After my rather disappointing stay at the ibis Munich airport (MUC) I took a early morning flight with airBaltics newest plane, a Bombardier CS300, which according to the captain had its second day of service on this flight BT222 to Riga international airport (RIX).
The flight was roughly 70 minutes delayed on arrival due to very dense fog at MUC, ground crew gave unfortunately little information about that so I just had to wait at the gate until the plane made its way down through the clouds.
Prior to the waiting time at the gate I had a smooth check-in and a very quick security check. Both check in and baggage drop as well as security took a combined 20 minutes or so. I booked this flight through AirBerlin which allowed me to book a multi city flight (that is not possible directly with airBaltic) and it also enabled me to collect Etihad guest miles for this flight. Apparently both AirBerlin and Etihad have a code share agreement with airBaltic so you can book the flights through those to carriers as well, quite nice for an LCC.
Booking through those two carriers you will also receive one free luggage, free seat pick and priority service (luggage delivery and boarding) as AirBerlin tickets are economy premium on airBaltic. Due to the delay at MUC the gate agents did not honour priority boarding and my luggage was not delivered with priority as well.
The ticket does however not include any drinks or food, typically for LCC. Having been guest aboard countless European airlines and multiple LCCs I know pretty good what to expect from airBaltic and I got more or less exactly that.
I checked in online with the carrier directly and picked my seat 3A, apparently the seat map is still a bit off for this plane since I ended up finding row 3 to be business class. I had to notice that airBaltic unfortunately missed the chance to introduce any real business class and as most airlines in Europe simply sells economy seats with a blocked middle seat.
AirBaltic has the CS300 in a 2-3 configuration and the seats are obviously new and clean so far, with a decent width and reclining space. Legroom was quite good as well compared to other intra-Europe configurations.
Every row had two super tiny IFE screens mounted below the overhead compartments that were used to screen security video and connecting gates during the flight.
Unfortunately due to the weather conditions and congestions at MUC airport it took quite a while until we pushed back and taxied to the runway, we took-off around 100 minutes behind schedule.
The inflight service was typical LCC style, featuring a decent onboard selection of drinks, food and duty free items to buy. I am not sure if you can pre-order meals with airBaltic, booking with AirBerlin definitely does not have this option.
The flight was pretty smooth even though the weather was bad and low clouds all the way from MUC to RIX which made the approach a bit bumpy. One thing that I thought was funny during the flight was the captain making an announcement about how significantly bigger and nicer the cabin is compared to airBaltics other planes. While I agree it is a nice and new plane with cool moodlighting etc. I do not at all think it is big or more comfortable than other intra Europe configurations so I wonder how the other airBaltic planes look like…
Despite the weather conditions the landing at RIX was mostly smooth even though we came in pretty fast. On our way taxing to the gate I saw some parked planes, mostly airBaltic and other Eastern European airlines like wizzAir. The terminal at Riga international seems to be rather modern and made a good impression on me, only the baggage reclaim area looked quite rundown and abandoned as there was nothing besides the belts and a few tiny counters for lost luggage.
The flight from Munich to Riga with airBaltic was pretty uneventful, I somewhat enjoyed the new plane as it was a nice surprise given that I did not expect any “special” things to happen on this flight BT222.
I also have to note that the crew was extremely cold and I did never see any of them smile, while the female flight attendants were not specifically unfriendly there was one male flight attendant who was just outright rude. When I went to the lavatories he sent me away to serve the captain first, now if the cockpit door is open I understand for security reasons you can not allow passengers in the galley, but sending away paying passengers to start serving the cockpit does not feel right in a service based industry as aviation. Also he kept the cockpit door open throughout the whole order – prepare – serve process which I have never seen in any airline before, so I had to wait roughly 5 minutes in front of the curtain to the forward galley. Besides that when I was finally allowed to use the restrooms he stood in my way and made me go around him both times (entering and leaving) which is just unprofessional and not nice in a small aircraft and yes, he had no apparent reason to stand where he was. As well during the delay and before take-off he was eating right in front of all passengers which I find unprofessional as well, there are enough places where you can eat without pax seeing you. Showcasing that you can eat when everyone else has waited for hours is just rude. I don’t know if the crews on airBaltic are in general rather cold but this guy should definitely not work anywhere where he is in contact with customers.
Given that the ticket came at a cost of roughly EUR310 (including my upcoming return trip to Berlin) I find the value for money rather underwhelming, but that goes with most flights in Europe and at least I am able to collect solid Etihad guest miles for this flight. Besides that airBaltic delivered what you can expect: a rather uneventful flight with nothing to write home about.