On Tuesday we were fortunate enough to review business class on the airBaltic Boeing 737-300 from London Gatwick to Riga. After a fascinating trip to visit the Latvian flag carrier, it was time to head home. However, this time we were flying on an Airbus A220-300.
As Riga Airport is the home of airBaltic, they have a dedicated check-in zone. There looked to be a long queue for the regular check-in, so I joined the business check-in line. After maybe 5-10 minutes of waiting, it was my turn. The single check-in agent dealing with business class did not seem to be checking passenger eligibility for the shorter line. I was given a priority tag on my luggage, however, this had zero effect on the speed with which I got my bag at Gatwick Airport.
Security and Lounge
Business-class passengers are entitled to use both the fast track security lane and the lounge at Riga Airport. There was no real queue for security and I practically walked straight through.
Following the pleasant security experience, I decided to head to the lounge used by airBaltic to catch up on work. The food and drinks selection in the lounge wasn’t great, however, the ambience was super. The lounge had plenty of natural light, in addition to a quiet feel. Additionally, it had the best view overlooking the runway.
Boarding of the aircraft was fairly disorganized. The gate agent announced our flight was boarding business class passengers. A whole host of people jumped up, and many economy passengers boarded the aircraft before me, as they didn’t seem to check people’s class. Once inside the aircraft, I sorted my stuff out and took my seat…
airBaltic’s Airbus A220-300 aircraft have a 2-3 layout of five abreast. The first three rows are business class in a 1-2 configuration. I had chosen seat 2A, the front-most seat on the left-hand side. My seat was the window seat, and the aisle seat had a huge table on it which I made the most of during the flight. The aisle seat additionally had “Do Not Occupy This Seat” stitched into it.
Due to its unique bulkhead position, seat 2A has good views from three windows. Additionally, given the large size of the windows, I truly felt I could see everything outside. If anything, it was almost slightly scary seeing so much outside. Legroom for the seat was better than on the 737-300.
However, due to the bulkhead, I had a fold-out table in my armrest. This was flimsy and small. I didn’t feel entirely comfortable balancing my laptop on there, or my tray of food for that matter. I tended to use the table on the seat next to me for this reason.
Upon boarding the aircraft I was offered a choice of orange juice or water. This was followed shortly after takeoff by a hot towel while meals were prepared. There are no meal choices in business class on airBaltic. As such you eat what you are given, or don’t eat. This was, I believe, the only major downfall of the airline’s business class product. It would be nice to have a choice.
The only option was a beef salad with fish and rice. I ate everything apart from dessert which contained almonds. While the salad was okay, the fish had no real taste, nor did the rice. Nevertheless, I wolfed down the meal, before relaxing for the remainder of the flight.
I was brought a coffee, which was slightly strong but nice. While the crew didn’t seem as proactively attentive on this flight as on the Boeing 737, this didn’t bother me as they were still there if needed, and happy to help with anything.
The aircraft contained small screens above passenger’s heads. These were great, as they showed a well put together safety briefing and a live moving map. However, they also had several annoying adverts for products that could be purchased in the economy cabin.
Overall, the Airbus A220 flight was slightly better than the Boeing 737 flight. It operated on time, and the aircraft was much, much nicer. However, on this occasion, the food wasn’t quite as good. I believe that, had the food been better, this would have been a super flight all in all. As such, I would love to be able to fly on the Airbus A220 again soon!
Simple Flying traveled to Riga as a guest of airBaltic.
Have you flown in business class on the Airbus A220? How did you find it? Let us know in the comments!