hardly anyone around, I attempt to fit myself, horizontally, into a row of seats in any way that could lead to sleep. I am not successful.

where is everybody? hello?
Above: Nothing happening under flourescent lights.

Tip: Bring back-up diversions. That could mean catching up on your trip journal, watching all the TV shows you earlier loaded up on your iPod, making progress on that novel, or even flipping through some celeb mags. In short, have something to do. I had packed “Madame Bovary,” which only helped put me to sleep.

11:30 PM: All other flights have left the Girona airport, and there’s still no sign of our airplane. The 20 Stansted-bound passengers are told we will not take off until after midnight. No excuse is given.

Tip: Make friends…if there are any out there. At some point after midnight, I found myself chatting with a couple from Los Angeles. A bottle of vodka became open. (Glad they took advantage of Duty Free when it was open…hours ago.) I pass up a shot (work seems ludicrously close), but others around happily partake. The mood lifts… and distorts.

1:30 AM: We take off, nine hours after my arrival at the airport.

Tip: Know when to go! Turns out there’s more than one good reason not to check any luggage on a budget flight. If you’re delayed, you could risk missing the last bus out of the arrival airport.

2:30 AM: We arrive at Stansted and immediately there’s a mad dash for the bus to London. And for good reason: The last one leaves the airport at 3 am (and sometimes earlier, depending on reasons I couldn’t quite understand). If you miss the last bus, you have to get a taxi, which can cost upwards of £60, or wait until 7 am when the buses start up again. I make the bus.

3:30 AM: I’m dropped off at Marble Arch on Oxford Street. What’s my name? Who am I? And how do I get a taxi? Work the next morning was, well, another story…

In the end, this experience didn’t deter me from flying on budget airlines. Over the next year, I’d often take cheap flights, including easyJet and Aer Lingus, for quick getaways. But I learned something about flexibility that long night in Girona.

Read another Cheapo’s tale of a long night in Stansted. Got a good airport story? Leave a comment or send us a note.

About the author

Meredith Franco Meyers

About the author: Meredith earned an MFA in fiction writing at The New School in New York City. Her feature stories and articles have appeared in Ladies' Home Journal, American Baby, Self, Bridal Guide, Time Out New York, Fitness and more. She joined EuroCheapo in summer 2007.

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4 thoughts on “Ryanair diary: One Night in Barcelona’s Girona Airport”

  1. My friend and I booked a flight into Girona and were stupid enough not to see where it was located into comparison to the city center. We landed at about 6pm, and didn’t want to go into the city to get a hostel, etc., and our friends weren’t arriving until 3pm the next day. So…we spent a lovely 21-ish hours waiting in the arrival section [yes…not even the ‘nicer’ part with all the restaurants, etc. just sitting…and waiting…and waiting… Was it fun at the time? No…it was not fun…and it was not at all funny. A year later? It’s hilarious, and I wish I would have made a video or something capturing our reactions back then, but I can’t :(. But it was kinda funny to see someone else had a similar predicament and wrote about it :). We were trying to think of the little cafe that was in there, not sure if you remember the name, but if you did I’d greatly appreciate it :)

    -Michael-

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  2. Pingback: Ryanair Is Coming To The U.S.! | Budget Travel Tips - EuroCheapo

  3. Gah! I hate public nail clippers! Doesn’t that sound just make you cringe?

    On my 5-hour bus ride from Stansted to London two weeks ago (story forthcoming on the blog), across from me sat two Czechs who’d stocked up on Campari in the duty-free. I think it came out about 2 hours into our ride — luckily for them, it was one of those boxes that included free glasses too. “Best money we ever spent,” I overheard them tell someone on their mobile during one of their status updates to friends in London.

    These days, a delay like the one you describe would have earned you 250 euros compensation from the airline. Know your rights, fellow travelers!

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  4. I used to fly a US budget line Southwest all the time when I was in college and I got in the habit of not checking anything more than was necessary. Then I finally talked myself out of this habit when I took an international flight and, yes, they lost my bags! This was one of the major UK companies as well. They did find my bags and bring them to where I was staying, but it was a harrowing few hours when we didn’t know where they were.

    Now I carry-on again unless I’m bringing lots of stuff I could stand to loose.

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