Sir, do you know how to operate an emergency exit?

On Wednesday I blasted off runway 14 at EGNM headed for EIDW (Dublin International).  I was heading to Ireland just for the day with my sister.  We couldn’t pass the opportunity by at £16 return.  I was able to meet up with some good friends and visit one of my favourite restaurants.  As you can see the weather was overcast in Leeds, it was the same in Dublin.  It took the Ryanair 737-800 about twenty minutes to get on top of all the cloud and haze – we reached 24000ft and about 400mph, stayed there for a few minutes and then started the decent.  The flight is barely forty minutes.  When we did finally get to those clear skies, it was fantastic.  Not far above us there was a magnificent layer of cirrus clouds, it looked wafer thin from where we were.

I could really get used to seeing views like this on a daily basis.  Even though I had flown in December I’d forgotten just how thrilling takeoff was.  We lined up on the runway and moments later you could hear the engines spool up, stabilize, and then roar into takeoff thrust.  The acceleration was phenomenal, seconds later the ground was getting further and further away.  I enjoyed pointing out all the places I could recognise from the air and made the most of it as we would be arriving back in the hours of darkness.

My favourite place to eat in Dublin is Eddie Rocket’s – an American style diner.  There are a few in Dublin, Galway and Cork and even a couple in the UK.  I had the ‘cheese please’ burger with a chocolate malt and it was well worth the wait, the quality was fabulous.  I could have really done with a nap afterwards but there are few places to sleep at the Dundrum Shopping Centre.

While we waited for a friend to get out of work we just browsed the shops.  I found a stunning new tie in M&S – it’s most colourful.  It was getting colder by the minute on the outside so we were staying put.  My good friend finally got out of work and we went up to the tram station to meet her.  If you know much about court reporting you’ll know how much she has on her plate.  I was grateful she took the time out to visit with us.  Being absolutely frozen and having a liking for fine hot chocolate, we went to Butlers Chocolate Cafe for the best hot chocolate money can buy.  I love it when they serve it at drinking temperature, it’s too good to wait for it to cool down if it’s not.  It was so good to chat and catch up about the events of the past nine months.  As it usually does after a reunion with a friend or family member, the time in between seemed to disappear and it feels like you were never apart.

All good (and bad) things come to an end.  In what seemed like a few minutes (it was over an hour) we were back on the tram heading to O’Connell street to pick up the 747 express to the airport.  The journey back was as swift as ever – sailed through security without delay, a quick look at the shops and a short wait at the gate.

When we boarded we were fortunate enough to get an emergency exit seat over the right wing.  The leg room was excellent.  I forgot that you can’t put your hand luggage under the seat in front of you at emergency exits and the flight attendant promptly reminded me of this.  She then went round each of the eight or so passengers at the emergency exits and specifically asked them if they would be willing to assist in the event of an emergency – a legal requirement.

She asked a man in front if he knew how to operate an emergency exit and he told her that he did.  She wasn’t convinced and said: “Are you sure you know how to operate the exit?”  He was a little annoyed at this and informed her that he was a frequent flyer and that he was sure he could manage the emergency exit.  I was quickly trying to think of what to say incase she asked me if I was sure if I knew how to operate the exit.  The only thing I could think of was a little cheeky – ‘I know how to read and follow instructions.’  She does have somewhat of a point though, you could read all the instructions and look at all the diagrams you want and still have no experience of opening aircraft emergency exits.  I’m sure no-one wants experience in this regard.

The flight home was very much the same as the one out, only darker.  I love it when they turn off the cabin lights, the view is so much better.  I’d have them out the whole flight if I could.  Even though it was dark, on approach to runway 14 we flew down the gorgeous Wharfe Valley we could pick out landmarks such as the Cow & Calf and the park in Menston village.  All in all it was a fantastic trip.  Number one highlight being catching up with my friends accompanied by my sister, number two being the flying – then the food etc…