Hello Flight-Report community, and welcome part 2 of my summer travels! I spent this past summer exploring parts of Europe that I hadn't yet been to, as well as further exploring the country of my heritage, Bulgaria.
This series consists of 8 flights with 6 airlines on 4 types of aircraft passing through 7 airports. All flights were in Economy Class. The full routing can be seen below.
For this sub-trip, I chose to go to Prague, because I had already heard so many good things about the city, and I'd never been there. So I started looking for flights, and stumbled upon a very decent $115 round-trip, sold by Bulgaria Air. The outbound would be operated by Bulgaria Air on an Embraer 190, and the return by Bulgaria Air's charter airline Bul Air on a Boeing 737-300! I knew that I wouldn't have many more opportunities to fly on a 737 Classic anywhere in the world, so I booked the ticket immediately. The entire routing can be seen on the map below, courtesy of the Great Circle Mapper:
On the morning of departure, I took a taxi to Sofia Airport. It started off as a rainy morning, but improved by the time of takeoff.
The line for check-in was surprisingly short, and 5 minutes later I had my boarding pass in hand and headed to security. While the security itself was relatively quick, the line for immigration was massive, as their computer systems were down. It didn't help that there was a baby who was yelling at the top of his lungs during the whole ordeal.
After 30 minutes of waiting, I finally made it airside and planespotted for a bit before heading to the lounge.
ASL Airlines Ireland ATR 72 (EI-SLT) from Cologne as ABR6992.
DHL 757-200 (G-DHKT) from Leipzig as QY908.
My aircraft arriving from Varna as FB9996.
TAROM ATR 42 (YR-ATA 'Dunarea') to Bucharest-Otopeni as RO292
There wasn't a lot of activity on the tarmac, so I went to the Pliska Lounge to relax for a bit. The Pliska Lounge is an independant contract lounge, and isn't anything to write home about. And who the hell thought that bright purple would make a good color for a lounge?!?!
The food offerings weren't much better either.
Mercifully, boarding was less than 5 minutes away, so I made my way downstairs to the bus gate my flight would be boarding from.
Adria CRJ900 (S5-AAU) to Vienna as OS806.
Arriving at my ride, LZ-SOF. It was built in March 2012 and was the first of 4 E190s to be delivered to Bulgaria Air.
For some reason, when the bus pulled up to the aircraft, the flaps were down. They were retracted before passengers were allowed on board, though.
Up close with the aircraft.
The obligatory fuselage shot.
Passing through the mini Business Class cabin.
Standard E190 Economy Class.
Decent legroom for my 5'8 frame.
Water bottles at every seat.
Everybody was on board fairly quickly, and after the safety demonstration was made we left the stand and began our taxi to Runway 27.
Passing some private jets.
Aegean A320 (SX-DNC) to Athens as A3983.
El Al 737-800 (4X-EKA)
Capital Fort - the tallest building in Bulgaria.
Lining up with the runway.
Standard right turn after departure.
Slight left turn towards Prague.
Cabin during the climb.
Climbing out over northwestern Bulgaria.
Ogosta Reservoir, Montana Province, Bulgaria.
As we exited Bulgarian airspace, the seatbelt sign was turned off and I visited the restroom, where this interesting soap dispenser was.
Cabin from the rear.
Surprise #1: newspapers were handed out after takeoff. Unfortunately, it was only Bulgarian newspapers, so I couldn't read them.
Surprise #2: all passengers were given a hot sandwich! There was no choice and everyone got a ham and cheese sandwich, but it was quite tasty! I didn't expect that.
Also distributed during the meal service was a 'towel'…
…and branded chocolate.
I was very impressed with the snack on this short flight! After the flight attendants cleaned up, the captain made his announcement and said that we had just entered Hungarian airspace, and that the remaining flight time was 55 minutes.
Closeup of the winglet.
Typical Embraer PSU.
Paper thin antimacassar.
Commencing our descent over the Austrian province of Niederösterreich.
Over the runway.
We had a firm landing on Runway 24 at 11:12 AM local time.
Exiting the runway.
Aegean A320 (SX-DGB) to Athens as A3865.
Air Transat A330-200 (C-GUBT) to Montreal-Trudeau as TS701
Rossiya A320 (VQ-TFN 'Tver') to St. Petersburg as SU6622.
Smartwings 737-800 (OK-TVY) to Djerba as QS2816.
British Airways A320 (G-EUUJ) to London-Heathrow as BA855.
Smartwings 737-800 (N820TJ, operated by Swift Air) to Antalya as QS2608.
Travel Service 737-900ER (OK-TSM) to Hurghada as QS1241.
One last look at my seat.
Thanks for the ride, LZ-SOF!
We flew more-or-less directly towards Prague after departure and cruised at an altitude of 36,000 feet.
Immigration was quick, I took the Airport Shuttle to the city center and was at my Airbnb around 1h25m after I deplaned. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you again in the next installment!
A surprisingly good flight with Bulgaria Air!
+ Friendly crew
+ Nice Embraer cabin
+ Tasty hot snack
- Terrible lounge in Sofia
- No WiFi/entertainment
I wouldn't hesitate to fly Bulgaria Air again, especially on the E190. It's nicer than their A319s, and I suspect their A320s, too.