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A Review of airBaltic A220-300 Business Class LGW – RIX – LGW

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AirBaltic is Latvia’s national airline, although you would never know it. Great prices and a lack of flag in their logo makes it seem like a private company, rather than 80% state-owned. Mind you, I only know this with hindsight. When I checked in for my airBaltic flight to Riga, I just thought they were a low-cost carrier in the Baltics and so I had no prior expectations. With that in mind, here is my airBaltic business class review on the A220 from London to Riga.

I was hosted by airBaltic but all opinions here are entirely my own.

airBaltic Business Class Airport Experience

airBaltic flies from Gatwick’s South Terminal so it was very easy to reach check in from the train station, just a three-minute walk.

I checked in easily online for my flight and only had hand luggage so I didn’t have any interaction with the check in staff. There was no queue at the business class line though so it seems it would have been quick. Being in business you can use Gatwick’s fast track, Gatwick Premium. I was through in less than five minutes and wondering where to rest my feet for a couple of hours.

After wandering through the odd shop, I remembered that I may be entitled to a lounge! I jumped on the airBaltic website and discovered that they use the No1 Traveller Lounge. I whipped around and made a beeline for the first floor, and that hallowed space.

airBaltic Business Class Lounges

No1 Traveller Lounge – Gatwick South

After the receptionist scanned my phone boarding pass, I was through the door and into an oasis of calm. The only noise in here was the gentle hum of conversation and cutlery on plates. It was a relief after the madness of the departure lounge.

No1 Traveller Lounge has made an effort to bring some style into the space, with special areas like The Library having a very boutique feel. They have cool geometric wallpaper in moody colours and metallic shades. It was similar to their offering in Gatwick’s North terminal (see our full review of No1 Traveller Lounge North Terminal here).

I picked a few bits from the buffet and ordered some bubbles from the bar…start as you meant to go on. Every guest was given a paper a la carte menu as they entered the lounge. If you wanted to order anything, you needed to take it to the bar and it was then confiscated. It seems to me that this limiting of a la carte options if a bit miserly.

After a pleasant hour and a bit taking in the runway views, I hopped down from my high stool and head for the boarding gate.

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Primeclass Business Lounge – Riga Airport

On the way back, at Riga Airport, I was able to breeze through fast track again and then use the Primeclass Business Lounge. This was available for the business class passengers of ten different airlines as well as the lounge pass schemes. I was surprised that airBaltic didn’t have their own lounge in their hub but this was a pretty good alternative.

There weren’t any serving staff, just people clearing so everything was self-service. On the buffet there was a continental-style choice of meats and cheese, some unfortunately dry sandwiches and a little hot section. I didn’t think it was a great offering but I loved the self-serve bar. It had a decent selection of spirits an, a couple of bar pumps and even some sparkling wine.

It is definitely worth noting that this is FAR from the gate, and you need to pass through passport en route.

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Don’t forget to check out our other flight reviews here.

AirBaltic’s A220 Interior

A strange greenish-yellow glow (that matches the livery) filled the cabin as we boarded the plane. Over the speakers, a lovely bit of music was playing. I do love boarding music so I couldn’t resist recording some for my Instagram stories. It

Everyone in business class was offered a soft drink before take off. I opted for an orange juice.

AirBaltic Business Class Seats

Configuration

The seats in business are the same as in the economy cabin, a 2-3 configuration but in business, there is always a seat next to you. In the three seats, a tray table is set up in the middle seat to separate you from your nearest neighbour.

Thank goodness or there would be quite the elbow flight for that skinny armrest!

On my outbound journey,  I sat in the two-seater which was perfectly comfortable, but I found myself staring jealously at the empty rows of three across the aisle. I guess I could have moved but I just didn’t feel like imposing myself. On the return I booked ta window seat on this side and luckily, had all three seats to myself. I lay across them and had a lovely nap.

(It was November and so not the busy season. I would have preferred to be on the side with two people if the cabin was full).

It looks a little lopsided but gives good seating options for families of different sizes
The Seat Design and Storage

The back of the seat has one of the pockets at the top. This is fine for paper but don’t put anything small in it or you’ll lose it when you open the tray table! There were also two little mesh pockets at the bottom but they don’t have a lot of stretch. I managed to get my phone charger in there but you won’t get much else stuffed away.

Leg Room

Leg room was perfectly reasonable but not amazing for a business class offering. It was fine for a European flight but it would be a little cramped for a long-haul flight.

Headrest and Recline

There wasn’t much of a headrest, just a leather headrest cover. It wasn’t great for sleeping. There was a little recline but again., not sufficient for a long-haul flight in business class.

AirBaltic Business Class Hand Luggage Allowance and Storage

The business class hand luggage allowance was pretty good, one full size carry on and a personal item of almost the same size. Even if business class had been full, there would have been plenty of room in the overhead lockers for everyone’s luggage.

NB: It has just been in the news that duty free now counts as a piece of hand luggage so make sure you don’t end up paying for luggage at the gate!

Entertainment

I was offered a newspaper before take off, but didn’t take one. Once we were airborne, the only entertainment available was the in-flight magazine. This had the standard blend of travel articles, adverts, duty free offerings and destination maps. I had a flick through vaguely wondering if they had super cheap AirPods but, no suck luck.

I put my tray table down and set up my phone up, watching Call The Midwife to pass the time. It is worth noting that there is no charging port so if you are intending to use a phone or tablet throughout the flight, it may be worth bringing a portable charger with you.

Amenities

I was not given an amenity kit on either of my flights, but as they were both reasonably short, day time journeys, I wasn’t expecting one. I curled up for plane nap on the return leg and a pillow and blanket appeared. I wish I had thought to ask for them before I fell asleep, but it is to know that they are available for passengers who request them…or look like them need them.

The bathroom was quite tight but nice and clean. I guess the small size of the cabin meant that there were just five people sharing it. I had hoped that it was “a loo with a view” as I had read about the A220s of another airline having them, but sadly, it was just a wall.

There was another small disappointment in the bathroom. There was a soap dispenser but no hand cream. I have come to expect this in business class bathrooms, especially as flying is so drying to the skin. Maybe I have become too spoiled?

AirBaltic Business Class Food and Drink

After the initial pre-departure drink, the bar was open. On both legs, I opted to have the Monopole Brut which was served in a 200ml bottle and was very delicious. The small bottle felt a little like I had bought it on a budget airline, but the real glass improved that considerably. Other passengers opted for G&Ts and other mixed drinks, which were brought quickly and I didn’t hear any grumbles.

After the drinks service came the meal. In economy, passengers must pay for food so I was expecting something like a hot wrap, or another hot snack from that menu. To my surprise, there was a full meal tray. Not bad for a reasonably short flight!

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We were presented with the menu card and I honestly didn’t register that we were getting all of it food listed. Could it have been the effect of bubbly for breakfast?

There weren’t options so if you are travelling and have any dietary requirements, make sure you inform the airline at least 48 hours before travel.

Information on my airBaltic Business Class Review

If you thinking of booking on airBaltic business class, here is some information you might like to know:

  • Check out routings and prices on the airBaltic website.
  • The airBaltic Business Class hand luggage allowance is 2 pieces at 55x40x23 cm, plus a small personal item (handbag or similar).
  • The airBaltic Business Class checked luggage allowance is 2 pieces with a combined weight of 40kg.

Final Thoughts for my AirBaltic Business Class Review – Is airBaltic Business Class Worth It?

Overall, I was reasonably impressed with airBaltic’s business class experience. The lounge offerings were third party which didn’t surprise me at Gatwick, but it would have been nice to have an airBaltic lounge in Riga.

On board, the cabin crew on both flights, were very warm and charming. I felt very well looked after. and the service rivals many flag carriers. I know I would have been very jealous if I had been on the wrong side of that little grey, dividing curtain. The drink options were good, the food something more like a premium economy offering.

I think that airBaltic’s business class was good enough for a European trip but I don’t think I would pay the extra for a long flight of six hours plus.

Rosie xx


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