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Brussels Airlines Review: A Distrustful Airline?

Brussels Airlines Airbus A320 at CPH Airport
Brussels Airlines has mainly short-haul aircraft like the Airbus A320 in the photo.

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We flew from Copenhagen to Brussels with Brussels Airlines. The airline was strange for us but we had an image that it has a good reputation. However, it turned the other way, learn how we got disappointed for this Belgium airline.

Brussels Airlines: Airline from the EU

Brussels is the de-facto capital of the European Union. Brussels is a lively city full of friendly people. That made our expectations for Brussels Airlines high but unfortunately, we were disappointed. However, it is good to remember that the airline itself has nothing to do with the EU, the only thing that happens to come from Brussels.

Brussels Airlines is the flag carrier of Belgium, replacing the country's former national carrier Sabena which collapsed in 2001. The country needed a new national airline. This was finally realized when private investors and governments founded a new company together. Brussels Airlines was founded in 2006 and its operations began a year later.

Brussels Airlines is a medium-sized airline. It is flying mainly inside Europe with its short-haul fleet. The airline has only a few long-haul destinations.

Route Network

Brussels Airport is the hub of the Brussels Airlines. The airline has about 90 destinations that are located mainly inside Europe. There are also a few destinations in the United States. Because Brussels Airlines has only 3 wide-body aircraft, the number of long-haul destinations is limited. The airline has a good code-share network with well-known big airlines.

Brussels Airlines belongs to the Star Alliance which is the biggest airline alliance in the world. Together with the alliance, this medium-sized airline can be competitive in the global market.

Loyalty Programs of Brussels Airlines

Brussels Airlines has two different loyalty programs. You can collect points to Miles&More which is an airline mile program managed by Brussel Airline's parent company Lufthansa. Another option is to collect points for Brussels Airlines' program called LOOP. It differs from traditional airlines' bonus systems.

Because we flew with a low-fare ticket, we were not entitled to any Miles&More points. The LOOP program was not useful for us either because we are not flying with Brussels Airlines often. That is why we didn't analyse the benefits of these programs better..

Our Flight with Brussels Airlines

We flew from Copenhagen to Brussels in April 2018. Because Brussels Airlines is not flying directly from Helsinki, we first took Norwegian's flight from Helsinki to Copenhagen and then continued with Brussels Airlines to the final destination. This route was the best option for us since we didn't want to book an expensive Finnair's direct flight from Helsinki to Brussels and obviously with our wants to try flying with an unfamiliar airline for us.

Unfortunately, everything didn't go as smoothly as we had planned. Brussels Airlines broke our plans and they were quite unwilling to co-operate in solving them.

Booking the Flight

Like always, we compared flight prices on Skyscanner. We decided to book two separate flights. One from Helsinki to Copenhagen with Norwegian and one from Copenhagen to Brussels with Brussels Airlines. We estimated that there was enough time to connect between the flights because we were planning to travel only with hand luggage. We also had our private travel insurance in case we missed the connection.

Tip: Always have travel insurance when travelling to limit unexpected costs.

The booking process itself went smoothly. Skyscanner directed us to the airline's web page where we finished the booking.

Flight Cancellation and Its Consequences

Problems started a few weeks after our booking was still many weeks before the actual travel date. Brussels Airlines suddenly contacted us that they had cancelled our flight and we should have flown from Copenhagen to Brussels 4 hours earlier as it was originally scheduled. It is the first time in our travel history that an airline cancels a flight and expects us to fly much earlier than we had booked.

We contacted Brussels Airlines and were told that we couldn't fly earlier but the only option is to fly later. Finally, they proposed we fly the next day but told us that we should pay for our hotel in Copenhagen ourselves. The customer service was unfriendly and not helpful at all.

Finally, we rebooked our outbound flight with Norwegian Airlines to Copenhagen just to be able to make the earlier flight with Brussels Airlines. We had to pay all the extra costs ourselves. This airline didn't take responsibility. According to our communication with the European Consumer Centre, Brussels Airlines did wrong. While we were trying to solve the problem, the airline's way of communication became unfriendlier and unfriendlier.

Check-in Procedure

When the day of flying came, we made the check-in online. It went smoothly without any problems. We flew to Copenhagen by Norwegian and at the Copenhagen Airport, we just proceeded to the gate because we had only our hand luggage. Brussels Airlines' cheapest economy ticket does not include luggage to the hold on short-haul flights. The seat selection was free during the online check-in.

Aircraft of Our Flight

Our flight was operated by Airbus A320. It departed from Copenhagen a little late but that wasn't a big issue. The plane was clean and in good condition. We were not expecting anything more so we were happy with the aircraft.

In-flight Meals

Brussels Airlines is not offering any complimentary in-flight meals on short-haul flights in economy class. Unexpectedly, we were offered a cute piece of chocolate.

Belgian chocolate on Brussels Airlines
In the economy class no in-flight meal was offered but only a piece of chocolate.

Our Brussels Airlines Rating

Customer Service and Professional Skills

This is the first time we have given only 1 star for customer service. Brussels Airlines was quite unwilling to solve problems and their replies were unfriendly. They didn't take responsibility.

Cabin of the Planes

The cabin was clean and in good condition. There were not any in-flight entertainment systems though we did not expect much.

The cabin of Airbus A320 on Brussels Airlines
The cabin of Airbus A320 was clean, spacious enough and in good condition.

Ticket Price

Our fare was surprisingly low. It seems that Brussels Airlines can't anymore offer good quality when the fares have gone too down. We would have wanted to pay a little more for our flight tickets to get better customer service.

Price to Quality Ratio

The price was low but so was the responsibility level of the airline. The price-to-quality ratio is at a moderate level. Brussels Airlines acts as a low-cost airline.

Overall Rating

The flight itself went well and everything was like we expected during the flight. Also, the flying crew were friendly. However, if the airline is not serving its customers well or taking responsibility, it can't be rated as good. The lack of good customer service gives Brussels Airlines an overall low rating.

Final Words

Would we fly with Brussels Airlines again? Probably yes. Based on our experiences, their responsibility level is quite low but that is typical for low-cost airlines. The only difference is that Brussels Airlines is not a low-cost airline but the flag carrier of Belgium.

Flying with Brussels Airlines is a good enough choice, but don't pay too much for the ticket. You may end up getting a low-cost service level.

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Destination: Belgium

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