Air Baltic, Business Class – Boeing B 737-300: Riga to Zürich



It’s Friday morning and time for me to return to Switzerland. I enjoyed my trip to Riga. Above all, the Latvians were really excellent hosts and took good care of me.

Getting to the Airport

My flight will be departing from Riga at 07h50. Which means I have ordered a taxi to leave the Ibis Centre at 06h00. I’m being lazy and taking a taxi this time, simply because I didn’t bother to check at what time the busses start running and the bus journey takes longer anyway.

Just a word of caution about the taxis, though: apparently, they’ve got quite a racket going on in Riga and everyone I spoke to warned me that the drivers are not to be trusted. Indeed, I was told the journey should not cost more then EUR15. When I checked at the hotel though, I was told it was a fixed fare of EUR18. By the time I reached the airport, the driver was asking for EUR20…


Another word of warning. Or two, rather. Mornings can get very busy in Riga and the airport is becoming too small to handle all the passengers. As a result, the queues for check-in and security can stretch very far back. So if you can, make sure you check-in online or use one of the self-service machines. If you’re travelling with Air Baltic, fast track security is included in the Business Class ticket. Otherwise, fast track access can be purchased at the time of booking for EUR10. And I would seriously advise getting the fast track access.


Since my last visit the passage connecting the original pier B to the newly constructed pier C has opened. And with that, the new and larger Business Class lounge has also moved. It is now located in the passage between the two piers and one floor up from the general airside area.

Air Baltic doesn’t have it’s own lounge and instead uses the Premier Lounge, which, as far as I can tell, is the only contractor lounge at the airport and is used by all other carriers as well.

The new lounge certainly offers more space. Fortunately, like the old lounge, it also has excellent views of the ramp and the runway.


Boarding starts on time. And it looks like it’s going to be a full flight. Despite the fact that our aircraft is parked on a contact stand, much to my delight we shall be boarding via steps, the traditional way. So I can basically knock myself out taking photos…

The Cabin

The cabin of this aircraft is slightly different from the one on the inbound flight, in that there is no bulkhead on the port side of the cabin. Apparently, this is why they try not to assign this row to passengers unless the flight is completely sold out.

I’m on 2A today, which is the window seat on the second row. Originally, there’s this enormous, very muscly Russian on the aisle seat 2C. But once the doors close, he asks if he can move to 1A and I have the whole row to myself again.

The Crew

The crew working the Business Class cabin consists of two well-groomed and very polite young men. They’re not as cordial and warm as the two female cabin crew on the outbound flight. But still, their manners are impeccable.

The service runs very much along the same lines as the flight from Zürich to Riga: welcome drink, newspapers, menu, hot towels.

The Meal

Again, a hot meal is served. It consists of:

  1. Greek yoghurt with granola, berries and mango coulis,
  2. Pancakes, served with strawberry jam,
  3. Cream cheese,
  4. a selection from the breadbasket,
  5. orange juice,
  6. coffee

The meal is quite good. The granola could have done with a bit more yoghurt, but other than that it’s fine. I especially like the pancakes, which are thick and chunky and taste lovely with the strawberry jam.

Not that many passengers are actually eating, preferring to sleep instead. Apparently, most of them are connecting from Tbilisi, Moscow and Almaty, which are night flights

So once the meal is removed, I figure when in Rome… I only wake up shortly before landing, when the cabin crew ask me to put my seat back in the upright position again for touch down.


Zürich airport is still calm when we arrive, so there’s no hold up for landing. After all, it’s only just gone 09h10 here in Switzerland so the airport is in between traffic peaks. As my luck would have it, we park on the very first stand at the start of pier A, which means it’s only a very short walk to arrivals and then the railway station. By 10h15 I’m already in my office again in Winterthur.

Just one more trip, and then I’m done…

Air Baltic, Business Class – Boeing B 737-300: Zürich to Riga



Today I’m on my way to Riga. And just in case you’re wondering what on earth I’m doing right now, travelling from one country to another, I should explain that this is all part of the research I am doing for my thesis.

Luckily, once I’ve been to Riga, I’ll only to make one more trip to Slovenia and then I’m done with the data collection.

Getting to the Airport

I leave the office just after four in the afternoon. The plan is to catch the 16h25 train from Winterthur, to arrive at Zürich airport at 16h38. For some reason or other, the trains to and from Winterthur are all running with a delay of about four minutes, which, admittedly, does not even qualify as a delay in some countries but in Switzerland means that words will be had…


And so I arrive at Zürich airport way behind what I’d anticipated, at 16h41. I’ve already checked in on the Air Baltic website, which works nicely. I save the boarding pass to my iPhone wallet. And contrary to SWISS, with Air Baltic the pass appears on your lock screen, so all you have to do is swipe it for it to appear.

The Lounge

Yeah, about that… In my previous post I may have mentioned that the SWISS Schengen lounge is still not open. The upshot of this, of course, is that the Aspire Lounge and also the DNATA lounge, which Air Baltic uses, have to absorb some of the SWISS passenger. As a result, more often than not, both lounges tend to be very crowded and not at all that pleasant.

Besides, departures are on runway 10 this afternoon, so I’m better off sitting somewhere on the A concourse by the window.


Boarding starts just slightly behind schedule. The first call is for Business Class passengers. It turns out that I’m the only passenger in Business Class today. Behind me, the next call is for passengers with children ‘and other disabilities’. I always find that such a funny phrase…

The Cabin

As far as commercial airliners go, by no means is the Boeing B 737-300 a spring chicken. Even so, it looks as though Air Baltic has taken very good care of this aircraft, which is fitted with the usual thin, modern seats. The configuration is 2 + 2, with the middle seat left empty in Business Class. In addition, the armrests can be folded outwards towards the middle seat, to make the aisle and the window seats a bit wider. There is a small tray table in the middle for extra storage and underneath it there are two pillows and blankets on every row in Business Class.

I am seats on the window in 1F.

The Crew

The service begins on the ground when the purser comes to welcome me aboard and offers me a welcome drink and newspapers. I order an apple juice but decline the paper, even though they have quite a selection of English language papers to choose from.

The crew on this flight are really excellent. They’re very charming and quite funny in the way they interaction with me. They’re definitely courteous but they haven’t lost their sense of humour over it.

As we push back, the purser hands me the menu for today’s flight.

The Meal

Once the fasten seatbelt sign is turned off, the service begins. The purser asks me what I’d like to drink and then brings me the glass of water I requested, together with a scented hot towel. She then brings out the tray with the meal, which today consists of:

  1. a soft cream cheese with cumin and a strawberry salsa,
  2. grilled chicken breast in a saffron sauce, served with roasted vegetables and a creamy barley risotto,
  3. a rhubarb tarte tatin,
  4. a selection from the breadbasket all to myself, served with butter.

To drink I have water.

After the meal, the cabin attendant brings me a cappuccino and a piece of chocolate cake from a pre-ordered meal, the passenger of which apparently no-showed. Once that is removed, she brings me a bottle of still water and leaves me to work.

A bit later, the purser sees me working on my laptop and promptly closes the sun blinds on the opposite side of the cabin, which is in the sun, so that I can see better what’s on my screen.


The fasten seatbelt sign remains on for most of the flight, and it’s quite bumpy all the way. Latvia looks like a lovely country from above and very different from Switzerland in that it’s very flat.

We land at 22h10, slightly behind schedule, in the middle of what appears to be Air Baltic’s evening bank of arrivals.

Getting into Town

I exit the building within ten minutes of landing, and the bus 22 into the city is already standing outside the terminal.

The journey into town will take about 25 minutes and costs EUR2. The bus stop isn’t right in front of the building, but across the road to your right as you exit arrivals.

The bus will take you to Riga’s main railway station in the centre of the city.


I think Air Baltic are a brilliant airline. Their service in Business Class is definitely superior to that of many of the legacy carriers, including SWISS or KLM. What’s more though, the crew on today’s flight were absolutely charming. I very much enjoyed this flight!

Air Baltic, Business Class – Bombardier CSeries 300: Riga to Zürich


Date: 15 January 2017
Departure: 12:20
Arrival: 13:30
Flight time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Seat: 3F, window seat on the starboard side



Riga is a lovely city. It is very generously laid out and there are a lot of parks along the river, which snakes its way through the old town before vanishing under the railway station. Of course the snow lying thick and heavy on the ground lends the whole place a very romantic, sleepy feel, which only adds to the atmosphere.

Getting to the Airport

Transport: Bus lines 22 and 222
Journey time:
20 minutes
Departs from:
13 January square, near the railway station
Riga airport, departures level
Fee: EUR1.15 or EUR2 if you pay on the bus

In Riga I am staying at the RadissonBlu Elisabeth, which is ideally located on the fringe of the old town and in close proximity to the railway station. I leave the hotel just after 9 in the morning and walk through the park along the river to the bus stop. It is a 10 minutes leisurely walk.


Terminal: Departures are on the upper level of the terminal
Counters: Dedicated Air Baltic counters
Number of counters: There is a very long row of Air Baltic check-in counters, although this morning only one Business Class counter and one Economy Class counter are open.
Web check-in:
Check-in is available on the Air Baltic website and works very well. There is no app but if you have Passbook on your mobile, you can have the boarding pass sent to you by mail and can then download it onto your phone.
Self-service check-in at the airport:
Multi-purpose check-in machines are available right next to the entrance to the terminal.


Location: At the beginning of the B dock.
Type of lounge: Contractor lounge.
Name of the lounge: Prime Class lounge.
Access: There appears to be just the one lounge at Riga airport, which serves as the common purpose lounge for all airlines serving the facility. Access is either with a Business Class ticket or status in one of the airlines’ frequent flyer programmes.
Catering: The lounge has a good selection of hot and cold dishes and drinks.
Internet: Complimentary Wifi is available, the password is indicated throughout the lounge. In addition, there are Samsung workstations with internet access.
Facilities: The lounge is a good size and there are plenty of seating options. The upper level of the lounge is the quiet zone. Toilets are available in the lounge.


Priority boarding: No.
Boarding for the flight starts pretty much on time. There is no separate call for Business Class passengers.

Today I shall be flying on the second CSeries aircraft Air Baltic received, which was delivered on 31 December 2016 and has only been in revenue service for less than two weeks.


The Cabin

2 + 3.
Pitch: 30 inches throughout the cabin. Only the overwing exit row has a larger pitch.
Width: 18 inches for the aisle and window seats, 19 inches for the middle seat on the row of three.
AC Power:
Not available.
Audio and Video: Air Baltic has the same miniature size screens installed as SWISS. Those screens really are useless, they are smaller in size than the iPhone 6 Plus and because they are angled, if you are sitting by the window on the row of three, you can barely see anything on the screen.
Connectivity: Not available.

Air Baltic’s CSeries 300 have a seating capacity of 145. In Business Class the middle seat on the row of three and the aisle seat on the row of two are kept empty, which means there are three seats per row in the Business Class cabin. With the first four rows in the cabin dedicated to Business Class, this means the forward cabin has a maximum capacity of eleven seats (there is no A or C seat on row 1).

Obviously lot of thought has gone into the design and functionality of the cabin, which has a roomy, airy feel. The seats are in a very light shade of grey, so the cabin seems very bright.

The recline of the seat is good. Interestingly enough, when you recline the back of the seat, the whole seat also moves slightly forward.

The only negative point, as far as I can tell, is that there is no cabin divider.

The Crew

The crew on this flight is friendly and welcoming like the one on the flight over the day before. There is a baby seated in the row in front of me crying his eyes out and the crew go out of their way to make the baby and his parents comfortable. In the good old days one might simply have assumed the child were possessed and would have had him exorcised. But alas, with all the political correctness going on these days people are somewhat reluctant to take such drastic measures…

Before the doors close, the crew pass through the cabin distributing the menu, newspaper and welcome drinks. There is a choice of water or orange juice.

We taxi out for departure, but there is a tick layer of snow on the wings and so we will have to deice first.

The Meal

Towel before the meal: A fresh, scented hot towel is served ahead of the meal service.
Drink before the meal:
Apple juice.
There is only one choice for the meal.
Tray service.
Type of meal:
First course:
Orange salad with pine nuts and parmiggiano shavings.
Main course:
Grilled salmon teriyaki with jasmine rice and shitake mushrooms.
Chocolate mousse.
Diet Coke.
A selection of bread from the breadbasket, served with butter.


The meal is really very good. The cheese goes surprisingly well with the orange in the first course and the main dish is quite tasty. The dessert is good too, but awfully sweet and sticky.


By the time the tray is removed, we have just under one hour to go to Zürich, so I ask for a pillow, lean back and go off to sleep…


When we land in Zürich at 13h30 we are making history, as this is the first time ever that a Bombardier CSeries 300 has ever visited the airport. And it is quite apparent. On the final approach the field on the other side of the road from the perimeter fence is lined with spotters and once we touch down, many of the ramp workers are also stopping what they are doing to take a picture of our aircraft taxiing in – including the police!


All in all, I rather enjoyed this flight. Perhaps it is just my imagination, but it seems to me that there were far less vibrations on this aircraft than on the previous CSeries flight I took with SWISS last year. But I shall have to ask our aerodynamicist at work about that.

Air Baltic, Economy Class- Boeing B 737-500: Zürich to Riga


Date: 14 January 2017
Departure: 14:20
Arrival: 17:30
Flight time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Seat: 10C, aisle on the emergency exit row



For a very long time it looked as though the Bombardier CSeries might never fly. The development of the aircraft was marred by a series of technical problems with the power plant which eventually lead to a financial crisis that had the manufacturer Bombardier taking a serious nose dive. But all’s well that ends well as they say, and this rather elegant looking aircraft is finally being rolled out with airlines across Europe. Swiss International Air Lines was the launch customer for the type in the standard dash 100 version, while Air Baltic was the launch customer for the larger dash 300 version. On Sunday 15 January 2015 the aircraft is scheduled to operate the service from Riga to Zürich. Having just submitted my term paper and with nothing much else to do, I decide to fly to Riga on Saturday to be able to make the journey back to Zürich on the new shiny bird the next day.

The flight to Riga is operated by a Boeing B 737-500 which first flew in 1999 and spent the first years of its life flying for Air France.

Getting to the Airport

Transport: Train
Journey time:
1 hour 14 minutes, changing trains at Zürich main station
Departs from:
Basel Swiss station (Basel SBB)
Zürich Flughafen

It is snowing heavily in Basel as I make my way from my flat, across the square to the station. My train is just pulling in as I come down the escalators onto the platform. Considering how few people are travelling, it is quite surprising just how long the train is.


The view outside is lovely. There is snow everywhere and everything is looking bright, despite the lack of sunshine.


Terminal: Check-in 2
Row: 3
Counters: Swissport common purpose counters
Number of counters:
There is one Business Class counter, one baggage drop-off counter and two Economy Class counters.
Web check-in:
Check-in is available on the Air Baltic website and works very well. There is no app but if you have Passbook on your mobile, you can have the boarding pass sent to you by mail and can then download it onto your phone.
Self-service check-in at the airport:
Not available.
Apparently it is possible to collect miles in Etihad’s frequent flyer programme when travelling on Air Baltic. However, you will have to contact a check-in counter to have the number of your card added to the booking. If you check-in on the Air Baltic website you can only insert a number with their own frequent flyer programme.



This is one of those rare occasions when I am travelling without access to a lounge. But never mind. Inspired by a recommendation made to me by my friend and gourmet at large, the wiry R., I park myself at the Sprüngli café right after the duty free shop on the upper level and treat myself to a cup of hot chocolate and a truffe du jour. The hot chocolate is excellent and is served with shavings of dark chocolate on top. Lovely!


It is just gone 13h30 when I see my aircraft turning the corner of the A dock. The flight will be boarding from gate A65, which is the first gate on the A dock and gives me some great photo opportunities.


Boarding starts with a slight delay at 13h50, which is hardly a problem given that the load on today’s flight is very low and probably not even quite 50%.

The Cabin

Configuration: 3 + 3
AC Power:
Not available.
Audio and Video: Not available.
Connectivity: Not available.
The first impression of the cabin is good. Everything looks clean and tidy and the aircraft seems well maintained. There are still a few traces here and there of the aircraft’s previous owner, for example the ‘secours’ sign above the emergency exit.

The pitch on the emergency exit is good. On this particular aircraft (YL-BBD) the emergency exit is on row 10 and seating is row is only available at a charge unless the aircraft is full. The A and F seats on row 10, which are the window seats, have very good legroom because there is no window seat on 9A and F, so if you are seated on one of these seats, you can really spread out. I am on 10C, the aisle seat, and the legroom here is also very good.

The seat is the typical slimline Recaro seat that has become so typical for many of the European carriers. Storage space in the seat back is fairly limited, because the seat is lacking a net on the lower half of the seat back.

The Crew

There are three cabin crew on the flight. All three of them are friendly young ladies and I suspect the way they look may have been an important factor during the recruiting process…


The Meal

Towel before the meal: A cold and pre-packed scented towel is provided on the tray.
There is a huge selection of dishes to choose from and combine on the Air Baltic website.
Tray service.
Type of meal:
First course:
Spicy salad with peppers, carrot, cucumber and dill.
Main course:
Chicken breast with roast potatoes and vegetables.
Chocolate truffe cake.
Still water.
A slice of some dark bread with a tasty and strong flavour of spices, served with butter.
Air Baltic gives you the opportunity to pre order your meal before the flight. The selection of available dishes is really quite impressive and you can combine main courses with desserts and starters as you please. The standard hot meal will cost you EUR15 for the tray, including bread, a starter, dessert and a drink. If you do not order the meal at the time of booking, you can still do so when checking in online.


As far as I am concerned, I think the meal offers good value for money. The food is tasty, the portions are good and the price is quite reasonable and certainly cheaper than dining at one of the expensive airport eateries.


The flight is very smooth and the atmosphere in the cabin feels very cosy and laid back. Of course it helps that the flight is nearly empty. Eventually we start our descent into Riga. As we come out of the clouds I can see thick layers of snow on the ground. It is also a bit misty.


After landing we taxi to the non-Schengen dock and then from there we are bussed to the Schengen part of the facility. The terminal in Riga is really quite small and does not really seem sufficiently large for the amount of traffic it handles.


Getting into Town

Transport: Bus
Journey time:
20 minutes
Departs from:
Arrivals level, just follow the signs
Riga main railway station
EUR1.15 if you buy at the ticket vending machine or EUR2 if you pay the driver.
Ticket purchase:
If you are willing to pay the higher price, you can pay the driver. Keep in mind though that not all bus stops actually have a ticket machine. However, if there is a kiosk nearby you can usually purchase your tickets there.

Air Baltic, Business Class – Boeing B 737-500: Riga to Zürich



So here we are. This is it: my last flight of 2015 will be from Riga back to Zürich. From what little I manage to see this morning, I rather like Riga. It is very modern and looks like a perfect symbiosis of Vilnius and Tallinn.


Getting to the Airport

Transport: Bus.
Fare: EUR2.- if you pay on the bus or EUR1.15 if you purchase the ticket in advance at a kiosk.
Journey time: There are two busses that serve the airport, the minibus line 222 and the normal bus line 22. The difference between the two being that the minibus does not serve all stops on the route and once it is full, it will just keep going. Thus, the journey time is between 20 and 30 minutes depending on which bus you take.
Frequency: Both bus lines run more or less every 20 minutes.
Departs from: You can pick up both busses from the stop near the main railway station. The bus stop goes by the name of 13 January.
Arrives at: Riga airport departures.



Location: Departures concourse on the first floor, counters 8 – 17.
Facilities: Web Check-in with passbook, self-service check-in machines and counter check-in.
Fast track: Dedicated Business Class counters and fast track for security.

Thank god for the fast track! As I enter the terminal building, there is a very long queue for security which reaches all the way back to the check-in counters. But fortunately, Business Class passengers can bypass the queue using the fast track, which is off to the right of the general security screening. The process here is much swifter. There are two young families travelling with very young kids in strollers, and getting everybody through security takes a moment. But other than that, it is a smooth process.



Location: Just follow the signs for the B gates. Eventually, you will reach the transfer desk for Air Baltic. The entrance to the lounge is to the right of the transfer desk.
Type of lounge: TAV Premium Class contractor lounge. From what I can tell, this is the only lounge at the airport.
Facilities: Toilets are available in the lounge, but there are no showers. There are Samsung laptops available as well.
Complimentary wifi is available. Password required.
Catering: There is a small buffet with a good selection of salads and bread. There is also a pot of something that looks like rice pudding and some very tasty looking pancakes.

The lounge is nice and fairly quiet when I arrive, presumably it would be slightly different on weekdays. I rather like that the lounge is on two levels. The upper area is the quiet zone and indeed, I am the only person there. The views from the lounge are also very good, now if only there were also some traffic to watch…



Boarding is from B10, which is a bus gate. I would say there are about 70 passengers in total on the flight today. Seated on row 1 gives me a good excuse to keep back in the queue and take some pictures of the chariot carrying me away to Zürich.


The Cabin

Configuration: 2 + 2, in Business Class the middle seat on the row of three is kept empty.
Seat: 1C, aisle. There is a tray table on the middle seat to provide some additional storage space. There are three rows of Business Class for a total of twelve seats. Of those, eight are occupied.

Just one word of caution though, especially if you are sitting on row one on the port side of the aircraft: there is no bulkhead. In other words, there is no wall to protect passengers sitting on 1A and 1C from the wind and icy temperatures this time of the year. So I would recommend you keep your coat on until boarding is completed, unless you enjoy freezing. On the up side, the nonexistent bulkhead means you have unlimited leg space.


The Crew

There are three cabin crew, two women and one man. All of them seem very young but they go about their job in a very professional and courteous way.


The Meal

Drink before the meal: Yes, I have a Coke Zero.
Type of meal: Lunch.
Service: Individual tray service.

  1. Roast beef with hummus and pickled cucumber.
  2. Chicken in a Garam Masala crust, with vegetables and potatoes.
  3. Mango cheesecake.
  4. A selection from the breadbasket.
  5. Tea or coffee with milk or cream.

As on the previous flight the day before, passengers are handed a menu while the aircraft is still on the ground. The meal is tasty enough, although the dessert on this flight is nowhere near as good as that on the flight from Stockholm.



Miraculously, I even manage to doze off for about an hour after the flight. When I awake, we are still forty minutes out of Zürich. Even so, the male flight attendant approaches me and asks me if I would like a cup of coffee before we land, explaining that I was already sleeping when he came round offering tea or coffee the first time.


And then we land. Zürich airport is fairly quiet, the last departures of the midday bank can be seen queuing for departure from runway 16 as we glide past them to touch down on runway 14.

Twenty two minutes after the landing gear makes contact with runway 14, I am already sitting on the train back to Basel. Since the timetable change early in December, the airport train to Basel now also runs via Zürich Main Station, which only further increases the journey time and make the train even more inconvenient.


And so another year of travel draws to an end.

Air Baltic, Business Class – Bombardier Q400: Stockholm to Riga



In Stockholm I am staying at the Hotel J in Nacka Strand on the outskirts of the city. I like the Hotel J very much, and over the years I have kept coming back here for a short but quiet weekend. Particularly during the winter time it is nice to curl up with a book near the open fire in the main building.

Getting to the Airport

Transport: Boat ferry and train.
Fare: SEK300 per person for the Arlanda Express train if you are travelling as a couple. The ticket for the ferry costs SEK39 and is valid on all ferries and busses within zone A. Although in this particular case, the ticket is included in the hotel package I booked.
Journey time: By ferry it is about 25 to 30 minutes from Nacka Strand to the city centre. From there it is another 20 to 25 minutes on foot to the central railway station, through the main shopping area and then another 20 minutes on the Arlanda Express from the city to the terminus at Arlanda North.
Frequency: During the wintertime the ferry to Nacka Strand runs roughly once an hour at 03 minutes past the hour. If you are in a hurry, alternatively you can take the bus from Nacka Strand to Slussen, which takes roughly 15 minutes. From Slussen you can either walk or take the underground train for two stops to the central station. The Arlanda Express runs every 15 minutes.
Departs from: Nacka Strand ferry.
Arrives at: Arlanda North.



Location: Terminal 5. Departures are located on the first floor. Check-in counters 71 – 90. Check-in for Air Baltic is done by SAS in Stockholm. Counter 90 is the Business Class counter.
Facilities: Web Check-in with passbook, or airport check-in at the counter or self-service machine.
Fast track: Dedicated Business Class counters and fast track for security.

I have already checked in for my flight. You will receive a reminder from Air Baltic by mail and SMS as soon as the flight opens for check-in. There is a dedicated fast track for security which, apparently, is only available to SAS and its Star Alliance partners. However, when I arrive at the counter for the boarding pass check, the guy tells me that I may use the fast track if I am travelling in Air Baltic Business Class.


The security check will spit you out by the entrance to the large duty free store. If you are not interested in shopping, there is an exit on the left, just before the duty free area. But alas, it is probably not entirely by coincidence that the exit is blocked by trolleys, thus obliging all passengers to walk through the store.

The Lounge

Location: As you exit the duty free store, turn left and head for gate 1. To the left of the gate you will find lifts and stairs taking you up to the entrance of the lounge on the fourth floor.
Type of lounge: SAS Business Class lounge.
Facilities: Toilets are available in the lounge, but there are no showers.
Complimentary wifi is available. Apparently there is a password, but when I logged in, none was required.
Catering: There is a large buffet with a good selection of salads, crudités and bread. There is also a pot of tasty potato and leek soup, tea and coffee making facilities and a nice selection of cookies.

The lounge is really nice. It has been a while since I was here last and in the meantime the SAS lounges have had a complete make over. Of course it also helps that the lounge is fairly empty and quiet when I arrive.



Ah yes. This is where things look as though they may start to go horribly wrong. Boarding for my flight is expected to start at 14h45 for a 15h15 departure. However, when 15h00 rolls on and still nothing happens, I figure there may be a slight delay. Just a short while later the gate agents informs us that the aircraft suffered a bird strike on the approach into Stockholm and that therefore the propeller and engine will need to be checked first, before the aircraft is cleared to fly again. Eventually, boarding starts at 15h50, although we still have to wait for the mechanics to produce the documents before they can release the aircraft for the flight.


During our stay on board, the crew do an excellent job of keeping us informed about the flight’s current status. At some point one of the flight attendants comes and asks me if she can bring me a drink while we wait. She also brings me a blanket in case I am starting to feel cold, what with he door still open.

Eventually we depart at 16h48, with a delay of slightly more than 90 minutes. Our flight time to Riga is given as 55 minutes.

The Cabin

Configuration: 2 + 2, although in Business Class only one of the seats on the row of two is occupied.
Seat: 2A, window. This is pretty much the standard seat most if not all carriers have installed on the Q400. What I like about the seat is that it allows you to sit very upright. I do not have any information about the width or pitch of the seat. All I can say though, is that on 2A there is plenty of space to move around, and I am even able to cross my legs without any significant contortions. There are 2.5 rows of Business Class, for a total of three seats. Apart from me there is only one other passengers seated on 1A.

There is only a row 1 on the port side of the aircraft. On the starboard side row 2 is the first row and also offers quite a lot of legroom because of the emergency exit.


The Crew

There are two young female cabin crew working the flight today and I think they are doing a really smashing job. They are taking good care of the passengers, handling those who are upset at the prospect of missing their connection in Riga. Nothing seems to be a problem for them and they seem very competent and in control.

The Meal

Welcome drink on the ground: Orange juice.
Hot towel: Scented hot towels are handed out before the meal. Remember, this is a flight of only 55 minutes!
Type of meal: Late lunch.
Service: Individual tray service.

  1. Goat’s cheese in a dill crust with grilled peppers and frisée salad.
  2. Chicken satay with pickled cucumber and carrot on a bed of frisée salad, served with a balsamico vinaigrette.
  3. Chocolate and pecan cake with caramel topping.
  4. A selection from the breadbasket.
  5. Tea or coffee.

Quite surprisingly, a menu is handed out before the meal. The service is very polished and I notice that the crew do not hand me anything directly but serve everything from a small round tray. The quality of the meal is very good and the dessert in particular is really to die for. It is just so rich and sweet. Just how I like it.

At the end of the meal the flight attendant comes to inquire if I fancy tea or coffee. She tells me they have black tea, rose tea, green tea and a special Christmas mix which she can highly recommend. I feel like a bit of a cad telling her I would prefer a cup of coffee. But even then she manages to surprise me and asks me if I prefer milk or cream in my coffee. A short while later she returns with the coffee and a bowl of sugar cubes and a small jug of milk.



A short while later we start our descent into Riga. Probably because we are running late our aircraft is parked right next to the terminal. So we can just walk the short distance across the apron to the terminal.


Getting into Town

Transport: Bus.
Fee: EUR2.- if you buy the ticket on the bus or EUR1.15 if you buy it at the kiosk. There are ticket machines, but those are only for day cards and not for single-trip journeys.
Journey time: Roughly 30 minutes.
Departs from: Opposite the terminal building. Upon exiting arrivals turn right and follow the signs for public transport. Cross the road and you should reach the bus stop.
Arrives: If your hotel is in the centre of town, you can alight at the stop after the national library, on the other side of the river. From there it is really just a very short walk into the city. Alternatively, you can stay on the bus until the terminus at the railway station, which is another 10 minutes journey.