Air Baltic Business Class Stockholm-Riga – A breakfast flight
At the Airport
I arrived at Arlanda airport, 90 minutes before departure, at 8:30am. I had already checked in online but needed assistance to print my boarding pass as I did not have access to a printer at the time. Something that was not considered with the online check-in was the opportunity to use loyalty cards in conjunction with the reservation, such as a SAS’s EuroBonus card. The only exception was Air Baltic’s own bonus program.
Air Baltic had two check-in counters open in the old departure lounge in terminal 5, one for economy class and one for business class. There was no queue at either of the counters. Getting a boarding pass took less than a minute at the business class counter. The company Aviator is in charge of handling ground services for Air Baltic in Stockholm.
Terminal 5 was packed with people on this morning, with long queues everywhere, including the security control. As a business class passenger with Air Baltic, I had no access to the fast track, but the gentleman working at security was friendly and let me through anyway, which was much appreciated.
KLM uses the SAS lounge at Arlanda, SAS’s Gold Lounge, which was also fairly busy. The usual morning offerings from the self-service buffet are always appreciated, to start the day with a proper breakfast and a bowl of oatmeal.
Boarding and First Impressions
The incoming flight was ten minutes late, but turning the plane around occurred quickly and boarding could begin on schedule, 15 minutes before departure, at gate 6B. The aircraft was parked at the terminal, but as it was a propeller aircraft, a short walk was required to reach the steps to board.
A polite male purser welcomed me at the entrance and I quickly found my seat, 01A, just around the corner. As is usual on most aircraft, those in the first row were required to put all hand luggage in the overhead compartment.
After all the passengers had boarded, a welcome drink was offered in business class, a choice of water or orange juice. I chose the latter. I know that previously, sparkling wine was also offered before departure, even on short flights such as Stockholm-Riga. I was then offered reading material, a choice from mostly Latvian and Russian newspapers and magazines. Normally they have the Financial Times, in English, but this had run out, and I was instead offered Time magazine.
Pushback was punctual and the usual safety demonstration took place at the same time. Estimated flight time to Riga was 1 hour.
The aircraft which took us to Riga was a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, a turboprop aircraft with seats for 76 passengers, and is generally a pretty quiet aircraft to fly with. Business class consisted of four rows, however, there was only one row on the left side of the cabin. In business class, each seat is next a vacant one, which means that each passenger gets a free seat. Of the seven available business class seats in this configuration, four were occupied.
Otherwise, the same seats were found throughout the aircraft, nothing special but also not something to complain about for a flight of an hour. To get a guaranteed vacant seat next to you, however, is a big advantage.
Once in the air, menus were distributed and the first drink order was taken. I ordered a glass of orange juice that was served elegantly at my seat on a black tray.
The range of beverages was quite extensive and consisted of champagne, sparkling wine, two red wines, two white wines, beers, a variety of spirits, as well as a range of non-alcoholic drinks. The champagne onboard was Heidsieck Monopole Brut. A classic to try onboard with your coffee, is Riga Black Balsam, a traditional Latvian herbal liqueur.
As this was a morning flight to Riga, breakfast was served on board, and it was a pretty extensive breakfast for a flight of one hour. The breakfast was, in effect, a three-course meal, with salami and salad as an appetiser, tandoori chicken with marinated vegetables as the main course, and for dessert, granola. Also on the tray was yogurt, butter and jam. The purser offered additional drinks followed by warm bread and croissants from a basket. Finally, coffee and tea were offered, along with a small chocolate.
Overall, a very tasty and filling breakfast. Not at all bad considering the short flight time.
Later during the flight, after the trays had been cleared, additional drinks were offered and some passengers ordered alcoholic beverages.
Two people were working in the cabin, a male purser, who served in business class, and a flight attendant, who took care of the sales cart in economy class. Both were very friendly and polite, and both spoke excellent English.
The serving was performed elegantly. For example, all drinks were poured in the small galley in front, and then served from a black tray at your seat. No names were used on board, however, I was consistently referred to as Sir.
We landed five minutes before the scheduled time, at 12:15pm local time, in a very cloudy Riga where the rain had just stopped. Previously at Riga, you often were taken to and from the aircraft by bus, but with the extended terminal, more and more flights are able to park directly at the terminal, including today’s flight from Stockholm.
Riga is a small airport and as I had only hand luggage, I was in the arrivals hall less than ten minutes after landing.
Good service for a business class flight of only one hour. A good breakfast and a fairly extensive beverage list. Jet aircraft are generally more comfortable to travel with, but the Dash-8 Q400 is still both fairly quiet and spacious.