All aboard: First flight to Ireland from Bradley takes off

DUBLIN - For the first time in nearly a decade, Bradley International Airport is offering a trans-Atlantic flight. Aer Lingus launched their direct flight to Dublin, Ireland on Wednesday, September 28, and FOX 61's Jim Altman was one of the first to take advantage!

"Think of it as a super-sized Daytrippers," Jim said about this series on Ireland.

"There is a lot of excitement surrounding this inaugural flight coming into the airport as well as our first flight out to Dublin.  This flight really elevates the stature of Bradley Airport and certainly the region.  Our businesses in this region have been asking for this global connectivity and we feel this flight will deliver it," said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority.

Several passengers agreed. Some were first time travelers to Ireland. Others were returning to their homeland with less travel required.

Just before boarding the flight,  Tony Sheridan, who lives in Waterford but is from Ireland, said, "It's a great day for Hartford, a great day for Connecticut."

"It's really special for most residents who travel to Europe from Connecticut, a trip to Boston or New York was really difficult," Sheriden noted.

Though some may think there would be a surcharge to fly to Europe from Bradley versus John F. Kennedy Airport on New York or Logan Airport in Boston, Aer Lingus officials say that is not the case. So you get the cost and the convenience!

The flight will run seven days a week until November 1. It will then run on a reduced schedule of four days a week until late March or early April, when it will return to running every day.

Another benefit? Aer Lingus said they are including “customs clearing” in Dublin, which means travelers will have cleared customs while still in Ireland and that on the return flight to Connecticut they will essentially be traveling back as domestic fliers. Just grab your bags and hop in your car!

"Bradley and Hartford is new and exciting for all of us," said Jack Foley, an Aer Lingus vice president. "Hartford brings a whole different experience, it brings the opportunity to connect an area -- Connecticut and Springfield -- to Europe."

Connecticut officials view this flight as a potential boost to economic development by making international travel directly to and from Connecticut easier. Aer Lingus officials are calling this direct flight a “gateway to Europe” as there are 28 connecting destinations from Dublin, including Amsterdam, London, Barcelona, Madrid, and Paris.

"It's going to be a gateway," said Beverly Skinnon, from Southington, who was excited to be taking the inaugural flight. "It's going to open a lot of doors for a lot of people."

This is the second attempt by Bradley at a trans-Atlantic flight in the last decade. In 2007, Northwest Airlines launched a direct flight to Amsterdam, but cancelled it about a year later. The airline merged with Delta at that time and pointed to high fuel costs and a poor economy for the low ridership.