La compagnie qui obtient la meilleure moyenne est Lufthansa avec 7.3/10.
La durée moyenne des vols est de 2 heures et 2 minutes.More information
Hey everyone, I hope you're doing fine. Welcome to my first trip report this year (I know it's been a while).
When searching for inspiration for a quick getaway on Skyscanner, we found that Riga with AirBaltic was one of the cheapest options going from Frankfurt. We first dismissed it as we were thinking about going somewhere around the Mediterranean, but the longer we thought about it, the more enticing Riga became. First, it's not a classical touristy destination; second, it won't be as hot as, say, in Crete or Sicily; third, we got a cheap offer for a good hotel in the city center. So we settled on Riga as destination for this trip. This also meant that I was going on my first trip not only with AirBaltic but also on an Airbus A220. It was also clear from the beginning that the return flight would by operated by Fly2Sky, which added another facet of adventure to our little journey. Click here for that review.
Our trip today began early in the morning at around 7.30am at the airport. We actually tried to be there earlier than normal because the day before, it had rained so much that large parts of the public transport system broke down. That morning, however, everything went swimmingly, and we got dropped off right before the terminal building by bus line 61.
We were so early that even after we located our bag-drop counter via the Fraport website, the counter was still not open. Still, we weren't the first ones to appear there; about a dozen people were already waiting. Air Baltic allows you to check in up to 5 days before the flight if you have reserved seats, which we had. It is very advisable to check in online, as with the cheapest fares, you will have to pay €35 to use the airport check-in.
A couple of minutes after our arrival at the counter, it was staffed by two people who handled the bag-drops and check-ins quite efficiently.
We passed through the security checkpoint with a waiting time of about 5 minutes and almost trouble-free, and then we were right in the heart of the Schengen area of terminal 2. This area is pretty gray, depressing and dead. There's a fairly sizable duty-free shop, if that's your thing, and otherwise only a cafe/restaurant, a bakery, and a convenience store. That's about the extent of shops and eateries in this area of the airport. Another big disadvantage compared to terminal 1, in my opinion, is the lack of a water fountain in this terminal.
On a more positive note, Frankfurt airport actually invested some thought in the waiting areas, installing e.g. a gaming area, work areas with plug sockets, and an indoor playground for children and their (only) slightly stressed parents. Also, our gate today was D21, which meant that we only had to turn right after the security checks and then had a walk of maybe 50m to the gate.
There it is.
The actual waiting areas in Terminal 2 Schengen are in these buildings that are built between the terminal main building and the apron, which means that there are as good as no apron or runway views from terminal 2 proper. In these parts of the terminal, there are also substantially more seats but they aren't used as they are behind the ticket check counters, and most airlines will only have those staffed shortly before boarding, so that passengers only pass through there.
Anyhow, boarding for our 9:50 departure was set to commence on 9:20. A couple of minutes before that, there was a terminal announcement that passengers on flight BT244 were to head to gate D21, and shortly after that the ticket checks at the gate took place. As we would be boarding via buses, we were asked to wait for some time in these buffer-zone seating areas.
On the flip side, now there was nothing between us and the apron :) So we could see those to AA birds heading to Charlotte and Dallas…
…and this DL A330-200 coming in from Atlanta. Shameless plug warning - see my report of this flight from last year here ;)
Soon after, we were led down the stairs to where the bus waited and boarded the "last bus" for our flight. Enjoy some random apron views and the first glimpse at our ride today.
Today's plane: A220-300 YL-CSM (4,8 years old). Delivered new to airBaltic in November 2018. Nickname: Jūrmala (even though I had not noticed this at that point).
As our seats today were in row 22, we headed up the aft stair to the airplane and found ourselves welcomed in a modern and bright, albeit somewhat bland looking cabin - a tribute to the wet-lease heavy business model of BT?
Anyhow, legroom was very adequate for this kind of flight. The seats were well-padded, even though on the longer flights, e.g. to Dubai, I would miss an adjustable headrest. The tables were quite large and sturdy and could be moved forward and backward. Row 22 features a wall right next to oneself; for good window views, one has to bend forward a little. A major plus point in my opinion is the cabin configuration of 2-3 - especially if you can snatch one of the seats on the left side of the plane, the side with only 2 seats per row.
Apart from the two little net-pockets, each seat features a larger literature pocket on top.
The contents of the literature pocket were fairly standard. There was an inflight magazine, featuring the typical (high-classy) travel and restaurant recommendations as well as advertising for duty-free shopping and the inflight menu. Speaking of the latter, the selection of items as well as the prices were fairly standard. Hot menus have to be purchased in advance.
Returning to the inflight magazine, this one also featured information on the fleet (i.e. the A220-300, the only type in BT's fleet), the airlines' routes, and a full map and schedule of flights operated under the airBaltic brand.
The ceiling panels not only featured individual reading lights but also individual air nozzles and little screens that displayed various pieces of information during the flight.
Note on picture 4 of the gallery above that the top of that seat seems to be held together with ducktape. In general, the cabin didn't seem to have help up well in the almost 5 years of this aircraft's existence. For example, there were visible cracks in the plastic of my left armrest.
Note the sad and hopeless face on the guy on the safety card looking out the window.
Alongside the reading lights and air nozzles, there was also the little screen on the ceiling panel, customary A220 style. During the flight, different pieces of information regarding the flight were shown, as well as ads for their buy on board program.
Window view from seat 22A.
On 9:55, 5 minutes after the scheduled departure time, the captain made his announcement and said that all passengers were on board; however, the departure would be delayed by a few further minutes due to the loading of baggage and cargo not having been finished yet. Nonetheless, he estimated that arrival in Riga would be on time.
On 10:19, we were finally pushed back.
We left our spot near to this BA A320 and taxied past some of the more interesting airliners here in FRA, e.g. these aircraft from Finnair, Middle East Airlines, KLM, and Air Europa (click here for last year's reviews of this airline) and made our way to runway 07C. There we lined up after an Eurowings Discover A330 and snuck in right before an Air Canada A330.
Full thrust engaged and speeding past several United aircraft and colorful Condor beachtowels… and with a gentle bump we were lifted up in the air, where the view quickly became quite hazy…
Very soon, Germany disappeared under a thick cloud cover, only to be interrupted a few times to allow some views onto Frankfurt suburbs.
Soon after the seatbelt signs were turned off, I headed to the back of the plane in search for a lavatory. The back of the plane is rather cramped, with very little working space for the flight attendants, including one jump seat that was folded into the wall. There was also just one lavatory, which was still pretty clean but not exactly in an immaculate state. While I waited for the lavatory to be free again, I took a look out of the small window in the portside aft door and watched as the flight attendants diligently prepared the pre-ordered hot meals and coffee.
The rest of the flight was very uneventful. The buy-on-board service took place but was rather unnoticeable as we hadn't preordered anything nor did we buy anything. Anyhow, enjoy the views of Bornholm, belonging to Denmark (photo above)…
…and the first view of the Latvian coast, leaving the open (Baltic) seas.
Shortly later, around 1pm, we began our descent. Almost at the same time, an announcement by the captain happened, warning us about some potential turbulences from now on, apart from the usual information about time (+1 hour compared to Germany) and temperature at our destination, Riga.
Notice the beach resort town of Jurmala on the left of the picture above, next to the wing. To us, Jurmala appeared less as a town and more as a 35km long assortment of little towns and tourist facilities, but with charming architecture and nice beaches.
More of Jurmala in the background, and flaps visibly deployed, if not fully.
…and touched down unnoticeably at around 1.20pm.
Welcome to Riga airport! We were soon greeted by some interesting planes, as this swiftAir ATR that somehow made its way to Riga (probably charter/wetlease?), a Carpatair Fokker 100 operating for Air Baltic, and what looks like a former Condor A321. Soon, though, it became clear that Air Baltic is clearly the main character here at Riga airport, with several of the white and light green A220s standing around the airport. However, probably fewer than normally, due to issues with their Pratt & Whitney supplied engines… (more on that on the return trip report)
Riga's airport is fairly small at least compared to Frankfurt, so the way to the terminal's Schengen area concourse didn't take long at all. We safely stopped at gate B6, soon after which a Norwegian 737 joined us next to us at the terminal. Even a bit sooner, a fuel truck appeared to make our plane ready for its next journey.
The Schengen area concourse of the airport doesn't have jetbridges, so we were led a couple of meters by airport staff down the stairs…
…to these glass buildings which house stairs up to the terminal via bridges.
Riga airport appeared as a modern and quite bright space, albeit not a very open one. Anyhow, our aim today wasn't to spend a whole lot of time at the airport, but to get to the baggage claim and then the exit as efficiently as possible, which was pretty easy due to the clear and easy-to-read signage across the building.
To be fair about the "openness" aspect, as soon as you reach the part of the terminal buidling that connects the concourses, it gets much more opener and airy. They even planted some real flowes along the windows.
Cheesy bokeh shot of said flowers ;)
The baggage claim area was laid out quite clearly with information screens laying out which baggage for which flight will arrive at which time. Around 1.45pm, six minutes before it was scheduled to come out, the baggage from Frankfurt appeared.
On another note, the baggage claim area also featured restrooms and a drinking water dispenser…
…as well as this nice map of Riga, already including the Rail Baltica rail connection connecting the Baltic states with each other and Poland. Or in this case, Riga city and its airport.
One more look at the rather gray and not very spacious looking departure side of the airport…
…and out of the airport to find bus number 22 to the city. This city is very convenient to get to the city center, including the central rail station, and runs every 15 minutes or so. It will carry you to the city center in around 20 minutes and one ride is 2€. It's also one of the few services for which you can simply buy a single ride ticket from the driver. Of course, it'll be much more quick and convenient once said Rail Baltica link will be established.
With this, I'd just like to thank you for reading until the end. I hope you found the report interesting despite not much happening at all, and am looking forward to seeing your feedback and comments and to seeing you at the next report!
BT: A nice and efficient way of getting to and from the Baltic states (and Finland), also cheaper than Lufthansa Group most of the time. Would fly them again. Comfortable albeit somewhat worn cabin, attentive and efficient crew, and at least some inflight information. Catering was buy-on-board only, except for (paid) preorders.
FRA: An experience which didn't blow us away in any way. Very efficient despite German/Hessian summer holiday times, and easy enough to reach from the city center (particularly if you don't travel by train). Lackluster facilities airside in Terminal 2, and the restrooms could be cleaner.
RIX: Riga airport might not look the most spectacular, but it's still a rather pleasant place. Most of all, processes are quick and efficient with minimal delays when unboarding or waiting for baggage. There's a decent selection of shops and eateries at the airport, and access to the city is quite ok as well.