Route: Lyon-Gran Canaria
Heading to the island of Gran Canaria for a week of winter sunshine, I picked up a good one-way deal from Vueling, the low-cost carrier that’s part of the IAG family alongside British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and LEVEL: 49.99€ for the ticket, plus 15€ for a checked bag.
For the price, it’s hard to beat.
Seat and Amenities
Yes, Vueling’s new seats resemble ironing boards. But they’re very spacious ironing boards, and even my 6 foot 3-inch frame had more than adequate legroom even at 29” pitch. That’s something that feels miraculous to say, but the engineering of modern slimline seating means that if airlines are going to pitch seats at 29” then at least we can be less uncomfortable with it.
I believe these are the Recaro SL3510 models that I’d previously seen on easyJet, but they seemed markedly narrower — or, rather, the aisle seemed markedly wider.
Since the early days of the A320 family some airlines chose narrower seats and wider aisles on the relatively wider A320 fuselage, and it seems that unless I’m mistaken Vueling has done the same here.
Regardless of the width, the flight was still pretty comfortable given that I had the entire row to myself, but with three people in the row it would have been a bit cramped on either side.
The seats are also “pre-reclined”, which is of course airline speak for “don’t recline”, but I found the angle at which they come installed to be pretty comfortable, to the extent that I got a couple of hours of sleep on the flight.
Customer service on board
If Ryanair is cheap and nasty and easyJet is cheap and cheerful, Vueling’s brand is cheap and… disinterested, perhaps? I’ve never experienced an enthusiastic, smiling Vueling crew, although they’ve never been actively unpleasant, and this time was the same.
The crew passed through with the trolleys a couple of times, but on this mostly empty evening flight, we were pretty much left alone, which is rather how I like it.
Of all the Euro-LCCs, I find Vueling’s menu to be one of the most boring and uninspired. Where easyJet has on-brand-orange Aperol Spritzes, Vueling has… a few interchangeable sandwiches and the usual long-life shelf-stable ham or hummus boxes. The one nice option on the menu is their ginger lemonade, but it was out of stock at the end of the day.
For an airline from the home of tapas to have just the same old same old, it’s not great, and the price for water is truly insane: 2.10€ for 33cl. Forewarned, I bought a couple of litre bottles in the terminal but was disappointed to see nowhere to refill reusable bottles (or a bottle you happen to have bought for the flight but drunk during the wait).
Inflight Internet was supposed to be available on this flight — indeed, it was marked as such on the side of the aircraft — but the system was either not working or Vueling doesn’t turn it on for flights over water. Given the amount of the route over France and Spain, however, it seems unlikely that the latter was the issue.
Instead, I settled down with some downloaded Netflix on my iPad before falling asleep for a couple of hours. With the four-hour flight, I was grateful to have USB sockets underneath the seat to plug into and would have been even more grateful if I’d been using my phone rather than a tablet to watch movies. (Why these sockets under the seat rather than somewhere visible, though, on brand new seats, remains beyond me.)
One benefit of a night flight from Lyon is that the checkin and security processes were entirely queueless, although the post-security T2 shopping area was pretty quiet and with not a lot of amenities, especially for food. Pick up a sandwich from the Paul in arrivals or bring snacks from home.
Route: Rome to Edinburgh
Spanish low cost carrier Vueling commenced service in 2004 and has grown to today be Spain’s second largest airline. The airline serves over 100 destinations around Europe, the UK , Middle East and Africa utilizing a fleet of A319/320/321 aircraft.
Perhaps best known for its poor on time performance and delays rather than its value for money, I was not surprised to at first be delayed 40 minutes. We did however made up time in the air and arrived as scheduled.
Check in service at Rome was excellent – very efficient and plenty of staff which is a rarity these days. Upon boarding and until after takeoff ‘easy listening’ music is played which adds a bit of a nice touch but if you wanted to start snoozing before take off you might find this irritating.
Seat and Amenities
The aircraft on this flight would have to be one of the oldest and the thick seats were a tell tale of this. In a time where the seats are getting thinner to allow more leg room, this flight had comfort but limited legroom. The seat back pocket has a metal rod in it which dug in to my knees when the seat in front reclined so for someone tall, this would have been very uncomfortable.
No blankets, pillow or amenities provided.
Customer service on board
Service was efficient and what you would expect from a crew operating a buy on board meal service.
All food and drinks are buy on board and selections may vary on different routes Currency accepted (notes): euros, pounds sterling, US dollars and Danish kroner. Only euro coins will be accepted. Change will be given in euros. Credit cards also accepted.
No in flight entertainment but there is an on board magazine
Overall, a fairly non remarkable, standard flight on a low cost carrier. I would certainly have no hesitation to fly them again and if you get a good fare they are certainly great value for money.
As with any low cost carrier ensure you read the fine print, pre purchase checked baggage, make sure your carry on luggage fits the dimensions they state and keep it to weight.