Air Europa is Spain’s third largest airline and began life as Air España in 1986. In 1991 their parent company went bankrupt but the profitable airline branch of the business was taken over by the Spanish travel company Globalia. They changed the name of the airline to Air Europa and shifted the focus of operations from charter flights to scheduled services. Air Europa continues to fly charter services but also has an extensive long haul network targeted almost exclusively for Spaniards and Parisians. In 1998 Air Europa began a codesharing arrangement with Spain’s flag carrier and One World member Iberia but withdrew in 2005 in preparation to join SkyTeam, which they did in 2007. In 2007 Air Europa established Air Dominicana which secured rights to fly between the Dominican Republic and New York, but before the airline got off the ground it ran out of cash and declared bankrupt. In 2012 Air Europa’s finances look as shaky as Spain’s as it is suffering from European Union-wide belt tightening.
Few passengers would book an Air Europa flight because of the on-board service which at the very best could be described as average. Crew who are generally middle aged and Spanish wear quite an unflattering dated uniform and don’t even bother to put on a fake smile most of the time. The passion for flying is clearly a thing of the past for most of them. On board the charter flights where meals and drinks need to be purchased crew are primarily interested in selling their overpriced junk food from the on-board menu. Passengers without the right change can expect a lecture. Aircraft interiors match the level of service; dull.
Air Europa is primarily a Spanish airline with services focused on Madrid, the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands and also Paris. From Paris the airline has an excellent network covering many popular destinations in Spain. Air Europa services from other European cities all fly to Madrid only. Air Europa offers excellent connections to and from the gay-friendly party island of Ibiza. Air Europa also operates a long haul network to New York, many Caribbean resort destinations, tourist spots in South America and African services to Dakar in Senegal and Banjul in Gambia.
Air Europa fill their aircraft because they are cheap and connect with other airlines. Most services that Air Europa fly are full service so flights will include a meal and knowledge that delays and missing baggage will be dealt with. Air Europa is better than the ultra cheap carriers of Europe like easyJet and Ryanair and are more comparable with legacy airlines on long distance routes. Air Europa is in many ways a Spanish equivalent of Germany’s Air Berlin. Air Europa overall represents reasonable value.
Air Europa’s meal service is not good, in any class. On charter flights passengers will need to buy from the on-board menu which is exclusively junk food snacks and appalling coffee. On short haul flights such as Ibiza to Madrid passengers will get coffee and a cookie while on long haul routes passengers receive a low quality TV style meal. Economy passengers will dine on aluminum while Business Class will dine on plastic or gaudily painted chinaware. Air Europa’s Business Class catering cannot even be compared to Emirates Economy. While meals are poorly presented, the airline does provide passengers will a nice selection of wines.
Air Europa keeps airfares low by providing minimal inflight entertainment in both Business and Economy classes. Some aircraft have no video in-flight entertainment at all, which is barely noticeable on short flights to Ibiza for instance, while on the long haul flights to South America planes are fitted with a modern individual seat back entertainment system with a limited number of current and classic movie choices. Most aircraft have drop down monitors with volume accessed through headsets. The airlines in-flight magazine called Europa is a reasonable read, this is if you speak Spanish!
Air Europa provides rudimentary ground services usually by bored check in agents who seldom let passengers take even one extra kilo of baggage. As a full service airline if there are ticketing or baggage issues they will be dealt with, without a lecture but the airline is fond of charging for excess baggage. Missing baggage can be a nightmare so Travel Insurance is a wise choice, especially on some of the airlines dodgier routes like Dakar and Lima.
There is nothing particularly premium about Air Europa’s Business Class. Surely they must have only just scraped in on this one to qualify as a SkyTeam member. Seats are larger and more spacious, but do not lie flat. Meals are larger and served on linen, but plates on short haul are still plastic and the airlines entertainment system cannot match that provided to Economy passengers on airlines like Emirates, Etihad or Asiana.
If you need to go from A to B on a budget with minimal baggage then Air Europa is just fine. On charter flights passengers will need to open their wallets but on scheduled flights the airline will feed passengers. Air Europa definitely offers a superior Economy experience compared to no-frill carriers and is worth spending a few more Euros on. Air Europa’s Economy Class is very average, unmemorable but also inoffensive.
Oddly for an airline that is so lackluster in almost every department, Air Europa does belong to one of the world’s best frequent flyer schemes, Flying Blue. Flying Blue covers several airlines including Air France, KLM, Aircalin and Kenya Airways and as a SkyTeam member airline a membership can be used to earn points on flights all across the globe. If you’re a frequent traveler then a Flying Blue membership is a good bet meaning you won’t need to join any other scheme in SkyTeam.
Air Europa is a reasonably well run airline with a management team that knows a lot about its core business; leisure travel. Air Europa’s managers are close to the front line and intimately aware of the needs, and demands, of customers and staff. The airlines pockets are not deep and they know if they experiences financial distress no one would come to their rescue. Management decisions are taken cautiously and money is not thrown around. Air Europa seems to be reasonably egalitarian and managers are expected to reach their targets as much as anyone else in the company. Air Europa operates in a cut throat business and knows getting on its employees off-side would ultimately mean the airline will be the loser. Air Europa is better run than many larger carriers.
Air Europa operates a mixture of aircraft that they maintain well. The airline has recently invested in a large fleet of smaller Embraer E195’s which are ideally suited for Ibiza and Balearic Islands services. These planes were brand new and are looked after well. The airline has never had a fatal accident and have not lost an aircraft.
Air Europa is an extremely average airline, good to get to and around Spain, but on any other route better airlines exist. .
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