FIRST IMPRESSIONS I arrived at the Stuttgart terminal building via taxi at 0530 for my 0650 departure. The airport is one long building split into four ‘terminals’ which are more like what could be considered zones, as they all lead through to the same departures area and are all part of the same building.
The Germanwings check-in area is located in zone three of terminal two and is set back one row of shops from the entrance. The terminal is fairly cramped once you get past the vast entrance areas of terminal one and four, which looked very pretty at this time of the year as all the pillars were wrapped in fairy lights, making them look like tree branches.
The check-in area was quiet at this time of the morning and, unlike Stansted (to see a review of the outbound flight, click here), had five computerised self check-in kiosks which, although Germanwings branded, also allowed check-in for several other airlines such as Lufthansa, Swiss and BA. There were also five staff on hand for check-in and bag drop and opposite them was a booking and ticketing desk.
I passed through the two-lane security channel in the Germanwings area but if the terminal is busy you could just as easily go right to the terminal one security area, which was better staffed and more open. However security did not take long (shoes on, laptops in) and I made my way to find a departures board.
There is very little on offer on the cramped airside of the terminal so I made my way towards the gate and settled into the nearest cafe as I had a bit of time to kill. I ordered a cappuccino, which was tiny and cost €4.10; a freshly squeezed orange juice will set you back €4.50, and waited for my 0620 boarding time.
BOARDING After a little bit of searching I went down a flight of stairs to gates 120-125, my flight was boarding at gate 124. Once through passport control there are toilets, hot and cold vending machines and a large seating area which was very busy. Boarding commenced at 0625, I was on the freezing cold bus (don’t touch the hand rails!) by 0635 and in my seat by 0645.
THE SEAT I had pre-booked seat 1B as part of Germanwing’s Best Seat fare. This was a middle seat and offered great extra legroom as well as early disembarkation on arrival. On this A319 aircraft (to see a seat plan, click here), there were ten rows of Best Seat which were roughly 50 per cent full, although all row one seats were occupied, and the economy section looked 90 per cent if not fully booked.
Upholstered in grey leather there is no padding of note so the seat is very hard, especially on the back, and quite narrow. The tray tables are not spring loaded so clatter back into place untidily.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? Any seats in row one are certainly the best seats but will cost extra as part of the Best Seat concept. If given the choice I would have opted for an aisle seat but these were unavailable when I tried to pre-book.
THE FLIGHT We pulled back at 0700 and took off into the still dark morning soon after. Food was brought round at 0725. In the Best and Flex fare brackets a voucher for a Happy Picnic meal is included in the fare (€6.00 when purchased on board).
This consisted of a cheese or turkey roll and one drink of tea, coffee, a soft drink or mineral water. I had the cheese roll which consisted of a rustic seeded ciabatta like roll with two slices of bland cheese and lots of butter and wished I had gone for the other option. To drink I had a 0.20l bottle of still mineral water.
The Sky Bistro offers sandwiches, alcohol and soft drinks as well as other snacks and a small selection of duty free. The meal deal consists of a sandwich, a beer or soft drink and a free cereal bar for €6.50.
After the rubbish was collected I dozed off for the remainder of the flight, woken by the announcement of our descent at 0705.
ARRIVAL We landed at 0720 and disembarked by 0730 via an air bridge. From here we went down one escalator to the terminal transit which took two minutes to arrive. It was a short walk to security from here and border control was empty apart from our flight. I used the e-passport gate regardless and was landside in no time.
VERDICT Not the most comfortable seat I have flown but a perfectly acceptable low cost service with no issues to hold me up on either leg.
PLANE TYPE A319
SEAT CONFIGURATION 3-3
SEAT PITCH 32”
PRICE At the time of writing a Best Seat for a midweek flight in January on the Germanwings website started at £39.99 each way