Flight Review: Vueling
Barcelona to Nice, France
On our recent trip to Europe we used a variety of planes, trains and automobiles to get around. One of our travel days required us to get from Barcelona, Spain to Monte Carlo, Monaco. After studying the rail map we decided flying was the most efficient way to get to our destination. (It was also the cheapest option)
Booking The Flight
You can't fly directly into Monaco, but you can fly to nearby Nice, France and take an express bus. The bus takes about twenty minutes and picks you up at the Nice airport. While I initially wanted to fly a SkyTeam airline after looking at flights and fares we decided to fly Vueling. Vueling is a low-cost European carrier based in Spain. They have a pretty good website and I was able to find good flight options for the sixty minute hop to Nice.
I wasn't too concerned going the ultra low cost carrier route because I knew the flight was only going to be about an hour. We bought one-way tickets for about $125 USD per person. We selected the OPTIMA fare which included one free checked bag per person. One interesting note, Vueling emailed our boarding passes at the time of booking, weeks ahead of our flight. I thought this was interesting. I was able to print them at home before leaving for Europe.
Vueling does offer online checkin and it opens 48-hours before the flight. (Not the normal 24 hours airlines in the US offer) I completed the online checkin and it gives you the option to have a boarding pass sent to your phone or you can print it out. Since I already had paper boarding passes I didn't bother re-printing. I did try to have it text a copy to my phone, but it never arrived. (I was using a US phone number)
At the Airport
At the airport Vueling has a line dedicated for people who are already checked in who just need to drop a bag. The line was relatively short and moved quickly. The agent was polite and efficient. (The normal checkin line was very long) We had no trouble checking our bags and were quickly on our way to security.
Tip: Checkin online and purchase a fare that includes a checked bag. If you checkin online you only need to go to the bag drop lane at the airport.
We quickly cleared security and headed towards our gate. The flight boarded right on time, thirty minutes prior to departure. After pre-boards, they boarded rows 15 and up. It was like being back in the U.S. in the 1980's. We were in row six, so we patiently waited near the boarding lane for rows 1-14. After about ten minutes the gate agent motioned us forward. We boarded and quickly found our cramped seats.
Vueling flies a fleet of Airbus A319 and A320s. The planes are in an coach configuration. The first few rows are sold at a premium rate and the middle seat is blocked. Pitch, the distance between seats, is about 30". As you can see in the pictures there isn't much legroom. I'm six foot and my knees were in the back of the seat in front of me.
Vueling is a no frills airline. You pay for beverages and snacks onboard and there is no in flight entertainment. I will say the flight crew was exceptionally friendly and greeted everyone with a smile. Our flight left the gate on time to the minute. It was one of the most efficient boardings I've seen in a long time.
We landed in Nice about ten minutes early. It took about twenty minutes to get our bags.
If I had it to do over again I would book the same flight with Vueling. The staff were friendly and the flight was quick and efficient. Later in this same trip we flew Alitalia from Rome to Madrid and that flight was not as pleasant. If your travels take you to Europe and you're looking for a way to get from A to B make sure you check out Vueling.