Adria Airways Business Class: Comically Bad

Filed Under: Other Airlines, Travel

Generally intra-Europe business class is nothing to get excited about. On most airlines it consists of economy seats with a blocked middle, as well as better food and service. Some airlines are better. For example, Aeroflot and Turkish offer “real” business class on short haul flights.

However, I’ve rarely had an intra-Europe flight that I’d consider to be actually terrible, since I always know what to expect. Maybe one exception is the time a Lufthansa purser accused me of recording the crew.

I just flew Adria Airways business class on the 40 minute flight from Munich to Ljubljana, and it was so bad that it was almost comical. I was excited to fly Adria, given that they’re one of the last Star Alliance airlines I haven’t flown.

Where do we even start with this flight?

Knock knock, is anyone there?

I’ve sometimes walked up to the door of the plane and found the crew caught off guard. However, in this case I walked towards the door of the plane, only to find it closed. Never mind the fact that boarding started 10 minutes later than scheduled.

I knocked on the door of the plane, and there was no response. Finally I knocked really loud, at which point the crew opened the door in a pissed off way. No “I’m sorry” or “welcome onboard.” Instead they looked at me like the below (but not when her bae looks back at her).

It’s also not like the crew was busy. When the door finally did open, they were all just sitting in the first couple of rows of seats.

A very reclined seat!

My friend and I were assigned seats 3D & 3F. When we got to our seats, this is what we found:

You’d think the crew could have let the ground staff know that these seats were broken, but they didn’t.

So we asked the crew where they wanted us to sit, and they just shrugged their shoulders. We asked if we should sit in row three on the other side, and they said “yes, for now.”

We weren’t the only ones having issues. There were off duty pilots seated in row one, except there were also passengers assigned those seats. The pilots didn’t want to move, and huffed and puffed when the passengers in those seats insisted they wanted to sit there.

The curtain in the cabin was also in the wrong place. There were three rows of business class, but the business class curtain was behind row five, causing even more confusion.

OMG the legroom

I expect European airlines to have bad legroom, but this was next level. I think they had the same seat pitch as EasyJet and other airlines, except they didn’t have slimline seats, meaning you have even less legroom.

I totally get how that one seat broke — someone must have done it in an act of rage due to the lack of legroom. The guy seated across from us had his legs in the aisle, since he couldn’t fit.

Food & drinks

This was a short flight, so the food was not great (especially since I don’t eat pork), but ultimately was in line with what I’d expect.

I made the mistake of ordering “champagne,” which in reality was a sparkling wine from Slovenia.

Pro tip: Don’t order Adria’s sparkling wine from Slovenia. I’m sure Slovenia has some lovely wines, but this particular sparkling wine is not among them. Nope, no, no, just no.

Flight attendants aren’t here for your service or safety!

The crew made a single pass through the cabin to serve the snack, and then cleared trays. They never came back through the cabin, even though some people still had drinks.

When the seatbelt sign was turned on, they just stayed in their seats, rather than doing safety checks. My glass and sparkling wine bottle were still on the center tray table, so I just had to hold them for landing.

Friendliness

Slovenians are known for being among the friendliest people in Europe. It’s something many of you even commented on when I said I was going to Slovenia. Well, that doesn’t apply to this Adria crew, that’s for sure.

Adria’s app talks about the service you can expect onboard, noting “it is the cabin crew who greet you with a smile when you board the aircraft.”

Nope. Though I do have to give the crew credit — they smiled when we got off the plane, probably because they were happy to get rid of us.

Bottom line

I find there’s not much differentiation between airlines in Europe on short haul flights, though Adria is an exception. Admittedly this was probably an especially bad flight on them.

Usually when I write about intra-Europe business class my conclusion is along the lines of “meh, it’s intra-Europe business class, there aren’t really any surprises.” Well, this flight was the exception.

Comments
  1. this is way more content you had expected to produce than any other intra-euro flight. I say it is money will spent. Love to try that real-deal knee crusher for the LOLz

  2. LH & Co should kick this third country airline out of 5* tomorrow or you demand 100% cash back plus compensation

  3. If only you had a second flight booked with them. Just to see if this was a one-off, or if they are just consistently this bad.

  4. As a counterpoint I flew JP LJU-ZRH on an A319 in 2016 in economy (6DF with no middle buddy, so eurobiz) and it was wholly unmemorable, but not bad. I wonder if your equipment was worse somehow?

  5. @Debit: What a stupid thing to say. In Germany we call it “Service Wüste” (=service desert) and it applies to our country in particular, put also is quite fitting for the rest of Europe. Who cares if “American friendliness and smiles” are not real smiles….it is an attitude towards a costumer, which should be elementary everywhere, just out of respect. And it’s the easiest thing you can do for your costumer….you can’t change the legroom, you can’t change overbooking, but you choose how you approach another person and it makes a difference. I had some shitty flights too, but if the crew was friendly it didn’t bother me as much because I felt welcome.

  6. Love the reviews of terrible airlines. Life would be so boring if everything was perfect all the time.

  7. I doubt there is anybody that considers Slovenians “among the friendliest people in Europe.” They aren’t unfriendly, but their culture isn’t really known for being particularly open or friendly. And the service sector in most industries seems frozen in the communist past.

  8. Did Adria make the sparkling wine that has you so upset? Or are you just incensed that they served it to you?

  9. well. you are spoiled person! i would disagree on 90% you wrote. my experience is very good. all of them. I bet you aren’t perfect either. Would love to see you on work how friendly are you after 8h of work.

  10. According to Gary Leff, this airline is 10 times better than Pakistan International Airlines. This is why he is losing credibility!

  11. The way that seat was “reclined” and the crew sitting on their bums, it would’ve been a perfect opportunity to lounge in it. Angle [not quite] flat business class!

  12. @Dustin I’ll take LH German efficiencies over American Flight Attendants awkward friendliness any time. LH F flight attendants are in fact probably the best out there in terms of great service and genuine good attitude towards customers. I have encountered only 1 bad LH F flight attendant in my 9-10 flights with them.

  13. And now to add to insult, they are expensive! Your average Slovenian doenst fly them, as they can’t afford it. Most of them take a flixbus to fly out of Venice, Trieste or Zagreb.

  14. This is hilarious! Slovenian sparkling wine – oh dear.

    I am also not sure who is quoting this reputation for friendliness there – it seems like a lovely place and I am sure the people are perfectly nice, but I have never heard of a special reputation for friendliness, and the service culture in most of these countries remains a bit stuck in the communist model, eg perfunctory at best.

  15. @Lucky…or anyone else who gets to the door and sees it locked…

    GO BACK TO THE GATE AGENT AND TELL THEM!!!

    If the idiot crew closed the door then they could have inadvertently armed the slide and if they open the door it could blow the slide and crush you.

    Have the gate agent go down there and deal with it…don’t take a chance.

  16. Hi Lucky! I’m actually landing on the same flight right now! You around to meet up with one of your readers? I also plan to go to Lake Bled tomorrow! It’s a must see place here in Ljubijana. Let me know if you are around!

  17. Well I took the evening flight operated by CRJ. Much better than the one you took haha. My crew was actually ok. I was in economy. They did water service. And picked everything at the end.

  18. It’s very easy to tell a story from only one perspective, specially when you are a passenger…
    To clarify a few things that I am sure of – the door is usually kept close, so passengers do not enter a freezing plane (since the engines are off and they is no heating), usually it is the ground staff who comes to anncounce the passangers are going to start boarding, so I am pretty sure the assumed bad mood of the crew was aimed at the ground staff not informing them about boarding. The curtain do not move lower then that row (and for somebody so observant you failed to see the bussines class covers on the seats…- something I noticed right away), even if the crew informed about broken seats, ground staff usually let this be sorted on the plane, to avoid delay and so on. If the class and bottle bothered you, you could have been polite enough to hand them back… As for Slovenians being one of the friendliest- you get what you give…
    Everybody is a critic onwadays. But nobody cares to ask why some things are how they are. Enjoy Slovenia!

  19. I connected through the new Istanbul airport today. My flight from IAD landed 2 hours after the airport officially opened. It is a gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous airport. Wow! Amazing design. TK business lounge was kind of a let down. I think their Ataturk lounge is so dramatic that this one felt meh.

  20. Everybody is a critic nowadays…
    People writting things without knowing any backround story or at least checking their facts…
    Some clarfications I am sure about…- the door is usually closed so passengers don’t enter a freezing cabin, since no engines, so have heating. The assumed bad mood of the crew was probably aimed at the ground staff, since they should be the first at the plane, informing the crew that boarding will start. The curtain does not move lower then that row, but being so observent you should have notice the headrest covers marked bussines class…
    If the class and bottle bothered you, you could have been polite enough to ask the crew to take them. If you want champange – go to France.
    As for the Slovenians being friendly – you get what you give…
    And if all passengers were like you I don’t blame the crew for smilling upon you disembarkation. Enjoy Slovenia!

  21. Never found Slovenians overly friendly… Who told you so? They are not rude, but that’s it… Well, Croatians are worse in my view. Bosnians were really likeable…

  22. I had my boarding pass scanned and was sent down a jet bridge once and there was no plane or crew at all. Ground crew had to tell us to turn around. That was fun.

  23. Natasha (April 6th) do you happen to crew that airline – if not, perhaps you should….

  24. Best. Review. Ever.

    Doug Parker is studying them to see how he can match this in the race to the bottom.

  25. @Spela uh yah, this is a review, so Ben is being a critic as expected. I’m glad he wrote about this experience, it seems like the flight was a mess. Every story is of course told from the perspective of the party telling it. If you happen to personally know the flight attendants, or if you’re one of them, them maybe you can explain why passengers were not reassigned to a functioning seat, why the cabin crew didn’t clear stuff from tray tables, etc. Or maybe, quite simply, they just sucked.

  26. Wow, it sounds like Spela was your FA and is a bit offended at being called out. So funny.

  27. @natasha. “I would love to see how friendly you are after 8 hours work”

    I am laughing so hard at this comment I nearly choked to death. Yes, 8 hours work is DEATH. LMAO.

  28. @Natasha first of all, did you read Lucky’s comment about it may just be a one off experience or do you not understand it? Second of all, Lucky has and will always be here to give his (not your) personal experience l. Third of all, no matter how tired I am, my training still tells me to provide exceptional guest service to all of my clients. I guess in your world, after working a measly 8 hours, you think you can provide bad service or better yet, you remember that every time you get horrible service and thank them for their terrible service. You must be a crew member for Adria Airways or you would be so enraged and insist that they provided you excellent service every time.

  29. Regarding the sparkling wine you ordered… It is better than most of italian prosecco you can buy. But again what you like other people might not. So don’t judge.

  30. I took Adria frequently between August of 2006 and May of 2010 and never had a bad experience. I’m happy to concede that things may have gone downhill since then — but I’m willing to bet that you had a one-off experience.

  31. 1985 in college (in London) a flight from LHR to Cairo via Sofia on Balkan Airways…… non-smoking on the right side of the plane and smoking on the opposite side.
    It’s another side of the world.

  32. This is the problem with people from third work countries like Slovenia. Look at how Natasha and Spela got enraged because they didn’t read something nice about their airline from a foreigner. They probably complain about Adria all day every day but when a foreigner writes something negative about it, they are immediately defensive. Conspiracy theories start. Lucky is working for the CIA. It is the West that is holding the country’s advancement down. Blah blah….

  33. Matt: well you are just a ball of fun, aren’t you? May I ask which ‘first world’ country are you from?

    (I’m not from Slovenia, btw. But I’m surprised at the bad experience with Adria, I guess the staff are not happy with them either. From my experience, Slovenians are one of the most genuinely friendly people I’ve met)

  34. Did you just refer to Slovenia as a 3rd world country? I hope that was sarcastic because if not…..just wow.

  35. Spela, I am Slovenian, just like you, and I don’t have any problems with criticism. Adria is sucks, all people know that, who flight on their flights often.
    They have written they serve Champagne, but not cause Radgonska penina isn’t champagne! cause Eurokrem is not Nutella if you know what i want to say. So that’s their problem, not passengers problems. Also rude stuff is often onboard. Wifi never works, but they advertise it, on boarding never leave people to go to the plane, just normal companies doesn’t do that if plane is not ready yet, but for Adria seems is this normal.

  36. Ben I really appreciate your updates on new airlines, especially within Europe as I generally have flown with European airlines business long haul, and then connected onto short haul flights in business by default. I have had really bad experiences, but also good ones on airlines like LH, BA and Swiss on local European business class flights. It was always a bit mixed.

    This is definitely an exception at the lower end of business class, or any class, experience. You need to call Adria not only because of the comfort implications of your experience, but especially because of the safety implications. I would contact the Slovenian Civil Aviation Agency: https://www.caa.si/en/

  37. @Spela I have embarked during winter time when the temperature is very cold. I have never seen or heard about any airline still having the door closed during the boarding process. It must be a specialty just for this airline. I understand if you want to defend them, because you are probably a crew member for this airline or you were the FA working in business cabin on the same flight as Lucky.

  38. Hi Ben,

    Hope next flight with Adria will be better. Shorthaul J flights under 1h in Europe can’t be much of experience anyway. This report was a read, indeed 🙂

    Weather forecast next week is bad in all ex-YU countries, rain, rain and more rain, sort of bad luck for you guys.

    Your initial post abt this trip sparkled a lot of interest and positive coments from SLO, CRO, MK and other readers and it is sad to read some comments abt this post. But, it says a lot abt us and how perception takes lots of time to change.

    Have fun, umbrella and safe flights,

    Cheers

  39. Wow. Sorry to hear of this poor experience – I was actually considering to fly them as my wife and I are thinking of planning a trip to Slovenia!

  40. Lucky I am sorry to have a bad experience with Adria Airways. It never happened to me that I would come to closed doors and I took more than 100 flights. They where probably annoyed that Ground Staff did’t notified them about Boarding.

    Legroom is average, about same as on Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines A319/20/21 aircraft. And I also think that LH,OS and LX don’t offer any better service (welcome drink, cold towels, etc). Food was’t that bad for an hour flight, and I would be expecting Champange anyway. Mostly in Europe you will get sparkling wine (ex. Procesco) unless specifically request in highend resturants and hotels.

    And for all angry readers saying United Airways is better than this, I stongly disagree that service on 1:00 hour UA flights in First Class is any better in terms of service. I rembered how bad was United Club in Chicago before I bordered my LH flight to MUC. I think was on of the worst airport lounges I ever visited.

    Lucky I wish you pleseant and wonferdull stay here in Slovenia and safe and pleasant onward trip.

  41. My only experience with Adria was in Economy. They don’t even serve water there … I really try to avoid them, Austrian and Croatian are much better.

  42. That happens when you sell a good airline company to a no name investment fund with no experience in air industry. Just because Brussels instructed the state to do so.

    I always had nice experience with Adria, but in the past years after being privatised and sold to this German based 4K invest their service has rapidly and continuously declined. They cancelled more than half of the destinations, sold all airplanes (or leased them) and just lease older planes for their own flights.

    There are rummors that Lufthansa is behind this. First destroy brand, then buy it cheap and make sure noone can even think about competing Lufthansa.

  43. Agree with Bobo and Kerry.

    As for the locals, not so much. Enjoy going to the market and being glared at if you dare to touch the fruit… best stuff on display, while you get handed the 3rd grade product from the back. As just one example…

  44. business class on intra european flights is just a waste of money… most of europena companies do’n’t allow their manager to fly infra-european flights in business for equity and spending review policies so clients are very few…

  45. Slovenia is a beautiful country to visit and people are very hospitable.

    Sadly just abou the only way ther is on Adria because the only direct services inbound are from *A hubs and no matter what you choose you end up with the last sector on Adria with no choice no matter where you connect.

    In practice that means a flight from an LH group hub and it’s time LH let Adria die and used LH, LX and OS on services to LJU.

  46. I could care less about smiling FAs. As long as they are efficient, courteous, and good at their intended task, that’s a 100 in my book. Not everyone is born with a smiling personality. Customers need to learn to appreciate a good worker for their work, not how much they smile.

  47. I think the crew training and attitudes are a legacy holdover.

    Years ago (1985 to be exact) I flew JatAirways (aka Jugoslovenski Aerotransport) from ZAG-LHR. It remains to this day the worst flight I ever experienced, courtesy in large part to the rude and what turned out to be comical crew. Examples abound:

    – A chaotic free-for-all boarding procedure, which almost led to fistfights
    – Meals served frozen solid to passengers (What, you don’t like food?)
    – Humorless stone-faced flight attendants who literally scowled at passengers when asked for something like oh, a warm meal or more water. They didn’t find humor in passengers mimicked their facial expressions, especially when it elicited laughter in response (including other flight attendants)
    – A homemade wooden dispenser glued to the bathroom counter, filled with newspaper squares for toilet paper
    – Luggage arriving at Heathrow with clear signs of pilfering. In fact, several bags popped open when they hit the baggage carousel, only to find them almost completely empty.

    Needless to say, the memory still lingers, but also makes me laugh.

  48. Funny … I characterized my recent MUC-OTO flight the same way. The cabin service was abysmal and the aircraft filthy — we boarded 15 minutes late, and then sat on the aircraft for more than 75 minutes due to a dispatch system error that needed to be resolved. The surly crew didn’t do any pre-departure beverages. Not even water. When another Biz passenger asked for water, he was told no. Meanwhile, the crew and flight deck drank from their own water bottles. No updates were provided around the delay. My neighbor’s seat recline was broken and kept falling back, and the FAs kept scolding him, even as he tried to explain. Same issue with the curtain divider — three rows of business and divider left at row five. Inflight, still no beverage service – we’re almost at 2.5 hours since initial boarding. Meal was dropped off, and then finally beverages were served. White wine and water were warm, and there was no ice loaded.

    On the return, couldn’t be more different. It was as if they were a completely different airline. Warm smiles on boarding, pre-departure beverage with refills, drinks served 6 minutes after takeoff. Multiple refills. Clean aircraft. Constantly checked on. Thoroughly bizarre.

  49. @Emily
    There’s smiley, there’s efficient, and there’s downright terrible. Which category do you think the staff on this flight fall into? Certainly not the first two…

  50. No surprise that this once good airline goes downhill very fast. Adria is as good as bancrupt – it has problems to pay its providers and its employees. So with being jobless in not so far away future the flight attendants attitude is understandable.
    Btw that sparkling wine is actually a good one !
    Although it is not the one advertised as champagne (which would be in a golden bottle ) ,
    this silver one is in my opinion much better.
    I guess it was too warm and too much shuddled ?!

  51. Like others have said, Adria Airways used to be better. Compared with their past, it’s a sad state of affairs.

    I do have to protest the part about Slovenian sparkling wine. Sparkling wine has more than 160 years long tradition in Slovenian town of Radgona. Their sparkling wines have won awards in EU and in the USA. Slovenia is a fantastic place to visit for foodies and wine connoisseurs.

    Also, looking at the comments here, some uninformed people obviously think Slovenia must be some ex-Soviet backwater. It’s actually one of the nicest countries in Europe. Great food & wine, fantastic scenery (especially in the Alps, but the whole country looks fabulous), welcoming people, quite prosperous (18th most prosperous country in the world according to Legatum Prosperity Index), what’s not to like?

    Don’t let shoddy airline service on a short flight prevent you from enjoying the delights of the country.

  52. I won’t comment other things, but I can’t agree about the wine.
    Maybe it was not served properly, but it should be a very good one. This particular product is over 40 years on the market, with several awards worlwide.

    I wish you a better flight next time!

  53. About the wine: I fully understand Lucky’s frustration here. If he saw Champagne on the wine list and ordered Champagne, then getting champanski or sekt or cava or prosecco is just a big no-no. Champagne is a protected name for wines from that specific region. Nothing else qualifies as such, no matter how good or bad a product might be.

    Otherwise it’s just pure amateurism. One big no-no. I’m not surprised they’re (temporarily) out of business now. Cabin crew should be there to enhance safety, not to worsen it.
    Having a locked door at boarding? no-no. Assigning bad seats? no-no. Airline staff above everyone else? no-no. Not checking the cabin before landing? no-no.

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