First impressions I left my hire car at the rental drop-off directly outside Terminal 2 at Tampere Airport at 2000 for my 2220 flight to London Stansted. The tiny terminal, which was once the only one at Tampere, is used exclusively by Ryanair, which also flies from here to Frankfurt-Hahn and Riga. The more modern Terminal 1 is used by Finnair, SAS and Blue 1, the low-cost offshoot of SAS. Ryanair began flights to Tampere in October 2003, opening up an interesting part of Finland to budget flights.
Check-in for my flight opened at 2010. The attendant was friendly, but the security check was via a cramped walkway and there was a wait to pass through it. I was requested to take my laptop out of my hand luggage and it was sent through the scanners separately.
Once through, I found a tiny shop selling magazines, perfumes and confectionery (but no alcohol or cigarettes) and an upstairs café/bar serving toasted sandwiches, coffee and beer. A toasted sandwich and coffee came to £5.88. The café is equipped with a couple of internet terminals, and wifi access is available for £2.77 for an hour; credit card details are required. However, overall this "Ryanair terminal" was cramped, with a small baggage carousel for arriving passengers, which consisted of a 30ft conveyor belt that ended in 10ft of metal rollers, causing bags to quickly pile into a heap.
Boarding Passengers were asked to board according to boarding card numbers (1-90 first followed by 91-189). Two disorderly queues formed and there was not enough space for people to move past each other in the tiny terminal ground floor. We boarded at 2225. The plane filled quickly and we departed at 2233, 13 minutes late.
The seat The flight was crowded. Without a middle seat free, there was little room to spread out. There were no seat pockets and little room in the overhead locker, which was crammed full of backpacks. A woman a few seats ahead opened a locker during the flight and a pair of crutches fell onto passengers below. I bought a cup of PG Tips tea for £1.80. The head steward advised us the flight should take 2 hours, 45 minutes, but it was a little difficult to understand since he spoke with a heavy accent.
Arrival We arrived at 2310 and boarded buses to the terminal. There was an enormous crowd waiting to pass through immigration. Bags had still not arrived when we reached the carousel. Luckily, I just made the final Stansted Express of the day, two minutes before its 2359 departure.
Verdict The flights ran on time; however, the schedule means you arrive back at a late hour, making travel into London difficult and potentially expensive if cabs are required.
Price Ryanair (ryanair.com) has return fares from £36.