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Review: Croatian Airlines - A Young National Carrier

  • By Finnoy Travel
  • Updated: 08/10/19 | July 27, 2019
Croatian Airlines A319 at Split Airport
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The livery colours of Croatian Airlines.

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Croatia Is a Young Country

Croatia has been independent since 1991. It lies on the East coast of Adriatic Sea and less than 5 million people are living in this young country. Tourism has become a huge export product of Croatia. Every year there is an increasing number of tourists' arrivals to Croatia. This visit is rewarding as one will enjoy the country's comfortable climate and beautiful sceneries.

The National Carrier: Croatian Airlines

Croatia Airlines is the flag-carrier of Croatia and it is owned by the state. The airline was founded in 1989. It is still considered a small airline which is operating domestic routes in Croatia and much of its 38 destinations are mainly in Europe. Zabreb Airport is the airline's only hub. Croatian Airlines belongs to the world's biggest airline alliance: Star Alliance.

While all of Croatian Airlines' destinations lay inside Europe, the airline also have flights to Middle East but it does not have any long-haul destinations. Many of the airline's European destinations are seasonal.

Croatian Airlines has modern but not so young fleet. It uses Airbus A319 and A320 types to operate longer destinations and shorter routes are operated by Dash 8-400. The airline has a total of only 12 aircraft which makes it a small airline.

Safety of Croatian Airlines

Airlineratings.com has given Croatia Airlines the best 7-star safety rating. The airline has not had any fatal accidents but some minor incidents. Clearly, the airline has a good safety record.

Our Flights with Croatian Airlines

We flew a domestic route from Split to Dubrovnik by 19 years old Airbus A319-112. The flight time was only a little more than 30 minutes while the same route by bus would have taken more than 4 hours. There was not much price difference between a flight and a bus, so we decided to fly this short hip.

One of us flew also an international route from Helsinki to Split via Zagreb. The flight from Helsinki to Zagreb was marketed by Croatian Airlines but it was operated by Air Nostrum's CRJ-1000. This aircraft was surprisingly young. Air Nostrum is a Spanish Airline that is doing wet-leasing for Croatian Airlines. The flight from Zagreb to Split was operated by Croatian Airlines itself.

Air Nostrum CRJ1000 people boarding at Helsinki

Our flight from Helsinki to Zagreb was operated by Air Nostrum's CRJ1000 plane.

This review is based on our experiences during these 3 flights.

Booking

We booked the flights via Skycanner. Skycanner compares the prices of different booking sites and this time we found that Supersaver.fi was the best place to book the flights. The booking processes were eventless. The low-fare tickets didn't include anything else than the flights themselves. After the bookings on supersaver.fi, we had to add our Star Alliance loyalty numbers on Croatian Airlines' own web site.

Check-in

Almost all airlines have an internet check-in. So has Croatian Airlines too. We made the check-ins with our mobile phones and we were allowed to choose seats free-of-charge. A mobile boarding pass was provided and there was no need to print anything. Because we were travelling only with cabin luggage, we just proceeded to the security checks.

Fleet

Our Croatian Airlines flights were operated by Airbus A319. The first flight was operated by Air Nostrum and the plane type was CRJ-1000. Even though the fleet of Croatian Airlines is modern, Airbus aircraft are not young anymore. They were in so good condition so it was difficult to believe they were 19 years old. Air Nostrum's CRJ-1000 was brand new.

Croatian Airlines Airbus A319

Airbus A319 of Croatian Airlines flew us from sunny Split to beautiful Dubrovnik.

Air Nostrum CRJ1000 at Zagreb

Our Helsinki-Zagreb flight arrived on the time to Croatia's city capital.

Our Rating

The Friendliness of the Customer Service

We can surely say that the cabin crew were not rude but actually they were not friendly either. On the flight from Split to Dubrovnik there was no welcome announcement and the crew didn't speak much at all. In the contrast, the pilot of the flight gave a clear speak.

Cabins

The cabins of Airbus A319 were clean and looked newer than expected from its many years of operation. Seats were thin and spacious enough even in the economy class. There were also information screens but they were too small and quite far away from some of the seats and the display quality was poor. We didn't even see the full safety demonstration because the screens were not working properly.

The cabin of Air Nostrum CRJ1000

Air Nostrum CRJ1000's cabin with seatings 2+2.

Ticket Price

Our flight from Split to Dubrovnik was cheap. The flight from Helsinki to split was also quite inexpensive because we bought it only a few hours before the departure after the denied of boarding by another airline. Croatian Airlines was the cheapest option to fly from Helsinki to Croatia immediately.

On-board Services

On the domestic route only water was served.

On the longer route, they served a complimentary meal, prosciutto and cheese. While the prosciutto,a dry-cured pork legs were too salty, the cabin crew served water many minutes after serving the meal so it was quite unpleasant experience for that waiting period. Anyway, all complimentary snacks are nowadays better than nothing.

Croatian Airlines economy meal

The complimentary meal served by Croatian Airlines included traditional Croatian food and a cup of water.

Price-to-Quality Ratio

Croatian Airlines is not categorized as a low-cost airline. The price level is still moderate and the planes are spacious and comfortable. Complimentary snacks and drinks also increase the airline's rating.

Air Nostrum CRJ1000 fuselage

Air Nostrum's CRJ1000

Croatian Airlines gives you enough value for money.

Overall Rating

Croatian Airlines is a good airline but not the best we have flown with. In its category, it performs really well.

Air Nostrum CRJ1000 at Helsinki Airport

Air Nostrum CRJ1000 at Helsinki Airport bound for Zagreb Aiport.

Bottom Line

Croatia is a destination we can recommend to anyone. Even if you are a first-time Europe visitor, Croatia is a good and inexpensive place to start. Flying to your destination by Croatian Airlines will surely be a nice experience too. Unfortunately, the airline does not have long-haul destinations yet.

Croatian Airlines at Split in the spring

Flying is the best way to connect between cities in Croatia as land transportation is slow due to the country's geographical structure.

Have you flown with Croatian Airlines? How would you rate it?

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