Tried & Tested

Croatia Airlines A320 economy

1 Aug 2013 by Tom Otley

Background: Croatia Airlines flies daily during the summer season direct from London Heathrow to Split (the rest of the year you fly via Zagreb).

The airline has an Airbus fleet of A320s (four of these) configured for either 162 or 164 passengers and A319 (three of these) configured in two classes for 144 passengers, as well as the Dash 8 Q400 (six of these) for 76 passengers.

First impressions: We arrived at London Heathrow Terminal 1 at 0835 for our 1050 departure. This was a holiday flight ready for a two-week flotilla sailing holiday with Activity Yachting. I had booked the flights separately from the sailing holiday. The previous day I had attempted to check-in online, and when I failed, had rung Croatia Airlines ticket office and been told there was an internet problem but that we were definitely on the flight and should therefore go to the airport to check-in.

Check in for the flight was the Star Alliance economy check-in at Zone H. This is used by all the Star Alliance carriers and has a business class check-in at one end. There was a group of passengers checking in for a LOT flight there, including Jerzy Janowicz who had been beaten by Andy Murray the previous night in the Wimbledon semi-final.

He was smiling and happy to pose for photos, so I took some pictures of him with the two children, and after half an hour we got to the front of the queue and checked in. There were also apologies for the length of the queue and we were told this was because there had been an IT problem which had not only prevented us from checking in online but had also slowed down all the check-in for the flights since the previous day.

Security was very quick and we then went airside which was busy. We found somewhere to sit and waited for our flight to be called, which it was at 1015 from Gate 5B which you access via a circuitous route past the BA International Lounge.

There is a Costa Coffee outlet by the gate, so when it was announced there would be a further delay we sat there and had some drinks. We were kept informed the whole times, and then began to board by seat row number via an airbridge.

The seat: Once on board we could see that there were three rows of business class, with the middle seat closed off, and then the rest of the aircraft was economy seating. Rows 10 and 11 are the emergency seats, and omitting row 13 it them went back to row 28 in a ABC-DEF configuration. For a seatplan, click here.

There were four of us so we sat in seats C – DEF.  There was a decent amount of leg room and I put my carry-on bag under the seat in front. Each seat was upholstered in blue and there was a pocket for putting magazines in.

Take off took place late as well, not until 1150, though the captain kept us informed of the reasons and assured us that we would make up some of the time.

The flight: The flight time was around two hours, and during that time we were served a snack of bread sticks and some kind of dip, along with drinks, both hot and cold as well as soft and alcoholic.

The service was fine, if a little impersonal, but then it was a very busy flight. Entertainment played on the overhead screens but I don’t think anyone watched it, even supposing they had headphones that fitted the socket in the arms of the seats.

It’s my first flight in quite a while where everyone on board was going on holiday, and what was striking is the amount of people who had brought their own electrical entertainment on board – all the children had devices, and most of the adults.

We made up a little time and arrived only 25 minutes late. Split airport is fairly small so we disembarked to a bus and then were quickly off again and queuing for immigration which was quick. The bags appeared about 15 minutes later.

Verdict: A great flight. A slight delay but we were kept informed at all times and the return flight two weeks later was on time and just as consistent. I’d have no hesitation in booking with Croatia Airlines again.

croatiaairlines.com

Tom Otley

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