What Exactly Did I Pay $145 For? Vueling Excellence Barcelona to Rome
On a recent trip to Italy, I flew a rather complicated and drawn out itinerary. I flew from St. Louis to Chicago to New York to Barcelona and finally, arrived in Rome. One reason I did this was to earn miles on both American and Delta as well as to try out the Spanish-based airline, Vueling.
Second, living in St. Louis, this itinerary is actually quite standard. To get to any European city from St. Louis, other than Paris and London, you’d typically fly to a hub on the east coast of the US and then connect in yet another city in Europe. Of course, you can always connect with one stop. However, tickets with a single stop are usually much more expensive.
Before my flight on Vueling, I searched around on Google looking for some reviews of the airline. There were a few. However, none of these reviews covered Vueling’s business class product, Excellence.
I had originally booked an Optima fare which gave me access to priority seating, priority boarding, and day of departure flight changes. Once I discovered a lack of Vueling Excellence reviews, I decided to upgrade. After a brief visit to a Priority Pass lounge in Barcelona, I decided to visit a Vueling rebooking booth to request an upgrade.
I asked the Vueling agent what amenities came with Excellence. She said, “There’s no middle seat, more legroom, you board first, you can change flights, and you get a snack.” I was sold on the upgrade. After ten minutes of calling supervisors, I was told that I could upgrade for 128 euros. I decided to do. I upgraded to Excellence for $145.
I had been sold on Excellence after reading Vueling’s website. Vueling’s website stated that not only would I get access to priority boarding and have an empty middle seat but I’d also have access to “dedicated catering.” I didn’t know what that catering would consist of, but I decided the upgrade was worth the risk.
In hindsight, wasting $145 on what was nothing more than a padded headrest has to be one of my biggest travel mistakes I’ve ever made. I’m furious at Vueling and will likely never fly with the airline ever again. There wasn’t dining, I had to pay for a soft drink, and the service was poor.
Here’s why you should never upgrade to Excellence on Vueling Airlines.
|Departure City/Time||Barcelona (BCN)/9:57 AM (17 Minutes Late)|
|Arrival City/Time||Rome (FCO)/11:30 AM (On-Time)|
|Cabin of Service/Seat||Excellence/1F|
Excellence Priority Boarding
The flight to Rome was pretty full. Boarding took forever, and it seemed as if the steady and persistent stream of passengers would never end.
Before I had boarded, the standard boarding line in the boarding area stretched beyond the Rome gate and down the terminal. Since I was seated in Excellence, I was able to bypass the massive line and board right at the podium.
The agents instructed me to wait right at the boarding pass scanner until boarding began. I was the only passenger, other than a non-rev, that was ready to board at scheduled boarding time. Boarding was painless with Excellence, however, I can’t say the same for passengers who booked the base economy fares.
On-Board Vueling in Excellence Class
I knew exactly what to expect regarding seat arrangement and seat comfort when I upgraded. Excellence is intra-European business class so I knew the legroom would be marginally better and the seats would be the same with the exception of a blocked middle seat.
I was spot on. Vueling Excellence offers marginally enhanced legroom, a blocked middle seat, and a padded headrest. Additionally, Excellence passengers get access to dedicated overhead bin space. The dedicated bins are clearly marked and monitored by flight attendants.
So far, Vueling Excellence was shaping up to be a pretty enjoyable experience. However, I had my fingers crossed that I’d enjoy a nice meal. Once the other two Excellence passengers and I took our seats (one of whom was a non-rev), the flight attendant came around and checked our tickets. She said, “I have to check your ticket because this is like the first class, people want these seats.” I thought to myself that these seats must really be something special if the flight attendants come around and check our tickets.
Also during boarding, the flight attendants served me a glass of still water. It was a nice gesture that I thought was a sign of the service to follow once airborne.
Vueling Excellence Class Service
Here’s where things quickly went down hill. Throughout the boarding process and during the climb out of Barcelona, I explored the menu provided in the seatback pocket. There was a fairly long list of snacks and meals that you could purchase. I assumed the same menu applied to Excellence passenger, however, that’d we get to choose an item for free. Moreso, in the Vueling in-flight magazine, a page outlining Excellence service noted once again, dedicated onboard catering. This time it featured a clip art image of a pretzel.
Once the aircraft leveled off, the purser came through the aisles with an in-flight service cart. The cart rolled right past row 1, Excellence, and made its way to the back of the aircraft. A few minutes later, I started to smell what seemed to be the aroma of freshly baked bread. The non-revenue passenger seated in Excellence was served a hot ham and cheese croissant. It looked and smelled amazing. He had not paid anything for his croissant, so I eagerly awaited by choice of a free sandwich.
After the other paying Excellence passenger had ordered his beverage, it was my turn to order. I ordered an orange juice to which the flight attendant responded, “Ok, 3.50 euros.” I was in shock. I was so shocked, I willingly paid $4 for an orange juice and said nothing. That $4 orange juice was the extent of the catering I received onboard my flight to Rome.
For the remainder of the flight, the flight attendants hung out in the back galley until final approach. From the moment I was asked to pay for a small bottle of orange juice, I realized I had made one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made since I first started flying.
This flight was honestly, one of the biggest let downs I have ever experienced. Given such a steep price difference between the base fare and Vueling Excellence class, I was confident the service would be much better than in economy. I was wrong.
Not only was the service poor but it wasn’t as advertised. I guess given the duration of the flight, maybe that’s why I didn’t receive the dedicated catering. However, I didn’t receive anything that differentiated the service between the Optima fare and Excellence class. The legroom and the boarding priority was the same. Both passengers in Excellence Class and Optima fares get to change flights. What did I pay $145 for?
I urge you to think twice before flying in Excellence class or flying Vueling in general.