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A review of Vueling Airlines

Article created: Jul 07, 2007
Article by: Jeremiah Faith
Summary: Vueling is the top European low-fare airline in terms of value and service, and it's my favorite low-cost airline in Europe. Vueling is the only European company I know of that allows you to choose your seat at the time you purchase your ticket. They fly new A320 airplanes with leather seats similar to JetBlue. However, as is typical for European domestic flights, Vueling does not offer much leg room. And any sort of food, snack or drink will cost money. Finally, Vueling flies primarily to various European cities between its three hub cities of Barcelona, Madrid, and Paris. If one of those three cities isn't in your destination plans, you probably won't be able to fly Vueling.

Vueling Airlines began in 2004 as an alternative to low-cost, uncomfortable airlines like Ryanair. To me Vueling is the European equivalent to JetBlue (actually JetBlue owns 7% of Vueling, so it’s probably no coincidence that they are similar). Vueling is typically not as cheap as other low-cost European carriers like Ryanair and EasyJet, but their prices are considerable lower than the major European carriers (and are at least as cheap as US budget airlines). If you value your own comfort at all, I’d highly recommend paying the extra money to fly Vueling instead of the low-cost alternatives in Europe.

The Good

####the tickets Similar to JetBlue in the US, Vueling offers relatively no-nonsense ticket. Vueling’s tickets are single-class, nonrefundable, you choose your seat when you buy the ticket, and your seat is guaranteed because they do not overbook. Although all Vueling tickets are non-refundable, the change fees are reasonable (unlike JetBlue you can’t outright cancel a Vueling ticket and get a refund). As of this writing, the change fee for a Vueling flight is 30 Euro for each flight plus any difference between the total flight costs at the moment of making the change (so changing an entire round trip will cost at least 60 Euro). Vueling tickets are sold as one-way tickets, which makes it easy to make more complex scenarios like flying Madrid -> Barcelona -> Rome -> Madrid.

the planes

Similar to JetBlue, Vueling operates new A320 airplanes (which require less maintenance). The A320 is generally regarded as the most comfortable airplane for domestic flights. They have the typical 3 seats - aisle - 3 seats configuration found in the 737. Like JetBlue, you get nice leather seats. Unlike JetBlue, there isn’t much leg room. Vueling is similar to other European carriers in this regard, so stretch a little before you get on the airplane. Vueling also doesn’t have the nice little TVs that everyone covets on JetBlue flights.

the airports

Ryanair in particular has the tendency to land in little dinky airports that are far outside the city center, and require convoluted routes on buses, cabs, trains, etc to get into town. Vueling flies into the major airports of the cities it serves, which means their is almost always some sorta express train, subway, or bus from the airport to the city.

The Bad

####the snacks There’s a decent selection, but like other European airlines you even have to pay water and snacks.

few destinations unless you leave from Madrid, Barcelona, or Paris

If you leave from one of these hub cities, you’ll have decent selection of cities that includes Rome, Venice, Amsterdam, and Ibiza. But their coverage of European destinations is much more limited than at major European carriers or at other low-cost carriers, including EasyJet and Ryanair. Vueling is increasing their number of destinations pretty quickly, so check out their flight map for details.

flights aren’t available from major travel search engines

As far as I know, Vueling flights are only available from their website, and do not show up on orbitz, travelocity, expedia, etc…

Conclusions

I used to only travel around Europe by train. After Ryanair and EasyJet started offering unbelievably cheap flights, I tried flying around Europe. But really, Ryanair in particular is so uncomfortable and has so many hidden costs that I much prefer the train. Now that Vueling is around, I have a comfortable and affordable alternative to the train. Any time I fly around Europe, I try to fly Vueling.