Air Baltic is the flag carrier of Latvia with its head office on the grounds of Riga International Airport. Its hub is Riga, with further bases in Tallin Airport and Vilnius Airport. The airline was established as a joint venture between Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) and the Government of Latvia. In January 2009, SAS sold its entire stake in the company.
Air Baltic operates 12 Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft with 76 seats, 4 Boeing 737-300 aircraft with 142 seats and 22 newer Airbus A220 aircraft with 145 seats.
I took a morning flight from Zurich to Riga and checked-in online. As gate seat changes cost extra (12 Euro) I waited to board last and then took an emergency exit seat which offered a fantastic legroom. The aircraftwas a 20 year old Boeing 737-300 and Air Baltic offers BOB (buy on board) menu offering food and drinks for purchase.
The crew conducted a manual safety demo and a special “overwing” exit briefing which I found to be very professional.
Most passengers did not buy anything from the options so the flight was very relaxed.
Air Baltic offers low fares and I found the service in a good price/performance ratio representing good value for money.
They will start nonstop flights between Zurich and Vilnius and Tallin this Spring (2020) and I hope I can soon try the newer A220.
Air Dolomiti is a 100% owned subsidiary of Lufthansa with its base in Munich, Germany. The airline’s name derives from a section of the Alps known as the Dolomites. It started operations in January 1991 and mostly operates flights between Munich and Italy as well as some other destinations which allow operations with Embraer aircrafts.
I flew from Zurich to Munich and I found the aircraft appearance to be clean and comfortable. However the seating was on the narrower side. The configuration is 2-2 where in Business Class always 1 seat per seat-pair will be kept unoccupied for privacy reasons. This procedure is well known by carriers such as Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian.
Service consisted of a pre-departure bottle of water, a refreshing towel and a pack of sweets. During the flight a cold tray was served with a full range of beverages including coffee and tea. The flight was half empty and I expected a friendly service, but the crew seemed to be annoyed working and made a rather depressed impression. What I really liked is that there was free wifi available on board. This is a nice feature, even though most of their flights are an hour or less flight time.
The Flight operated on time and arrived in Munich at an outside tarmac position. There was no separate bus for Business Class passengers available. I took Air Dolomiti on the same route back to Zurich, it was a similar experience.
I flew Alaska Airlines First Class from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and Las Vegas to San Francisco. Both flights were on aircraft of the former Virgin America Airlines which was taken over by Alaska last year (2018).
Check-in at Terminal 6 was a breeze and Alaska sports a nice small premium-lounge which offers a bar, a few breakfast items (including their own branded pancake making machine). The lounge was very busy this early morning but offered plenty of seating, a nice tarmac view and super-clean rest rooms.
Both flights were very short so the food and beverage offering was limited. The was a pre-departure drink, a drink inflight and a snack basket. Flight Attendants were professional and charming and made it a pleasant experience. Early booking rates for First Class are very competitive, and were only US$ 40 more than tickets in the main cabin. (Bear in mind that you have to pay extra for each check-in bag on US-domestic flights). The flights departed on time and Alaska Airlines has a 20min baggage delivery promise.
I really liked the fact that First Class had only 2 rows and really comfortable recliner seats which makes even a short flight very comfy.
I flew on an Edelweiss Airbus 330 with a configuration of 27 Business Class and 298 Economy Class seats.
There was a long check-in queue line for Economy Class passengers at Havana Airport but the Business Class counter was free and check-in was a breeze (There were only 11 Pax booked in C-class)
The Edelweiss Airbus 330 features the same Business Class seats as offered by SWISS/Austrian with a full flat sleeping option and the same layout as well.
I found the Edelweiss in-flight service very pleasant. There was a pre-dinner drink service followed by a first course, a main course and cheese and dessert. All return flight food items were catered in Zurich so the quality and taste was very good. After a good sleep a nice breakfast was served and the famous swiss Biberli (Biber cake) were handed out before landing.
I enjoyed the service from the Edelweiss crew a lot. They were attentive and charming and, of course, the flight being half empty made it a very comfortable experience.
Condor is a German airline with a long history. The airline used to be part of the Lufthansa Group but is now owned by Thomas Cook International. While the Condor aircraft tails carry the Thomas Cook heart on them, the airplanes show the Condor name on them and many things reminded me of the Lufthansa times. The crew uniforms are still LH-style, the menu cards and the service still show the signature of Lufthansa. Condor is also part of the Miles-and-More program. This makes it easy for collecting and spending miles and getting good connecting flights as well as a check-through bag arrangement.
My flight to Havana boarded from a bus gate at Terminal B in Frankfurt and when boarding the airplane through the aircraft steps a true holiday feeling came up because many passengers were taking pictures and everything was very relaxed.
The aircraft was a 21-year old Boeing 767-300. The Business Class seating was 18 seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. The seats were angle-flat but reclinable to 170 degrees. Economy seating was: 237 in 2-3-2 configuration.
After a welcome drink, menu cards and immigration forms were handed out. The purser took the menu choice and after take-off they served the first course right away. After the first course, the entire tray was cleared and the hot dish, cheese and dessert were served separately. Then duty free sales was done, followed by ice-cream and a rest period before another meal was served. The landing in Havana was on-time and after walking from the aircraft to the terminal building immigration was done in a matter of minutes.
I enjoyed my flight with Condor very much despite the lack of wifi and the rather “vintage” seating. The crew was very pleasant and I felt well being taken care of. Condor offers a solid product at very competitive fares.
Qatar airways sells its new business class under the slogan “First in Business” with a new concept called Quad suites. There are forward and backward facing suites which can be combined into a “family suite” when the TV panels are pushed away.
If used alone, there is a generously large suite waiting for you where you have a large TV monitor, a seat that turns into a full bed and a door to close for complete privacy. Various mood lighting and nice pillows are also waiting. The famous dining anytime service is available and is enhanced with “candle lights”, a choice or hot and cold towels and warm desserts. (pyjamas are also available)
I found the suites very private and comfortable, and I loved the setting with the private door. The service was excellent and the product offered to Qatar Airways business class passengers is considered First Class on other airlines.
In my opinion this is the best business class product on the market at the moment.