Intra-Europe Business Class almost always qualifies as lame. You receive lounge access and a meal, but you get the same Economy Class seating with a blocked middle. Brussels Airlines Business Class provides the same mediocre seat. But the service impressed me on this short flight to Stockholm.
Note: this post is part of a longer series about my trip to Europe last November. Click here for the introductory post and trip report index.
Brussels Airlines (SN) Flight 2309
- Sunday, November 11, 2018
- Depart: Brussels Airport (BRU), Terminal A, 19:10, 5m early
- Arrive: Stockholm – Bromma Airport (BMA), 21:10, 15m early
- Duration: 2 hours 0 minutes
- Seat: 1A
- Equipment: Airbus A319
I originally booked this flight because it was scheduled to operate with a Sukhoi Superjet. (Cityjet wet leased four SSJ-95s to Brussels Airlines). Unfortunately, ongoing problems with the aircraft caused Brussels Airlines to switch this route to an A319. Boooo…
Check-In and Boarding
I arrived about 3 hours prior to flight time following my quick walking tour of Brussels. Fortunately, I could check in online, so I headed straight to security and the lounges. All Brussels Airlines Business Class passengers receive access to The Loft by Brussels Airlines, a solid business class lounge. After checking out both it and the Priority Pass Diamond Lounge, I arrived at the gate about 10 minutes before scheduled boarding. Shortly thereafter, the agent announced that she’d begin boarding with Business Class and Star Gold in a few minutes. Annoyingly, though, boarding began with no further announcement or priority for either. I ended up near the back of the line – and found the overhead for Row 1 completely full by the time I boarded. Grrr….
Brussels Airlines Business Class – Seating and Interior
On this route, Brussels Airlines offers just four Business Class seats in a single row (Row 1). You’ll find the all too familiar (and dreaded) Recaro slimlines found on intra-Europe flights.
At least the black leather seats looks nice. The headrests also feature the Brussels Airlines “little b” logo.
Row 1 is, of course, a bulkhead seat, and I wasn’t a fan of this setup. The bulkhead significantly restricts legroom in this case. Honestly, I found legroom in KLM’s Economy Comfort superior. I suppose it’s still slightly better than standard seats, though.
On the bright side, with the entire row to myself, I had some extra room to stretch out.
As for the rest of the cabin, it’s a standard 3-3 configuration. Seat pitch measures 30-31″, with 17.8″ of width. So it’s tight, though not obnoxiously so.
Brussels Airlines offers no IFE, WiFi, or power ports on this aircraft. Bring your own entertainment, and make sure to charge your devices before boarding. If you don’t have lounge access, the gate areas at BRU actually contain a decent number of power outlets.
Brussels Airlines Business Class – Food & Beverage
I expected a choice off the buy-on-board menu, but instead, Brussels Airlines offers a separate fixed menu for Business Class. The meal began with a quite tasty, crusty roll and excellent Belgian butter. I love bread, and butter, so this really hit the spot.
For the main course, the flight attendant offered a single choice, a cross between a Cobb and Caesar salad. It was actually quite tasty. Cold chicken on airplanes too often becomes tough as rubber. But here, the chicken remained juicy and reasonably tender, enhanced with fresh, crisp veggies. Plus, I needed this lighter meal after stuffing myself with all sorts of food in Brussels.
I do have to give a demerit, though, for presentation. The combination of a plastic tray and a salad in a box comes off as very un-Business Class. C’mon, just put the salad on a proper plate!
For desert, the FAs handed out a selection of Neuhaus chocolates. Since we had only two Business Class passengers, the FA invited me to help myself to more than one. Don’t mind if I do!
In case you’re curious, below is a selection of the Economy Class buy-on-board menu, provided by Foodmaker. The menu included some typical Belgian specialties like fries, waffles, and a croque monsieur sandwich. (I really have to wonder whether you can successfully execute fries or a croque monsieur on a plane, though.) Prices seemed reasonable; in fact, €5 for a croque monsieur isn’t bad at all considering typical Brussels prices. FYI, Foodmaker is a fast casual restaurant with locations throughout Belgium and the Netherlands.
Brussels Airlines Business Class – Service
One thing stood out about this short flight – excellent service from the flight attendants. It began from the start, with a warm welcome, and an extended search for some English-language reading material. (She eventually found a couple of Africa-specific Business Week-type magazines. Quite an interesting read, actually.) The FA provided warm, friendly service throughout the flight, but really came through at the end. Both me and the other Business Class passenger had to stow our carry-ons a few rows back. As soon as she saw us trying to work our way back, the FA immediately stopped traffic, and personally retrieved our bags for us. Imagine ever getting that kind of service (albeit unnecessary) on a domestic American carrier…
We landed at Stockholm Bromma about 15 minutes early. Talk about an old school airport. It consists of a single terminal, and you simply walk across the ramp into the shed-like building after deplaning. Too bad it was dark and lightly raining; I’d have loved to get a few photos of the ramp.
Brussels Airlines Business Class – Final Thoughts
Despite the mediocre hard product, the soft product made up for it. A tasty meal and excellent service from the flight attendants made this a pleasant flight. The problem, of course, is that in a vacuum, the price premium for intra-Europe Business Class simply doesn’t make sense. As an add-on to an award ticket or long-haul flight, though, I wouldn’t hesitate to fly Brussels Airlines again based on this experience.