July 25, 2024

Flight review: Riga to Amsterdam with airBaltic

THE FLIGHT: I flew Economy class on an Airbus A220-300 on airBaltic’s flight BT619/KL3092 from Riga International Airport (RIX) to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS).

THE CHECK-IN: The day before travelling home from AmberSky 2024, I received an email reminding me to check in for my flight. I duly did so using the KLM app and it was a straightforward, two-minute task.

I booked my journey between Newcastle and Riga with the Dutch flag carrier KLM and the legs between Amsterdam and the Latvian capital were operated by airBaltic.

I downloaded the boarding passes to my phone’s wallet and travelled to Riga International Airport about two and a half hours before my flight. Only a handful of people were ahead of me in the queue to drop bags, meaning it took five minutes.

The airBaltic staff member who checked my bag was professional and polite. After checking my suitcase, she asked me to place my cabin bag on the scale to be weighed. At slightly over 11kg, it was more than three kilograms over the weight limit for an airBaltic flight.

Before travelling to Riga, I had checked the hand baggage restrictions for KLM flights but hadn’t thought about doing so for journeys on Air Baltic. My cabin bag was within the size and weight restrictions for KLM flights. Thankfully, the airBaltic staff member at the check-in desk informed me that it would be okay to travel with my cabin bag this time but warned that it could not be guaranteed on future flights. She politely told me that I should comply with each carrier’s baggage restrictions, not just with the airline with which I had purchased my ticket.

Riga International Airport is a modern building with decent shops and cafés. It’s a pleasant place to stroll around ahead of a flight. Signage is clear and seating by the departure gate proved a good location to read before boarding.

BOARDING: My departure gate was changed from 16 to 8 approximately 90 minutes before the flight. Displays in the terminal communicated that effectively and there was a public announcement to that effect too.

When the flight was called, an orderly queue formed and a uniformed security staff member checked passports against boarding passes. I then scanned my boarding pass and walked out onto the tarmac to the nearby Airbus A220-300.

Leather seat aboard an airBaltic Airbus A220-300 about to fly between Riga and Amsterdam.
Leather seat aboard an airBaltic Airbus A220-300 about to fly between Riga and Amsterdam.

THE SEAT: My seat, 8D, was one of three seats on the starboard side of an aisle with grey, patterned carpet. The sleek, contemporary cabin had a three-two configuration, with just two seats on the port side. Green mood lighting illuminated the light grey cabin as we awaited take-off.

With a 30-inch pitch, the seats felt roomy for a flight with a duration of just two hours and five minutes. The grey leather seat felt comfortable throughout the journey.

The seatback in front of me had two slots for drinks, a fold-down tray and held the Air Baltic inflight magazine, safety card and an air sickness bag

I noticed that a curtain between rows four and five demarcated the Business and Economy cabins. However, my choice of seat felt perfectly acceptable following three busy days at a well-organised trade show focusing on onboard retail.

A compact screen above my seat displayed safety information.

The cabin proved quiet and the flight was uneventful – just what I wanted on a homeward journey on a Friday evening.

Display inside Air Baltic's Airbus A220-300 flight on the route between Riga and Amsterdam Schiphol.
Display inside airBaltic’s Airbus A220-300 flight on the route between Riga and Amsterdam Schiphol.

THE SERVICE The airBaltic cabin crew were courteous and professional. I was welcomed aboard and my cabin bag slotted without problem into the overhead storage bin.

I took my seat and read throughout the flight to Amsterdam. In addition to destination-related features, the Baltic Outlook inflight magazine contained information about items available for sale. That included the food and drink being offered aboard the flight.

Having enjoyed a drink in the airport terminal, I was not tempted by any of the snacks or beverages being offered and politely declined anything each time the crew came through the cabin.

THE VERDICT: Flying with airBaltic proved a positive way of travelling between Riga and Amsterdam. The aircraft was comfortable and modern and the flight departed and arrived on time – I’d happily travel with airBaltic again. I would, of course, be sure to check the airline’s baggage restrictions before doing so.

airbaltic.com; klm.co.uk