I’m sure you have all seen various types of airports in your lifetime. There are tiny grass or dirt based landing strips that function as airports on remote locations, small huts with paved runways in rural areas, airports that serve as regional hubs and then there are the big and bigger international airports like London Heathrow, JFK and the likes. But there is a new set of airports out there: converted military airfields transformed to regional hubs for low(est) cost airlines. The Lower Rhineland airport Weeze (IATA: NRN) fits into that description.
50 kilometres northwest of Dusseldorf and 30 km southeast of the Dutch town of Nijmegen, Weeze airport used to be the military airbase RAF Laarbruch. According to Wikipedia, the airport serves 6 airlines but its main customer clearly is the Irish run Ryanair with a fairly good selection of flights to various destinations in Europe.
My flight back to London Stansted (IATA: STN) that day was slightly delayed, but other than that operations at the airport were efficient and I passed through the security checks fairly quickly only to discover there was absolutely nothing on the other side. Well, okay, nothing is a strong word. There was a bar and a small kiosk but that was about it (it did find my price checking items though, see below). So, what can you do in such a situation? Here are 3 suggestions:
Find your next destination through the selection of available Lonely Planet guidebooks at the small kiosk (the selection actually was pretty decent!)
Look through the magazine offerings and find the one magazine with the weirdest freebie (in my case it was an inflatable sword added to a children’s magazine called “Benjamin Blümchen”)
Flick through your iPod and find the song of the day (I went for “Hellsongs – Symphony of Destruction” although not because of the lyrics or the title, simply because I like the tunes and it’s funny)
On Friday I returned to the airport where I had the initial idea for this blog: London Stansted Airport (IATA: STN). Last time I wasn’t very lucky when my Friday evening flight to Copenhagen was delayed by over an hour and on the way back I went through an even bigger pain (see my very first post).
This time my fate changed for the better. On the way out to Düsseldorf Weeze (IATA: NRN) we were only slightly delayed because of some minor baggage and cargo loading problems. Luckily Ryanair was able to make up the delay and we arrived with the usual punctuality fanfare at the Lower Rhine (Niederrhein) airport.
So I guess, I have to admit that Stansted usually is quite a nice airport. It’s certainly not that close from London (it takes 45 minutes from Liverpool Street station) and it costs a staggering £26 return, but once you are there it’s quite pleasant. The terminal is big and roomy, there are lots of good shops (e.g. Reiss) and plenty of eateries and coffee shops. No wonder is Ryanair eying to purchase this airport once it will be split off from the current owner BAA.
But let’s get to the fun part. This time I decided to play a little game: I wanted to find the best and worst looking, women’s perfume flacon at the large duty free store. Here’s my decision:
Ryanair seems to be interested in taking over London Stansted airport (IATA: STN) according to a news article published in the Daily Telegraph today:
Michael O’Leary is interested in launching a £2bn bid for Stansted airport and proving to BAA and the regulators that he can run it much better than they can.
The current owner, BAA, has recently become under increasing pressure to break up its monopolistic ownership over the three busiest airports in London, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted after continuously failing to improve their performance. However, having Ryanair running an airport would raise other concerns: Would they make travellers pay for every little additional thing as they do with their flights? At least this discussion adds to some movement in the BAA question and that’s always welcomed.
During a press conference in Germany, Ryanair’s Boss Michael O’Leary announced a new long-haul service that would feature “beds and blowjobs” in its business class configuration. Yes, you read correctly. Watch the video to hear it for yourself. Also, pay attention to Anja Reugling’s reaction, Ryanair’s Sales and Marketing Manager for Germany, Austria and Switzerland who was caught in surprise about her bosses statement.
According to the always reliable UK tabloid newspaper Daily Star, Ryanair later confirmed O’Leary’s comments and said, “Beds and Blowjobs” is the working title for their business class service. Sounds more like a marketing trick but if they have the guts to actually launch this “service”, expect long (male) cues in front of the Ryanair gates, overly eager to board the aircraft first 😉
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