Ewan McDonald flies BE688 from Scotland to Northern Ireland.

The plane?

Embraer 175, pride of the Brazilian aeronautical engineering industry.

Class? There's only one.

Price: $145.37 (see Luggage).


On time? To the minute ... almost. Due 16:20, landed 16:22.

My seat? 4B - window.

Fellow passengers: Young people on their hungover way home from hen and stag parties in the Big Smoke; older folk coming back from seeing the grandkids in Edinburgh.

How full? One empty seat among the 80, and it's right next to me.

Entertainment? One's own. It's a 50-minute flight.

The service? Budget airline cool. Okay, frosty.

Food and drink? Crisps, chocolate bars, sweeties and drinkies from the trolley.

Toilets? Dunno. Fifty-minute flight rule applies.


Luggage? Price includes 20kg checked bag; 10kg carry-on only is several quid cheaper.

The airport experience? Edinburgh is about the same size and possibly the only airport to challenge the unmatched charmlessness of Auckland domestic. The food offerings are equally tasteless and expensive. But it has duty-free shopping - probably 7523 varieties of whisky as well as watches, perfume, souvenir-store kitsch. And the departure announcements are far more exotic: the delights of uptown Prague rather than the pleasures of downtown Picton; a dalliance in Dalaman rather than a dirty weekend in Wellington.

Would I fly this again? If I ever go across the sea to Ireland.

NB: Belfast has two airports - George Best Airport is almost downtown and generally services UK flights; the international airport, 21km north of the city, handles European and some UK flights.

Ewan McDonald travelled to Europe with VisitScotland, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Emirates.