And all good things must come to an end, including my near one month stay in Poland (with a few days in the UK in the middle) which has been, as ever, a delight. My Schengen days are though nearly at their maximum, so I couldn’t have remained in the EU for much longer. The journey ended with the 159 bus from Poznan’s main railway station to the airport, a journey that takes around 30 minutes or so.
As an aside, one thing I did notice is how many Ukrainian women there were around the city, it’s noticeable as you can see on screens at ticket machines, ordering machines and the like when they’ve switched the language to Ukrainian. And they’ve been welcomed with such kindness by the Polish, who seem to have coped admirably with a 10% increase in their population. There are lots of places in Poznan where those fleeing their country can get help and support, such a lovely gesture from an entire nation. There’s no shortage of Ukrainian flags flying around the place either, all really rather lovely.
Back at Poznan airport, although I can’t say that I much wanted to leave Poland. They were going to name this airport after Ignacy Jan Paderewski, but then the Polish city of Bydgoszcz did that, so instead it’s named after Henryk Wieniawski, a Polish composer and violinist. British Airways did fly to Poznan in the summer of 2008, which is an idea I think that they should repeat as they don’t have enough Polish cities as destinations. The big three operators here though appear to be Wizz Air, Ryanair and LOT Polish Airlines. It took me precisely one minute to get through security, the Poles have their airports running with great efficiency.
I got to the non-Schengen gate early, but that worked as I got a power supply and a table, so I was sorted for the duration. I was interested to hear the announcement for the Lufthansa flight saying that all passengers must wear masks. This seems unusual as mask wearing in Poland is near zero and I didn’t see anyone in the airport wearing masks, so it felt odd to see an airline still compelling this.
I like having a lot of space to myself. It’s not a great use of resources having this non-Schengen bit of the terminal separated off with border control staff and separate food and drink facilities, but such is politics. I treated myself to a bottle of Fanta which at just over £2.50 was scandalous by Polish prices, but a bargain given the power, free wi-fi and table that were available. Who needs a lounge?
The boarding process humoured me, with a priority and non-priority line that were opened at the same time. As there were far more priority customers than not, I was able to get through and get a seat before most of the priority customers. It’s true they boarded the aircraft slightly earlier than me, but I’d rather have a little sit down than have to stand in a queue for what transpired to be 25 minutes. I had the advantage though of not needing to stow my bag in the overhead lockers, I could get away with dithering.
Firmly at the back of the line, but the random seat Gods had been good to me, I had been given an aisle seat, which is my favourite. All was well with the world. OK, all was well with my flight at least.
Because this is a reminder that all is not well with the world. I’m not sure what the national airline of Ukraine is doing with this aircraft, which had been sent to Spain in February for storage. It returned to Poznan recently and has just flown to Azerbaijan and back, aircraft registration UR-PSF.
The aircraft I was on, G-WUKC, which arrived 70 minutes late, apparently due to ATC difficulties in London. Wizz Air certainly get value for money from their aircraft, this did six sectors during the day, returns to Kaunas, Poznan and Wroclaw. Like much of their fleet, it’s quite a new aircraft, having been used by Wizz Air since it was new in 2018.
Back at Luton airport. There wasn’t much of excitement during the journey, although the aircraft wasn’t as busy as I had thought when boarding, so I switched across the aisle to the other seat so that I had no-one sitting next to me, which meant I had enough space to use my laptop. Ten minutes into the flight the “if there is a medical professional on-board please come to the rear cabin” with a lady getting up and rushing to the back, so I assume she was medically qualified, or just wanted to see what was happening I suppose. I didn’t hear anything more and we didn’t divert, so it couldn’t have been too dramatic. Or, at least, I hope it wasn’t.
The crew were friendly enough, mostly male which is a little unusual for budget airlines. One passenger seemed scared of the barking sound in the aircraft, which is the power transfer unit (I learned that long ago from British Airways) and called one of the crew over to express his concerns. The crew member said “oh, that’s usual, it’s probably the brakes” and wandered off which actually didn’t calm the passenger who didn’t seem to like the “probably” bit of the answer.
The disembarkation process was as chaotic as ever, people rushing to the aisle, trampling on each other and then standing there for ten minutes. A case fell on someone’s head, someone stood on someone’s foot and tensions were rising. The guy in the window seat on my row just kept reading his book, I sat and stared at my phone (I do that a lot) and didn’t move, it’s much less stressful. I find it all odd, as then the same people very often walk slowly to the terminal, so I can overtake them. It took probably eight minutes to get through border control, nothing too bad.
I then had a forty minute to the hotel that I was staying in at Luton, walking past this bastion of journalism. Well, something like that anyway….
It’s been delayed a couple of times, but they’re getting there with this, which is Luton DART. It’ll connect Luton Airport Parkway railway station with the airport, which will involve scrapping the shuttle bus arrangement that currently exists. I’ll probably just still walk between the two rather than pay for this, but it’s a more efficient solution for those who can’t or don’t want to walk the fifteen minutes between the two.
Luton Hoo Memorial Park, which was presented to the town in 1920 by Lady Ludlow, in honour of her son, Alex Piggott Werner, who had died during the First World War.
Bailey Hill Water Tower in the background.
And the park’s war memorial. It’s a really nice space, there’s a playground for children that was well used, with a few people walking dogs, all very calm and sedate.
The final destination was the Linton Hotel, which was cheaper than all of the other chain hotels that I had to walk by to get here. I went for the cheapest compact room, which was indeed compact, but it was clean and functional and everything worked as it should. I was exhausted when I got here as it’s too bloody hot in Luton, certainly compared to Poland at the moment, and I had to climb a hill which was higher than the little diddy ones that Dave Morgan is currently climbing in mainland Europe. I was very brave, but also quite tired at the end of that, but I don’t complain.