John King flies from Toulouse to Brussels on Brussels Airlines flight SN3668.

The aeroplane

: Airbus A319 OK-NEO operated by Czech Airlines.

Class: Economy (what do you expect for short regional flights?).


Price: $217 per passenger for both sectors (on to Vienna) plus $44 per checked bag.

Europe sports a multiplicity of airlines of sometimes obscure origin, but it can be hard to fly between major cities without going well out of the way via an airline's main base, often with an overnight stop. Not necessarily the cheapest, Brussels suggested fewer complications.

Flight time: 1hr 20m.

On time? Scheduled departure at midday; push back 11.55, takeoff 12.03. Second leg not quite as prompt but what's 10 minutes?

Entertainment: Drop-down screens showing inflight maps. Informative inflight magazine in English with summary sidebars in French and Dutch, otherwise BYO. Opportunity to watch airliner over northern France crossing at 90 degrees a couple of thousand feet above, close enough to identify as Emirates A380.

The service: Usual regional airline. Safety briefing the old tried-and-true method with voiceover (in English) and demonstration of actual equipment instead of fancy video of dubious value.

Toilets: Untested.

Seating: Adequate knee room, unlike Air New Zealand's A320s, where knees are hard up against solid and sharp parts of seat in front, leading to worries about self-extraction with shattered knees in the event of an accident.


The airport experience: Toulouse had soldiers in full kit patrolling in pairs, fingers on submachine gun triggers; check-in agent notably obliging and cheerful, doubtless because queues (or disruptions) had yet to form. Airy Brussels gate lounge allowed identification of bags being loaded for the subsequent sector to Vienna, an encouraging sight after their loss for a week by KLM somewhere between Glasgow and Toulouse.

Would I fly this again? A direct Toulouse-Vienna flight would be nice, but this fine-weather double sector was painless.