â€œ IATA: NOC Â– ICAO: EIKN. An international airport located south-west of Charlestown, County Mayo, Ireland. â€ž
I recently won a competition for a weekend break in Ireland, my flights were booked with BMI Baby and I was advised that the airport we would be flying into was Ireland West Airport Knock. I had never heard of this airport before, but I recieved some communication from the Marketing Manager at the airport providing me with some information on the facilities available and supplying me with some local information regarding taxi companies, restaurants and attractions that were in the area. I also had a look at their website which was a nice bright and clearly displayed site, so I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect when I arrived.
I was however, quite surprised when I arrived. I have never seen such a small airport. As we landed on the runway, I was looking around for the terminal building and couldnt quite believe the size of it when I spotted it. Having become quite accustomed to larger airports such as Manchester, Heathrow and JFK, this tiny airport was quite a novelty.
There are currently only a small number of airlines which fly to this airport which include BMI Baby, Ryanair, and Aer Arran and the airport on average only has around 4-10 flight arriving and departing on a daily basis. There is enough room outside the terminal for two planes to park, but even this was a squeeze and when watching the planes trying to turn around to leave I was sure they were going to either hit each other or the terminal building the area was that small. I also found it quite funny that the airport is only open 7:30am til 7:30pm as I have never known an airport with opening hours!
Once we had landed we were very surprised by how quickly we were able to disembark the plane, Usually there is a bit of wait whilst you wait for the tunnel to attach, but being a small airport you just used stairs to exit the plane and they had these by the side of the plane. The staff at the foot of the stairs were very friendly and gave us a warm and happy welcome to Ireland. As we walked into the building, we noticed that Passport Control, customs, and the baggage carousel were all in one room, which again we found a bit of a novelty. The passport control was just two people sat in a booth who again were really happy in friendly and it gave a really nice welcoming atmosphere for us. As we walked over to the luggage carousel we could see the person on the other side loading them onto the conveyer belt, and it was nice to actually see them being loaded carefully onto the belt as opposed to how they are probably thrown on, in the larger airports.
As we exited the luggage area we were met by the Marketing Manager who directed us to our taxi driver and again welcomed us to Ireland. She was really friendly and enthusiastic just like all the other staff we had met so far and we felt so welcome it was fantastic. I have never been to an airport which was so friendly.
As we left, we noticed that there was a small cafe and shop which had a few seats in there for customers. They also had some deals on such as a pie and a pint for Euro4.95 which I thought was quite reasonable for the size of the pies!
Our taxi driver took our cases and led us outside to the taxi waiting area where there is probably enough room for a bout three vehicles. He too was very friendly and off we set to our hotel. ( I will be writing a separate review about this). There was also a car hire company located outside.
We next returned to the airport two days later for our return flight home. The check in queue was very small when we arrived and we noticed in total that there are approximately only 10 check in desks altogether. BMI Baby opened two of them and they seemed to get through any queue quite quickly. We were advised that there was a 1 hour delay for our flight due to the xray machines breaking at Manchester Airport and this had therefore had a knock on effect with the flights. They were very apologetic though even though it wasnt there fault and they told us where we could find the larger restaurant which was located upstairs. We were advised to go up there instead of the departure lounge as it was more spacious and there were more refreshments on offer so this we did.
The restaurant was very large and occupied half of the upstairs floor. There were large windows located all the way around which overlooked the runway, though in fairness there wasnt really much to see as there were only four flights on that day. The food looked delicious and again the prices seemed very reasonable. We didn't actually purchase anything but having looked at the prices and the portion sizes that other people were walking away with it looked very good value for money. There was plenty of seating and tables and they also offer free wifi throughout the airport, so we were quite happy with a drink and the internet for an hour or so until my battery ran out.
We then decided to make our way to the departure lounge. There was quite a large queue to get in here. This was due to the fact that you have to pay a Euro10 Development Fee when leaving which alot of people in the queue seemed unaware of despite there being numerous signs throughout the airport and everyone being told this when they checked in. Therefore there were delays whilst these people were seen to, which seemed to be about 50% of the queue. Then you go through security which is a quick and easy process and then exit into the shop which is attached to the departure lounge. Quite cleverly done I think as you have no option but to walk through the shop to get to the lounge.
The shop itself does actually stock some very nice items. I didnt purchase anything but had a good nosey around and was quite impressed by some of the things they had on offer. Some of it was the usually rubbish that these kind of shops tend to sell, but they also sold some good quality products. This and a bar area was the only thing in the departure lounge which also seemed very small and crowded so I was appreciative of the earlier advice to sit upstairs first. We were regularly given updates about the status of our flight and we had around a 45 minute wait in here prior to our plane arriving.
The announcements were clear and regular and we were informed that we would be boarding within ten minutes of the plane arriving which is obviously a very quick turnaround time. The staff worked through the queue quickly and we were directed alongside the runway to our plane. I was expecting it to be a bit dirty given how quickly we were boarding but I noticed the airport staff helping on the plane which I thought was really nice of them.
Overall, we recieved exceptional and friendly customer service throughout our time at the airport. I have never been to an airport where the staff have been so friendly, happy and enthusiastic. They all seemed to really enjoy their jobs which made our trip all the more enjoyable.
We have already looked at returning here in the future. There is some beautiful accomodation nearby and being only an hour flight from the UK it is the ideal destination for a weekend away.