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AirBaltic AirBus A220 at Riga Airport

AirBaltic is a Latvian short-haul airline. Airbus A220 is waiting for the departure to Helsinki.

Review: AirBaltic - Is It a Reliable Choice?

  • By Finnoy Travel
  • Updated: 09/24/21 | July 26, 2021

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Table of Contents

  1. AirBaltic - the National Carrier of Latvia
    1. Route Network
  2. Business Model of airBaltic
    1. Luggage Allowance
    2. Seat Allocation
    3. Catering
    4. Entertainment
    5. WiFi
  3. Our airBaltic Experiences
    1. Missed Connections and Compensation
  4. Rating
    1. Simpliness of the Booking
    2. Fleet
    3. Onboard Service
    4. Ticket Prices
    5. Overall Rating
  5. 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 at 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 a 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.

The gate area of Riga Airport

Riga Airport is a clean and cosy airport. Being a small airport, the good side for travellers is that not much connection time is needed between flights.

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 Dash Q400 turboprops.

Route Network

Almost all airBaltic´s routes start or end at the Riga Airport. The airline has destinations all over the Europe and also a few destinations in the Middle East. Especially, the East Europe is well covered. It is impossible to fly long-distance routes with Airbus A220 fleet so airBaltic is only a short-distance airline.

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 Dash Q400 at Helsinki Airport

AirBaltic used to fly short routes with Dash Q400 turboprob fleet. These planes were surprisingly comfortable but they have now been replaced with Airbus A220.

Luggage Allowance

AirBaltic charges quite a high luggage fee for hold luggage. A good thing is that the luggage may weight 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 weight only 8 kilograms together. You need to pay an extra fee if the luggage weights between 8 to 12 kilograms. However, we have never seen airBaltic´s airport staff weighting passengers´s cabin luggage.

Seat Allocation

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 like some other airlines do.

Catering

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 is also snacks and drinks on sale onboard.

Entertainment

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.

WiFi

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 money compensation and we have escalated the cases: once in Germany and once in Latvia. Both the times, we have won the cases and finally got the full compensation.

Rating

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 no much price difference.

Fleet

The brand new Airbus A220 fleet is comfortable. 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.

AirBaltic Info Screen

There are tiny info screens on airBaltic´s fleet sharing information about the progress of the flight.

Onboard Service

Not any onboard service is included to the ticket price so you need to pay more for everything you get. The paid food and drink selection is of good quality.

Ticket Prices

AirBaltic is never super cheap like Ryanair but really often, the airline is an inexpensive choice.

Overall Rating

We feel that airBaltic is a great low-cost airline. You need to pay extra for all additional services but they are of good quality. The fleet is new and the flights are operated safely and professionally.

Bottom Line

AirBaltic has become one of the best option to fly to Baltics and to 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!

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Destination: Latvia

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Readers' Comments (5)

  1. 08-03-2021 at 7:44am UTC by asif.maroof :

    on 2nd August my self and my wife along with young son arrived to Riga from Tashkent in the airport. Poor behaviour of staff special who was the assigned officer for boarding at gate C16 flight BT 653 to London. She was too ruth, too impolite with no ability in communication in English. Instead of simple explanation of a requirement of filling passenger locator form, she shouted and dis express racist manor. she denied us boarding and one suite case was damaged during the off loading. There was no assisstent for 4 hour, my wife with diabetic stress remained 11 hours at cold and tough condition. it was a true tough, better life time experience that I had in my life during hundreds trips. I finally bouth new ticket and paid EU365 to Ryan Air to het home at 23:40. Never ever again in Riga and will never travel trough Riga and never by Baltic airlines. From today I am starting my social media campaign to till the truth et behind the curtain in Riga airport. I will start my legal fighting as well. i
    Asif Maroof

    1. 08-03-2021 at 8:22am UTC by Finnoy Travel :

      Thanks for the comment. Sounds like an awful experience.

      We recommend to complain officially to airBaltic and ask for all extra costs back and EU261 compensation valued of 400 euros.

  2. 07-20-2020 at 5:10pm UTC by John Mallon :

    I purchased a ticket from Air Baltic on the 9th February 2020 for a flight on the 13th July 2020. Because of the Covid 19 Two week quarantine I was unable to travel. I applied for a refund or Credit and was refused both. My advice to anyone thinking of purchasing a ticket would be don't. Because if the Covid Virus forces conditions on You that stop your travel plans You will not receive any satisfaction from Air Baltic. I lost the full value of My ticket through no fault of mine. They don't care..!

  3. 01-11-2020 at 11:41pm UTC by Ludmila Mikhailava :

    My son travelled from Salzburg to Vilnius with a stop over in Riga 11.01.2020.
    1.Very slow check-in. The passengers were still being checked in when boarding started.
    2. Didn't issue the boarding pass for the connecting flight from Riga to Vilnius.
    3. his luggage did not arrive at the airport of Vilnius. And he continued his trip to Minsk,his home city, without it.
    4. Online check in and drinks onboard are fee paying.
    I would really like to be sure that his luggage will be delivered to him in Minsk next day.
    Ludmila Mikhailava

    1. 01-12-2020 at 4:10am UTC by Finnoy Travel :

      Hi Ludmila,
      Thanks for sharing about your son's flight experience with Airbaltic. Unfortunately, some airlines like Airbaltic are taking much risk about too tight schedules and hence, resulting to a super busy schedule in between flights. Oftentimes, connecting passengers are not able to take in the next flight like we had encountered from our Lisbon-Helsinki flight via Riga. Like you said, kind of last minute checked in on the time of boarding is a sign of hurry. Interesting to know thst no boarding pass issued for the flight from Riga to Vilnius, but your son arrived there anyway. About the undelivered luggage, your son should have contacted representative of the airline immediately and follow their procedures as instructed. In the case that the luggage will not be arriving at all, the airline is primarily responsible. Your son deserves a compensation in that case. Travel insurance also plays an important role. Regarding foods and drinks in flight, yes they are expected to be payable with this low-cost airline. Unless he had got some Airbaltic food vouchers as a compensation for flight delays and use them to pay for the foods/drinks on board. We wish your son is getting his luggage back soon. Cheers!

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