airBaltic has been building a reputation as a discount airline connecting the Baltics with Western, Northern and Central Europe. To my surprise, though, the route map only has a few places east of Riga; most destinations are west or north of the city.
On the website, airBaltic seems really rigorous about the 8kg carry-on limit requirement, so I was adamant I would get an electronic boarding pass and argue my way into the cabin if necessary.
This was a windy day, with gusts up to 35 mph and lots of rain, so I wasn’t sure if that flight would make it on time. Not to worry, though, as airBaltic is one of the world’s most punctual airlines. I had no trouble checking in online (I had booked through an OTA) and I walked straight through security; there was not even any ID necessary at Riga Airport.
Needless to say, at the announced boarding time the gate agents opened the door and let us walk into the little Bombardier Q400 (really?) My bag was likely the smallest and lightest of all the carry-ons and nobody seemed to worry about that strict policy anymore. The plane would only be about 25% full, so there was plenty of overhead bin space (even though the bins are tiny on this aircraft).
Take-off was planned for 3.30PM that day and we took off right at that minute. Riga Airport isn’t busy and if you want to take off you just roll up to the runway. The pilot announced lots of turbulence on this windy day, but there wasn’t any going up and given the little load we went up straight like a rocket.
There was no drinks service during this flight.
Landing was into a very strong wind and we kept maneuvering into the runway alignment. We also seemingly landed at very high speed, though I never had the impression the pilot even gave it a second thought.
We disembarked at the tiny airport at Vilnius, which is a bare-bones affair – you walk out of your plane straight into the arrivals hall.
This almost felt like flying private; security was fast and minimal, I did not interact once with a human soul, I had plenty of space and an exciting roller coaster landing. What else could you ask for?