Dublin to Donegal is one of the two domestic routes in Ireland, usually operated under Government subsidy. Stobart Air, who operated the Aer Lingus Regional services as a franchise, went bankrupt leaving no airlines operating the routes.
Amapola Flyg won the right to fly the Donegal route, with their weapon of choice being the Fokker 50. These are rare turboprops these days and the Swedish operator is one of a handful of airlines still using the aircraft. That meant I absolutely had to get a flight on one!
Check-in at Dublin Airport is at Area 14 in Terminal 1, which may as well be Area 51 as it’s so hidden. In fact, it is in the basement under all the other desks and once upon a time was home to Aer Lingus.
Once there, my friends and I checked in. We asked how many were on the flight and were advised 16. Our boarding passes all had “FREE” printed where the seat numbers usually go, and the bored agent advised us it was free seating on board.
McDonald’s And Security
We decided to hit McDonald’s for some nuggets and wraps, before heading through security. Since we had take-away, we put our dips into a clear plastic bag and the meal went through screening with no issues.
The flight was due to depart at 15:40 and the boarding passes rather optimistically had 14:55 printed on them as the boarding time. Naturally when we arrived at the 200 gates, all was quiet so we ate our lunch.
Boarding The Fokker 50
Once boarding was announced, we walked out to our steed for this afternoon. The plane looked pristine, and so it was up the stairs and into the cabin we went.
Upon entering the cabin, the friendly Swedish flight attendant advised us to sit anywhere, as long as it was row five or back. Presumably for balance reasons!
HP333 – Dublin to Donegal (DUB-CFN)
19 September 2021
Fokker 50 – SE-MFY
Seat: Economy 5B
Departure: 15:40 Arrival: 16:25
Once on board, I marvelled at the small overhead bins and put my messenger bag up in one above the row ahead of me. The lockers in the centre of the cabin are smaller due to the wing spar and are marked “Wardrobe” as they would really only fit coats and jackets. With such a light load, boarding was finished quite promptly.
Amapola Flyg’s Fokker 50 Cabin
The aircraft is well turned out, with four abreast seating for fifty passengers. While everything is quite beige, it’s not actually that bad as the white head rests alleviate that a bit.
Interestingly the Fokker 50 flight deck is raised above the passenger floor. Pilots go up to sit in their little room, which I had no idea about. It must afford them a great view!
With just one cabin crew member, I was curious about the safety demonstration. The flight attendant does the entire verbal spiel first, with all the usual details you would expect.
Once that bit is done, she stood in the aisle, doing the seatbelt demonstration, the lifejacket demonstration and so on in complete silence. It’s certainly different, but still effective.
Flying Dublin to Donegal
The left engine started, then the right and we pushed back and taxied out to the active runway. Power was poured on and we took to the sky. Landing gear swiftly retracted beside our windows and the power throttled back as we set course for Donegal. An announcement came telling us the location of the toilet and to keep our seat belts fastened while seated. I visited the flight attendant and asked if we might see the cockpit after landing to which she agreed to check.
Joyously, the toilet was old school with no vacuum pump. I have previously experienced the blue loo style wet flush in business class on a Royal Jordanian Airbus A310. Why was there no water? Who knows, almost nobody visited the toilet during flight. There is no inflight service at all, and soon enough we were landing in Donegal, enjoying the world’s most scenic approach. Once on the ground, we chatted to the very friendly pilots and flight attendant a bit before deplaning into Donegal Airport.
You’d never tell this particular Amapola Flyg Fokker 50 was manufactured in 1987, which is almost 34 years ago. The aircraft is kept in immaculate condition by the Swedish outfit and it is a delight to fly on board.
Cabin noise is minimal and it feels very solid and smooth in the air. Certainly one of the more pleasant turboprop experiences I have had, and I think I like it better than both the Dash-8 and the ATR-42. It is also far quieter inside, something much appreciated.
Have you been on board a Fokker 50? Are you taking or have you taken the Dublin to Donegal flight? What did you think? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.