Tried & Tested

Vueling A320 economy

20 Jan 2012 by Anonymous

CHECK-IN I arrived at Barcelona El Prat Airport’s Terminal 1 at 0950, after a smooth 25-minute ride from my Las Ramblas-located hotel on a sunny Saturday morning. After loading my suitcase onto a trolley, I entered the Ricardo Bofill-designed facility, which opened in 2009, and scrutinised the information board for the zone of Vueling’s counters – 401-414.

As there was only a couple ahead of me in the queue, processing the flight VY8710 was swift. I was asked to show my Schengen visa.

After clearing security, I took the escalator down to the departure hall, which features a large retail area exuding the feel of a town plaza, ringed by shops sporting famous Spanish brands such as Adolfo Dominguez, Zara and Desigual and various restaurants and bars. Not having had breakfast, I was attracted to an Italian-style eatery and ordered an unusual square shaped pizza, consisting of ham and cheese. Being quite large, I consumed only two thirds of the item. With still some time to spare, I browsed through the racks of the hip but pricey Desigual boutique.

The store was just steps way from my assigned gate where a line was already beginning to form at 1045 for the 1140 departure. I was grateful for this as I was nursing a very stiff shoulder. I joined the growing crowd, and at 1110, we were allowed to head for the aircraft.

BOARDING Families (and there were several of them) were permitted to lead the way, followed by the rest of us. With a number of child passengers, including some quite vocal toddlers, I had a feeling I wouldn’t get in much naptime on this two-hour and 20 minute-flight. We didn’t leave on time, waiting for some customers who didn’t show up. We finally pushed off about 1200. The pilot, at least, went on the PA to apologise in English and Spanish.

THE SEAT As Vueling is a low-cost carrier, the layout on the A320-200 aircraft, which makes up its fleet, is the standard one-class configuration. Seats are in the 3-3 (ABC-DEF) layout and reach a maximum of 180. The upholstery appeared to have seen better days, with the seat in front of me sporting several tears. Several others looked rather beaten up as well.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE I was in 11C along the aisle. If I had asked for rows 12 and 13, I would have received just a bit more leg space as these were by the emergency exits. But I felt fine where I was. There was only one washroom behind the cockpit and two at the end of the aircraft.

THE FLIGHT Sandwiches, chips, beer and beverages were on sale for those who needed them. As I was still heavy from that unusually shaped pizza, I just purchased a bottle of mineral water.

As expected, the children would not be fettered to their seats, and three of them roamed the narrow aisle with a parent in tow, generally getting in the way but the relaxed looking attendants didn’t seem to mind. I returned from using the loo to find a little blonde stranger enjoying my seat. He needed a bit of coaxing to vacate it. The journey was generally smooth with hardly any turbulence to mar it.

ARRIVAL The late departure resulted in a late arrival, 1430 instead of 1400. This gave friends who were picking me up at Vienna International Airport a chance to grab a bite they told me when we finally met up.

VERDICT I expected no frills and didn’t get any. The crew wore an efficient air but were friendly enough. The seats really need to be refreshed.

Fact file

  • PLANE TYPE Airbus A320
  • SEAT PITCH 30 inches
  • SEAT WIDTH 28 inches
  • SEAT RECLINE two inches
  • PRICE An online return trip fare in mid-February is from US$140.

Margie T Logarta

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