Getting from Belfast to Estonia is fairly inexpensive, but also involves travelling at rather anti-social times. Easyjet fly from Stansted, which would be a straightforward change were it not for the 6am departure time. This isn’t too bad when you know someone who lives close to the airport and is willing to get up an an unearthly hour to drive you there. Otherwise the overnight in a hotel will easily cancel out the ludicrously low fares.

Alternatively, you can do as I did this time, and fly Estonian Air from Dublin. This is a direct flight, but has an even more troubling departure time of 1:30am. Nothing on my ticket told me what time I needed to check-in by, but as boarding was listed for 12:45, I guessed that the desk would probably close around then. So leaving Belfast at about 10pm should give plenty of time.

The plan itself was fine, but the execution left a little to be desired.

The main problem was my complete state of unreadiness. I didn’t leave myself anywhere near enough time to clear out my apartment. When my mother arrived to pick me up at 9:30 I still hadn’t finished even boxing up all the files that would need to go back to the office, never mind actually packing my case! We loaded as much as we could into two cars to take to the office, and I threw what I could randomly into my case, and then some more into a second case on the basis that it was less hassle to pay the excess than to miss my flight by spending too long packing properly.

Unfortunately I took just too long doing this, ensuring that we were too late to get through the main gates to the harbour estate (which are closed at 10pm), and had to drive the long way around to the office. Eventually we got away at about 10:45. Being on time was now looking a lot tighter!

As I had had to leave far too many things un-sorted in my apartment, I spent most of the start of the journey texting various people trying to arrange with them to come pick up things that I had promised them, but ran out of time to actually deliver. As such I wasn’t able to pay much attention to the roads, and was shocked to discover at one point that we were fast approaching Dungannon, having missed the turn at Lisburn and continued merrily down the M1.

At this point I was sure I was going to miss my flight.

Thankfully we managed to get back across country to Newry via Armagh and on to the (Southern) M1 at Dundalk in a fairly decent time. I scrambled into the airport at 12:55 and dashed to the check-in desk. Thankfully they were still open, although they’d already shut down the luggage conveyor, so I figured I was just in time. Each of my suitcases was heavier than the total luggage allowance so I was braced for a hefty excess baggage charge, but I was let off with merely a warning that I would certainly be charged on my return.

Of course, in packing everything so quickly, I hadn’t had time to consider what I could and couldn’t take in my hand-luggage. So I had an interesting 10 minutes whilst the security staff went through my bag removing far too many things that I wasn’t allowed. (I still have no idea how the fork got there though!)

When I got to the gate I discovered the flight had been delayed, which I suspect had some bearing on my being able to check in so late. Although we seemed to take off almost an hour late, we still managed to arrive only about 15 minutes after the scheduled arrival time, and the driver was waiting patiently outside to bring me to my apartment (The free airport pickup is a really nice bonus when renting from RED Group!)

The airport dash

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