After a long flight from Seattle to London and relaxing in the Plaza Premium Lounge, it was time to Jump on my Croatia Airlines Economy flight to Zagreb. I think this is likely what caused the error fare to make my round trip <$350. Croatia Airlines and British Airways are not part of the same air alliance or even partner airlines. There must have been some strange error to allow me to book this on one ticket. However, whatever the reason, I am not complaining.
One of the keys to traveling on the cheap is being flexible and decisive. When booking travel I do not always have a destination in mind. When I see a good deal I book it. Sometimes I use points, other time cash, but I am always looking and ready to jump when opportunity arises. This trip came about from one such opportunity. About 4 months prior to the trip I found an “self dump error fare.” This type of error fare usually occurs when you are buying flights on two different airlines on one ticket and the airline does not calculate the fuel surcharges correctly.
The first for this trip was as low as $275 R/T from Seattle. But I need a weekend trip. To accomodate this requirement I ended up paying $358 for the round trip flight. Given that these flights usually sell for more than $1000 R/T this was a fantastic deal. I ended up booking this flight on Cheapoair.com, a third party travel agency. Shortly after booking they provided me with a British Airways confirmation number which allowed me to access my reservation through British Airways.
As I mentioned above British Airways and Croatia Airlines are not partners, and I could not separate my frequent flier number by flight. Which means I could not get points for the shorter London to Zagreb leg of my flights. But, there are far worse tragedies in the world.
Croatia Airlines is a small airline that does not fly any real long haul flights. Their biggest plane is an Airbus A320 which seats about 180 people. Given the lack of any real long haul flights Croatia Airlines doesn’t have an elaborate boarding process like American Airlines’ ridiculous 9 group boarding process. Croatia Airlines just boards business then economy. Even with this lack of a boarding process, boarding still occurred in an orderly and timely manner. Boarding for this flight started right when my boarding pass said it would, and we were able to push back from the gate right on time.
My flight to Zagreb was on the biggest plane in the Croatia Airlines fleet, its Airbus A320. This particular plane (9A-CTK) is 19 years old, and was definitely starting to show its age. Especially when its inflight video screens popped down for the safety demonstration. I feel like I haven’t seen pop down screens on a plane for a while, but in this case the one right in front of me was not functioning properly, and the video cut in and out. Luckily (as far as safety goes) the the one across the aisle did work.
But the seats looked like they had a recent refresh.
The plane was actually comfortable. Its seats were a generous 18 inches wide and had 32 inches of pitch (distance between seats). When compared to the 28 inches of pitch you get in spirit or 29 inches you get on Easy Jet’s A320, there is a noticeable difference. Even on a short two hour flight, this extra legroom really goes a long way.
Given that these are older planes and Croatia airlines really only fly short hops (this 2 hour flight is its longest), there isn’t any in flight entertainment to speak off. There is also no wifi. Generally this would bother me, but I just bought a new book so I was not going to use it anyways.
Croatia Airlines Economy Flight
My flight on Croatia Airlines wasn’t all that notable. On short flight, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When you are only on a plane a short time, I find it is easier to set yourself apart in bad ways, than in good. However, as far as service goes, Croatia Airlines was excellent. Its flight attendants were extremely friendly, and unlike British Airways Short-haul Economy, you actually get some refreshments. Shortly after we were in the air the flight attendants came through offering a choice of drink, including free wine, and a small Croatian snack pack.
I felt like this was a very nice touch. The little snack pack consisted of cheese and olives in Croatian olive oil and a small bag of crackers seasoned with herbs from the dalmatian region. It was like a culinary preview (an amuse bouche if you will) of the deliciousness that is Croatian food.
As I always say about economy flights, it is the little things that can set you apart. The quick drink/snack service plus a comfortable on-time flight made for a delightful short hop experience.
Croatia Airlines Overall
A Comfortable plane, a nice snack, and warm service. Croatia Airlines provides everything you could want on a short-haul flight, with the exception of in flight entertainment.