Flight Review: airBaltic A220 economy class
Flight #: BT402
From: Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO)
To: Riga (RIX)
Flight time: 1h 45min approx.
Aircraft: Airbus A220
This was not my first flight on an airBaltic A220 aircraft, but it was the first I did as a “regular passenger”.
In December 2016 I had the chance to welcome in Riga the very first aircraft of this type to enter commercial service. What was then called Bombardier CS300 was greeted with great fanfare and a party that was even attended by Latvia’s Prime Minister.
The next day, a group of airBaltic staff and media boarded the shiny new CS300 (now A220) for an hour-long inaugural overflight of the country of Latvia (you can also see here the flight report and video of that A220 flight that, back at the time I did, for AirInsight).
As you might imagine this was not really the regular passenger experience.
This time, though I could taste the real thing and write the corresponding flight review of the airBaltic A220 experience.
An aircraft worth showcasing
It may be anecdotal, but one of the things that caught my eye when checking airBaltic’s website is the way they brand their A220s as a plus when choosing an aircraft.
This is certainly a pull for me (although the experience on the other airBaltic old workhorse, the Boeing 737-500 is not bad at all!), but does this mean that there is a real preference for the aircraft even among the non initiated? (I must say I got a couple of comments from people I know that flew the type with another of its operators, Swiss, and where positively surprised by the experience but asked me what was “that new plane” they had not heard about before)
In any case, I guess adding more content-rich information to airline bookings is right on trend.
airBaltic offers a proper business class, although, at least on the A220 it seem to be basically the same seat as in economy (as you can see in the booking snapshot above, it includes quite a few more extras than the two economy class fares available.
In this particular aircraft there were two rows of business class seats on one side and just one (photo) on the other side (in fact, a single seat, since the seat next to is not used), with plenty of legroom.
And here are the economy class seats.
As expected from such a new airplane, the aesthetics are modern and functional. The grey tones give it an elegant touch. The cabin really still smell of new.
A couple of details of the cabin: the small monitor screens overhead every few rows. Not a substitute for proper IFE, but it is nice to be able to check the moving map every now and then (mainly between the many commercials)
The seat has one rigid pocket on the upper part and two small pouches on the lower part, just large enough to hold an iPhone or a passport (to name just two of the items that many passengers carry with them at all times).
At 32” the seat pitch on airBaltic’s A220 is quite good and comparable to economy class on European full service airlines.
Most airBaltic’s flights are relatively short, though and when it comes to overall comfort it offers quite a compelling proposition. The longest airBaltic flight is the Riga-Abu Dhabi operated in code-share with Etihad, although at the press conference following the first A220 (CS300) delivery, CEO Martin Gauss hinted that with the range provided by this new aircraft airBaltic may consider expanding into other far flung markets.
Food and drinks are not included, of course.
It looked rather tasty, although the mid-morning flight was short enough and also close enough to my expected lunch on land that I skipped it.
And finally, a curiosity from airBaltic’s inflight magazine (which was quite good), an old-fashioned analogic flight schedules table. A nice complement to the traditional route map that I am sure aviation enthusiasts appreciate…
One final surprise at Riga airport when boarding my second flight of that day: airBaltic’s A220 with the special livery celebrating 100 years of Latvian independence. Surely one of the most colourful A220 liveries out there!
Be prepared to pay for the extras, but the base experience is quite good. Comfortable plane and a nice touch that they let you know when booking!