Noel Marsh-Giddings, who runs the fantastic and popular inflightvideo.tv website and YouTube channel, recently flew on the first airBaltic CS300 flight from Riga to Amsterdam. He sent this report in and shared his pictures and the excellent video of the flight with us.
Our journey began outside the terminal at Riga’s International Airport (RIX). It was a a cold day, with temperature of 1C and snow on the ground. The airport was buzzing with avgeeks from around Europe, many of whom had arrived on the same flight as us from Amsterdam in the morning. We spent a couple of hours at the wonderful Riga Air Museum next door to the airport where there were some amazing historic military and civilian aircraft.
We made our way back to the terminal and through security, before heading through the modern terminal to gate C25. Outside the airport was our beautiful ride for today, the brand new Bombardier CS300 YL-CSA.
Once we arrived at the gate a party was taking place! There was music playing. We enjoyed a champagne reception with canapés, as well as a celebration cake. We enjoyed the speeches of airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss, VP of Marketing Janis Vanags, Advisor to the Chairman of the Board for Riga Airport, Arturs Kokas, and Her Excellency Ilze Rūse, the Ambassador of Latvia to the Netherlands.
Once the speeches were completed we were invited to board and were given our gift bag containing some memorabilia from airBaltic, including a ‘Remove Before Flight’ key fob, pen, notebook and posters of the CS300. We walked to the aircraft along the red carpet and board through the forward doors. We had plenty of time to take photos and video of the CS300 as we boarded, and I made my way to my initial seat, 24F.
Before long the doors were closed and we were handed our menu for the celebratory meal on today’s flight. We pushed back from the stand and taxied to runway 36 at Riga, before being cleared to take off by Riga Tower for our historic first flight.
We climbed out to the north before making a left turn in the thick cloud towards Amsterdam. When we eventually broke through the top of the cloud the sunset was still (just) visible on the right hand side of the aircraft. I repositioned the camera to the left hand side in seat 25A where it was still daylight after 20 minutes. We climbed to 38,000ft (FL380) and chased the sunset across the Baltic Sea to the south of Sweden and Copenhagen, as we enjoyed the festivities on board.
The aircraft was lovely inside. The white leather seats really brighten the cabin, and the mood lighting fluctuating from airBaltic green to other colours throughout the flight was stunning.
We received our meal, a beautifully presented and tasting salmon canapé. The festivities continued as we were treated to an illusionist onboard the flight to entertain the guests, and a competition to win flights on airBaltic. We enjoyed a nice chat with airBaltic VP of Marketing Janis Vanags, who talked in detail about the CS300 with airBaltic.
Before long we commenced our approach into Amsterdam, contacting Amsterdam Radar on ATC as we crossed the border from Germany into the Netherlands. We enjoyed an incredibly smooth touchdown on runway 36, the Polderbaan, accompanied by a rapturous round of applause, and were escorted by an incredible fleet of airport vehicles to the terminal. As we pulled onto the stand we experienced a water cannon salute, as we were filmed by Dutch and Latvian TV crews. We disembarked through the forward door into the terminal, being presented with a ‘first to fly’ certificate, postcard, and inside the terminal a wooden tulip from Schiphol Airport.
It really was a wonderful day and a great opportunity to fly on the airBaltic CS300. airBaltic did a wonderful job of arranging the celebrations, and the service onboard was fantastic.
Now, here’s the video to enjoy!