Monday, February 20, 2017

Trip Report: Brussels Airlines, Barcelona to Brussels (February 2017)

Trip Report: Brussels Airlines, Barcelona to Brussels
comment below and let me know your thoughts :)

After Barcelona, my next stop was Brussels.  There are a couple of airlines that fly this route - including RyanAir, Vueling, and Brussels.  RyanAir and Vueling are both considered LCC, while Brussels has a variety of options available including some that are similar to LCCs.  When comparing the prices across all three airlines - again, I needed to check-in luggage so this is the price I was looking at - Brussels airline was either the right around the same or sometimes less than the LCCs.  While you do not get free drinks or meals on intra-European flights, you do get FF miles as Brussels Airlines is part of Star Alliance.  In the end, I choose to fly with Brussels because of the low-cost, timing of the flight, and availability of FF miles.

The ticket that I had purchased included checked baggage plus pre-assigned seat, so I was
able to choose my own seat when I booked the ticket.  Booking on Brussels website was extremely easy and efficient.  I had selected my option and was booked within minutes.  My flight from Barcelona was scheduled to leave at 9:20p and arrive Brussels at 11:25p with a flight time of 2hr05mins.  About a month before my departure, Brussels Airlines released a mobile app which made it convenient to manage my booking and check into my flight.

I had arrived at the airport around 7:30p and went to the counter to check-in my
luggage.  The counter was just opening up, and even though they technically had three lines to check-in there was no order and people just went to whichever lined they preferred.   I checked my bag, received my boarding pass, and went to my gate.  The inbound flight arrives from Brussels at 8:40pm and then has approximately 40 minutes to turn the plane around.  When the plane arrived, people started lining up in one long queue.  There were very little announcements made by the ground staff in terms of boarding.  There was also no method to the boarding; whoever got in line first was the first to board.  It was an odd arrangement.

The operating plane was an Airbus A319 with three seats on each
side.   The plane was divided into sections with a card at the beginning indicating each section.  The sections were based on the type of service you had purchased – there were Flex & Go, Light & Relax, and others.   The type of ticket you purchased is also indicated on your boarding pass.  I had selected the 'Light & Relax' fare which included checked baggage and also including pre-selecting the seat; I choose the exit row.  The seats themselves were slimline seats but were comfortable and provided decent legroom.  The back of the seats were also minimal with pocket at top that contained the airline magazine, the safety card, and the inflight menu.

Despite no method, we boarded rather quickly and pushed back from the gate on-time. 
Safety demonstrations were done manually, and the announcements were made in a mix of English, French, and Flemish. 

Once we reached cruising altitude, the inflight service started.  Some ticket options include a free drink and/or free snack, while for most other tickets everything has to be purchased.  The menu was decently priced, which was a nice surprise as most airline menus are drastically overpriced.  An additional bonus, I am not sure if it was because it was a late night flight, but all the full sandwich and combo meals were discounted by 50%.  As Belgium is known for chocolate and waffles, I decided to try the hot chocolate + waffle combo.  The combo was 5euro and overall both the waffle and the hot chocolate were good.  Both had good flavor and were very tasty.

Besides the airline magazine, there was no inflight entertainment so it’s a good idea to bring your own entertainment.  The flight was generally smooth and we landed early in Brussels.  We quickly deplaned and the luggage was also quickly delivered, so by 11:35p I was already in the train to the city centre. 

Overall, it was a pleasant short trip in Brussels Airlines.  I was not sure what to expect and my expectations were low given it was an intra-European flight; however, the airline provided good service, a decent seat, and reasonably priced in-flight menu.  Based on this, I look forward to taking Brussels Airlines long-haul.  

No comments:

Post a Comment