Germanwings A319 Best Seat

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.

FACT FILE

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

CONTACT Germanwings.com

Scott Carey


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Germanwings A319 Best Seat

FIRST IMPRESSIONS I arrived at Stansted via a bus transfer from the medium stay car park at 0630. I had already checked in, selected my seat and printed off my boarding pass online so I went straight to security.

To reach security I walked through the Germanwings check-in and bag drop area which is located at Zone E. The area is small and was quiet at this time in the morning with around ten people queuing. There were four desks open, two for checking in, one for express bag drop and one for online check in only, there were no automated check in machines.

I had pre packed my toiletries before I left, a good job considering you have to pay £1 for the little plastic toiletry bags here (well this is Ryanair’s UK base airport). Security is semi-automated with large trays working around a conveyor belt system. I was welcomed by the cheeriest security guard I had ever encountered at an airport and I was through in no time (shoes on, jacket off, laptop out).

Stansted has a good selection of shops, bars, cafes and restaurants airside including a Frankie and Bennies, Wetherspoons, Yo Sushi, Starbucks and Pret a Manger as well as high end clothes shops and all the usual airport chains. It was busy airside and I got in the long queue to buy a coffee from Starbucks. I found a seat and waited for my flight to be called, the boarding time on my ticket stated that gate seven would open at 0730.

BOARDING I took the transit to gates 1-39 at 0720, alighting at the first stop two minutes later for gates 1-19. Going up one escalator there is a Costa, World Duty Free and WH Smiths and behind me were gates 1-9.

On entering the departures area at 0730 an announcement was made that there would be a 15 minute delay to boarding so I took a seat by the window to read before being approached by a staff member of the airport to ask me some survey questions about the terminal. I obliged and was soon called to the gate at 0755. I boarded via an air bridge and was in my seat by 0805.

THE SEAT I had pre booked my seat as part of the Best Seat fare and secured seat 1F. This was a window seat and offered great extra legroom as well as early disembarkation on arrival. I had another passenger sat next to me in seat 1E even though 1D was empty and he could have moved to allow us both to share the added space of a free middle seat. However the flight was short and I had plenty of room so I didn’t want to cause a fuss over this.  The added legroom also allowed me to easily pass in to the aisle without disturbing anyone.

Upholstered in grey leather there is no padding of note so the seat is very hard, especially on the back. The tray tables are not spring loaded so clatter back into place untidily.

On board this A319 (to see a seat plan, click here), the only aircraft that Germanwings currently operates, there were ten rows of Best Seat and the rest economy.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? Any seat in row one is certainly preferable 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, even though it was empty on the flight.

THE FLIGHT We took off at 0815 and food was brought around at 0840. 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 ham roll and one drink of tea, coffee, a soft drink or mineral water.

I chose the ham roll, which was a small sesame seeded ciabbata like roll filled with processed ham and a herby cream cheese spread which was delicious although not very nutritious. I also had a coffee that came with cream and sugar and was passable. If I had known it would be so small an offering I would have had something more substantial in the terminal. Rubbish was promptly collected and I settled in for the flight.

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.

ARRIVAL We landed at 1025 and I was the first off of the plane and onto the bus back to the terminal. I was through passport control by 1045 and went straight down onto the S-Bahn platform from the terminal building where my next train to the central station was in 14 minutes.

VERDICT Not the most comfortable seat I have flown but a perfectly acceptable low cost service, with the added legroom making things even more manageable.

FACT FILE

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

CONTACT Germanwings.com

Scott Carey


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