The first category in my annual awards blogs is for airlines.
For 2022 my choice of winner is not complicated. I used only 2 airlines – Ryanair for my trips to Poland, Ireland, Portugal and Slovakia, plus Air Baltic for Latvia.
A cynic might suggest the choice between them is obvious, but in fact it is not quite so simple. I use a website which rates airlines and Ryanair scored 4.8 (out of 5) over 8 flights. Air Baltic scored 5, but that was over only 2 flights.
My Ryanair flights were in the first half of the year, when air travel still involved masks, testing and vaccination certificates (depending on destination) so those flights were mostly quieter than Ryanair would have liked. As a result, my passenger experience was better.
The exception was my flights to and from Bratislava. They were soon after some of the precautions had been scrapped, and the flights were almost full. I think those flights are the reason for Ryanair not scoring a perfect 5.
Air Baltic was excellent in almost every respect. The exception was mask wearing. It was a requirement at the time (June) but staff did not wear them and so passengers (with few exceptions) did not either. I did.
I was pleased to find I enjoyed my flights with Air Baltic because my memories of the airline – positive ones – go back to the 1990s when my work took me to Rīga several times. I think Air Baltic was part owned by SAS back then, and I got a good deal on connecting flights with SAS between Glasgow and Copenhagen.
My trip to Rīga was excellent, and with flights being a big component in the overall enjoyment, Air Baltic’s contribution was much valued.
Yes, this year’s winner is Air Baltic. Apologies to Ryanair. Perhaps next year?
ⓒ iain taylor, 2022