Vueling Airlines: My First Flight
As I was already in Iceland, I figured I would spend a few more days in continental Europe, as I was already halfway there — and as I have been to Spain but never to Barcelona, I thought that I would go there. While I was there, I would also travel to Andorra and Portugal — two more countries to which I have never been.
Vueling Airlines: My First Flight
At the time which I booked my flight, only two airlines had nonstop flights from Reykjavik to Barcelona: Norwegian Air International and Vueling Airlines — and the latter of the two ultra-low-cost airlines had the less expensive airfare. Although both flight were overnight flights, the Vueling Airlines flight was timed so that I did not have to book a hotel room for that night; whereas the Norwegian Air flight arrived at 1:00 in the morning — or some inconvenient hour at which a hotel stay would have been necessary but not worth it.
Vueling Airlines ranked ninth out of 15 low-cost carriers in the world back in October of 2014 — and I have flown as a passenger on such ultra-low-cost airlines as Ryanair, Tiger Airways and AirAsia without any incident — so I thought that purchasing a ticket from Vueling Airlines would be a good bet.
Based in Barcelona, the hub airports of Vueling Airlines include Barcelona–El Prat Airport and Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport in Rome.
I arrived at Keflavik International Airport on a cold, dreary and rainy day in plenty of time to return the car I rented; and only about 20 people or so were queued ahead of me — but no one was working at the counter just yet; so no one was being checked in for the flight.
The photograph shown above was the line after I already had checked in for the flight…
…probably because I only saw one employee working behind the counter.
The lines did not stop at the counter…
…as once I passed through the security checkpoint at the airport, I found this long queue at the gate to board the airplane — and very few seats were available in this area.
The queue seemed to go on forever — but boarding was primarily by first come, first served and not by zone.
This Airbus A320 was the airplane which transported me and fellow passengers to Barcelona — and it arrived at the gate later than scheduled.
Despite the long queue, boarding the aircraft was surprisingly not all that slow. I was assigned to the middle seat in this row.
The seats were rather thin — as in slimline — with very little padding.
Note that the seats also do not recline, as no buttons to recline the seats are visible.
The head rest on each seat was covered with an advertisement pertaining to joining Vueling Club; and yes — unlike many ultra-low-cost airlines — you can earn miles in a frequent flier loyalty program for flights on which you traveled. As International Airlines Group — which owns majority stakes in British Airways and Iberia, amongst other entities — owns almost 91 percent of Vueling Airlines, you can earn Avios on qualifying flights which are operated by Vueling Airlines.
Two views of the backs of seats reveal a seat pocket, tray table, and coat hook. Leg room was not exactly generous, either.
Opening the tray table reveals an interesting — but basic — clamshell design. It was also rather small when compared to tray tables aboard the airplanes operated by many other airlines.
On this particular flight, the members of both the flight crew and ground staff were incredibly lenient with passengers who carried baggage aboard the increasingly crowded airplane.
Note how huge were some of the bags which were stuffed in the overhead storage compartment. The boarding process was actually delayed because someone brought an obviously oversized bag aboard the airplane.
The control panels above the seats — which included the lights and blowing air — worked well.
The doors to the overhead storage bins were being closed as they became full and practically overstuffed — but as I was in the middle seat with all seats in my row already occupied, I could not get photographs of all of the leftover food and other trash which littered the floor from the previous flight. The airplane was obviously not thoroughly cleaned prior to boarding — which I found to be rather gross — likely because it arrived at the gate later than scheduled.
A card with information pertaining to the use of a power supply system to recharge portable electronic devices during flight.
The front and back of the safety instructions card illustrated what needs to be done aboard the airplane at all times — as well as during certain emergencies.
As a reliable rule of thumb, food almost always looks better when it is being advertised than it does once you actually are able to eat it. The photographs of the overpriced food in this menu did not appeal to me at all.
Needless to say — but I will say it anyway — I did not order anything. I simply was not interested.
I do get the play on words printed on this motion sickness bag — but still: what?!?
Passengers appeared to be miserably uncomfortable in these seats during the flight. I know I was not comfortable after sitting in one of these seats for at least 4.5 hours, which includes the time prior to departure from the gate.
Thank goodness that the morning sun was rising in the distance — meaning that this flight would soon be over.
The cost of basic airfare for my flight was $143.26, which was not expensive — but not all that cheap, either. If I wanted to check a bag, the cost would have been $21.18. Expect to pay ancillary fees for anything extra which you may want — including seat assignments.
The duration of the flight was approximately four hours and 20 minutes — which was four hours too long for me; and the airplane departed from the gate 47 minutes later than originally scheduled. I found the seats to be amongst the most uncomfortable of any of the airlines worldwide; and I had a difficult time trying to sleep. I did not use any of the lavatories aboard the aircraft; so I cannot comment on that part of the experience.
During the process of booking a ticket, I encountered an issue with the process of selecting a seat. Please read this article which I wrote for additional information about that issue — as well as comments by readers of The Gate pertaining to their experiences with Vueling Airlines.
Although my experience with Vueling Airlines was not terrible — actually, it was mediocre at best — it falls just short of me recommending that airline. Travel on Vueling Airlines only when necessary. Do not expect much in terms of customer service from any of the employees of the airline, as it was not exactly memorable in a positive way; and certainly do not expect any reasonable comfort throughout the flight.
All photographs ©2018 by Brian Cohen.