More in Easyjet
Easyjet A319 Economy class
BACKGROUND Easyjet currently flies daily from Tallinn airport to London Stansted. EZY3446 departs at 2030 Monday-Friday, at 1820 on a Saturday and 2130 on a Sunday. The schedule is set to change from March 28 when the Monday and Wednesday services are dropped and the remaining departure times are changed to 2205 on Sundays and around Midday on all other days.
My Sunday service was scheduled to depart at 2130 and arrive at 22.20. It is served by a 156-seat Airbus A319 (G-EZFR). To see the seating plan, click here.
Easyjet competes against Ryanair which flies to London Luton from Tallinn, and Estonian Air (full service and therefore more expensive) which flies to London Gatwick. Air Baltic, Finnair and Lufthansa offer connecting services via Riga, Helsinki and Frankfurt/Munich respectively.
CHECK-IN I arrived at Tallinn airport at 2015 by taxi, a journey of 15 minutes from where I was staying with traffic typically light. Tallinn isn’t a big city, and the airport is only a few miles from the city centre. At peaks times allow yourself half an hour to get to the airport by taxi or bus. There are no train or tram connections, but the taxi ride should cost no more than €10.
The check-in hall was pretty much deserted at that time of night, and despite its small size, Easyjet was surprisingly well represented with bag drops and a speedy boarding-only desk. This meant that it didn’t matter that I hadn’t checked in online before arriving at the airport, there was no queue to worry about and even if there was, I’d have been able to skip it with speedy boarding.
I had some presents to take back to London with me, which I was carrying in a separate carrier bag to my cabin trolley. Unfortunately it was deemed to be a second piece of hand luggage by the lady at the check-in desk so I had to check my case in as hold luggage, which would normally have cost me extra to do. On this occasion I had one piece of hold luggage included in my ticket price.
I forgot that I had a letter opener in my carrier bag, part of a stationary set I’d been given as a gift. This was of course picked up on the x-ray machine, a reassuring sign that security at Tallinn was doing its job. A very polite and non-threatening member of the security asked to check my bag, and at no time was I made to feel like a criminal. A quick check with his supervisor and I was allowed to keep it, which was very reasonable of them in my opinion.
BOARDING At that time of night there was only one security lane open, meaning there was a slight hold up. It took about ten minutes to get airside, including the time taken to check my letter opener. Once through I had about 15 minutes before I had to be at my gate (2100 according to my boarding pass). Tallinn being the tiny airport it is, there are only 16 gates with the last two being non-Schengen. The walk from security to Gate 16, my gate on this occasion, takes no more than five minutes, plus a little time to pass through passport check.
Once through to the non-Schengen zone, I immediately knew which gate was mine due to the lengthy queue of people. I say queue, really it was more of a mass, with no barriers to encourage a natural queue. Fortunately I had speedy boarding, and although there was no priority queue, we were called to the gate first.
Unfortunately, for some reason, the ‘SB’ speedy boarding letters hadn’t been printed on my boarding pass, which of course caused a little trouble. Luckily I had an email print out of my original booking, which specified speedy boarding, and with a little persuasion I was let through to the airbridge leading to the aircraft.
THE SEAT Seat 1F, a window seat, was surprisingly wide. The seats don’t recline, and the bulkhead meant there wasn’t as much legroom as with seats 1A, 1B and 1C, but I still found it comfortable and clean. The tray table comes out of the armrest on these front row seats, in the absence of a seatback.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? I normally always go for seat 1C on Easyjet flights, because of the legroom and the advantage it gives when disembarking. On this occasion, seat 1C was already taken, and as I’d made friends with a fellow speedy boarder who favoured 1D, I went for 1F by the window. I don’t normally like bulkhead seats because of the restricted legroom, but I actually found that it felt more private. Seats 1A, 1B and 1C are opposite two crew “jump seats”, which for some portion of this flight were occupied by passengers seemingly in need of a break from their travelling partners towards the back of the plane.
1D, 1E and 1F are also slightly better for sleeping, although the noise from the galley is still distracting at time. If you want to sleep, go for one of the over-wing emergency exit rows. You’ll know where these are as that’s where one of the cabin crew will stand to greet passengers.
THE FLIGHT There was a very slight delay in preparing the aircraft pre-flight, caused by concern over a minor problem with the door. But one of the pilots soon put the cabin crews’ minds at rest. We pushed back at 2110 and after a short taxi took off on time.
The cabin crew was up and preparing their cart with drinks and snack, as soon as they could. Hot food offerings included a pepperoni pizza and croque monsieur, priced at about £5 and both very tasty (from past experience). I will normally always either eat before or take my own food on an Easyjet flight, usually buying from the airport where there is more choice.
ARRIVAL We landed well ahead of schedule and was off the plane by 2200, via stairs and a short walk to the gate. The queues at immigration were lengthy, but most were entertained by people trying to use (often in vain) the IRIS machines. Even though I saw some people struggle with the very new-looking IRIS machines at Stansted, I still resolved to register myself as soon as I could, for the simple reason that the queues were so short compared to non-IRIS.
There was then a ten-minute wait at luggage carousel number two. I found one of my trolley pockets to be unzipped, but there was nothing missing (or rather nothing I’ve since missed). By 2230 I was through the arrivals hall and descending to the lower level from where the Stansted Express train departs. I jumped on the 2245 service, which should have called at London Liverpool Street some 45 minutes later. It didn’t as it happens, but that’s a story for another day.
VERDICT A good flight time for anyone spending the weekend in Tallinn on a city break, but not so great for business travellers. The arrival time at Stansted means it’s a rush to get to London before the tube shuts, at around 0020, which can be a concern for anyone travelling beyond London Liverpool Street. Having said that, flight times are set to change (see ‘Background’). The flight itself was punctual, the plane modern and clean, and the cabin crew was friendly.
PRICE A mid-week return in April from Easyjet’s website starts at €145 (£124).