Review: AirBaltic - Is It a Reliable Choice?
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Covered in the Article
- AirBaltic - the National Carrier of Latvia
- Business Model of airBaltic
- Our airBaltic Experiences
- Bottom Line
AirBaltic - the National Carrier of Latvia
AirBaltic, which is sometimes called also as Baltic Airlines, is the flag-carrier of Latvia. It has only one base in the capital of Latvia, Riga. Earlier, airBaltic was flying also point-to-point connections but in 2008, the airline changed its business model to connect all passengers at its Riga hub.
For travellers heading to/from Nordics and Baltics, connecting at Riga is simple. The location of the hub is good and unlike big airports, the Riga Airport is compact which makes very short connections possible. Walking distance from a gate to a gate is often only a few minutes. Crossing the Schengen border requires 15 minutes more.
AirBaltic was known for its old Boeing 737 fleet but during the past few years, the airline has upgraded the entire fleet. Now, airBaltic is a pure Airbus airline flying only with Airbus A220 fleet. No old classical Boeing 737 planes are used anymore and neither are Dash Q400 turboprops.
Almost all airBaltic´s routes start or end at the Riga Airport. The airline has destinations all over Europe and also a few destinations in the Middle East. Especially, East Europe is well covered. It is impossible to fly long-distance routes with the Airbus A220 fleet so airBaltic is only a short-distance airline.
How to Find Inexpensive Flights?
Follow our simple checklist to find a good deal:
- Compare flight prices on Skyscanner on different dates.
- Choose the most suitable schedule and price.
- Decide whether to book directly from the airline or via an Online Travel Agency (OTA)
- Let Skyscanner to forward you to the chosen booking site.
- Go through the booking process and avoid buying unnecessary extras.
- Double check all the details CAREFULLY before the payment.
Business Model of airBaltic
AirBaltic is a hybrid airline. It is combining the traditional model with the low-cost model. For us, airBaltic looks more like a low-cost airline than a traditional airline. A flight ticket includes only the flight and you need to pay extra for everything else. Seat allocation, hold luggage and catering are all paid services.
AirBaltic charges quite a high luggage fee for luggage in the hold. A good thing is that the luggage may weigh even 25 kilograms which is a little more than many other airlines offer.
A normal-sized cabin luggage is allowed with a personal item free of charge but they can weigh only 8 kilograms together. You need to pay an extra fee if the luggage weighs between 8 to 12 kilograms. However, we have never seen airBaltic´s airport staff weighing passengers´ cabin luggage.
It is possible to choose a seat during the booking or the check-in but there is a fee. The fee varies between the seat locations. A paid seat includes an option to check in even 5 days before the departure.
Without reserved seats, airBaltic does not normally separate passengers in the same booking as some other airlines do.
There is no free onboard service on airBaltic flights. Not even free water is served but you need to pay for everything.
It is possible to order moderately priced meals before the flight. We have ordered food a few times and it has been tasty and quite affordable. There are also snacks and drinks on sale onboard.
Onboard, there are free airBaltic magazines. There are also tiny screens sharing information about the progress of the flight. Not any other entertainment is available.
Airbus A220 fleet has a WiFi but no internet connection. You can use WiFi only to browse airBaltics' own information and to order snacks and drinks. Snacks ordered by the WiFi will be brought to your seat but the payment must be done traditionally to a flight attendant. According to our experience, this service is not so popular.
Our airBaltic Experiences
AirBaltic has taken us to Portugal, Austria, Germany and to many other destinations. Our first airBaltic experiences were not that good because the planes were old and the service model was not as developed as it is now. Our latest airBaltic experiences have been perfect and we have got value for our money.
Missed Connections and Compensation
We have been unlucky to miss flight connections twice at the Riga Airport because of the late arrival of the inbound flight. AirBaltic has offered us hotel rooms and meals as regulated by the EU261. However, airBaltic has refused to pay us the monetary compensation and we have escalated the cases: once in Germany and once in Latvia. Both times, we have won the cases and finally got the full compensation.
Simpliness of the Booking
AirBaltic has a well-working website where booking a flight is simple. It is also possible to book flights via a travel agency but there is not much price difference.
The brand new Airbus A220 fleet is comfortable. The cabins are really clean and nicely decorated. The planes are also quiet and more environmental-friendly. There could be more entertainment in such new planes.
Not any onboard service is included in the ticket price so you need to pay more for everything you get. The paid food and drink selection is of good quality.
AirBaltic is never super cheap like Ryanair but often, the airline is an inexpensive choice.
We feel that airBaltic is a great low-cost airline. You need to pay extra for all the additional services but they are of good quality. The fleet is new and the flights are operated safely and professionally.
- What aircraft types are there in airBaltic´s fleet?
- AirBaltic uses only new and modern Airbus A220 planes.
- Is there complimentary onboard service on airBaltic´s flights?
- No, you need to pay separately for everything.
- Is there WiFi onboard airBaltic?
- Yes, there is but without an internet connection.
- Is airBaltic a safe airline?
- The safety record of airBaltic is excellent. But be aware that there are always risks with every kind of transportation.
- Is airBaltic cheap?
- We would say that airBaltic is inexpensive, not cheap.
- Where to buy tickets for airBaltic flights?
- We compare prices often on Skycanner. It finds the prices of many booking sites.
- Is it easy to connect at the Riga Airport?
- Yes, the airport is small so connecting is easy and fast.
- Does Latvia belong to the Schengen Area?
- Yes, it does.
- How much time do I need to connect at the Riga Airport?
- We would say that 30 mins are enough.
AirBaltic has become one of the best options to fly to the Baltics and North Europe.The fleet is modern and comfortable. Ticket prices are low but you need to pay for extras. The Riga Airport is a fast and comfortable connecting point. According to our experiences, airBaltic is a reliable choice to fly with.
What are your experiences? Comment below!