REVIEW | Air Antwerp, Antwerp to London: the cutest thing ever!

Air Antwerp launched operations almost two months ago. For the moment they have only one airplane: a 29-year-old Fokker 50. They operate one route: Antwerp to London City Airport. In times of climate awareness there is a lot of discussion about these kind of short haul flights. But as a born and raised ‘Antwerpeneer‘ I had to fly out of Antwerp at least once in my life. Here’s the review.

Text and photos by Nico.
Nico also reviewed a TUI flight, an Austrian Airlines flight and the Thalys Lounge in Brussels.

Booking

Air Antwerp is partly owned by KLM and operates its flights as a codeshare. This means you can book flights on both Air Antwerp’s website as on KLM.com. Surprisingly, flights are always cheaper if you book in via KLM.

AirAntwerp_booking

We paid 119 euro per person for a return flight, via KLM.com. On the Air Antwerp website, flights were over 200 euro. This seems no exception: if I search again today for flights in March (just random dates), I see the same kind of price difference.

Another reason to book through KLM is that you can collect Flying Blue Miles, as Air Antwerp doesn’t have a frequent flyer program of its own.

Ground experience

It was my first time flying out of Antwerp International Airport and the only word I can use to describe the entire ground experience is: “cute”.

There are a few check-in desks at the entrance of the airport. One of them was used for the Air Antwerp flight, and what a surprise: there was no cue at all.

AirAntwerp_checkin

Check-in at Air Antwerp is open until 20 minutes before departure. I totally got why: this airport is as tiny as a poststamp.

For those of you who love some airport shopping: Antwerp Airport has one shop, acting as the airport restaurant, bar, newspaper stand and tax free shop. Once again: cute!

AirAntwerp_shop

I noticed a door to the Brabo Lounge. As no airline operating from Antwerp Airport offers business class, I guess this lounge is currently not in use. It seemed closed anyway.

AirAntwerp_Brabo

Going through security was a breeze, and seconds later we were at the gate area. Our little Fokker was beautifully parked right before the gate.

AirAntwerp_waiting

There was one other flight scheduled to depart before our flight to London: a TUI flight to Lublin in Poland. Funny enough they were missing one passenger at the moment they were due to depart. I mean: where would this person be? Certainly not lost in the airport or busy shopping!

At Antwerp Airport, you can just walk to your plane. Which gave me the great opportunity to shoot this picture of today’s ride.

AirAntwerp_Fokker50

On board

Air Antwerp’s Fokker has 50 seats in a 2-2 configuration. During online check-in, we were able to select the first row. So plenty of legroom for us. I didn’t test other rows, but leg room seemed to be alright.

AirAntwerp_cabin

The plane is nearly 30 years old, and that clearly shows. I mean: look at the overhead panel.

AirAntwerp_overhead

One thing I really love about Air Antwerp is how simple everything is: they have no booking classes: everybody flies in economy and will have the same service. They don’t sell seats in advance, so you’re free to select your favorite seat as soon as check-in opens, everybody has checked-in luggage complementary in their ticket, …

Being such a small airline, it is clearly much more expensive for Air Antwerp to hire a sales team than just offering everyone the same product.

On such a small plane, there is only one cabin crew member to serve all 50 passengers. Her name was Dovile and she was an absolute delight. She clearly took pride in her job and loved being on board with us.

After the door closed, we got a brief safety presentation and minutes later we were airborne showcasing beautiful views on Antwerp and the airplane’s engine.

AirAntwerp_turboprop

On board service was lovely. Passengers get to choose between a sweet or salty snack. The salty snack is peanuts, the sweet option is an ‘Antwerp hand‘: a typical Antwerp cookie. We chose the latter, together with some wine.

There are two things I’d like to say about the wine. First of all: for a fifty minute flight, this wine bottle is huge! It contained 25cl wine. In comparison: on KLM-flights, economy passengers get small bottles of wine too, containing only 18.5cl.

Second: we were served “Vin de la Communauté Européenne, embouteillé en France“. So basically “European wine, bottled in France”. No indication on what wine whatsoever. Sounds kind of dodgy, but it tasted ok.

Although Dovile didn’t have much time, she took her time for the service and didn’t mind a little chat with passengers. That made the service feel really personalised and charming.

Before we even noticed we started our descent, minutes later we were on the ground in London City Airport, parked next to an Embraer from Lot Polish Airlines.

AirAntwerp_door

Return flight

London City Airport is close to the center of London, but not nearly as charming as Antwerp Airport is. We had a very rude check-in agent, who couldn’t care less about her job. What a difference compared to Antwerp.

On board we had the same lovely experience. This time, we picked the salty snack (peanuts) and had a gin-tonic to drink. Service was once again very good.

AirAntwerp_peanuts

Bottom line

It is questionable whether a flight between Antwerp and London is responsible in 2019. I guess most people take the train nowadays which is much better for the environment.

Other than that, we absolutely enjoyed our flights to and from London on Air Antwerp. We hope they will be very successful and can’t wait for them to open up new destinations. We would fly again with Air Antwerp in a heartbeat.

 

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