This is the second in an eleven-part series covering my June/July 2019 trip to Slovenia and Venice. You can read my last post, covering the flight in SAS Business Class from Washington to Copenhagen, here.
Adria Airways Flt. 511 Copenhagen to Ljubljana (CPH-LJU)
Airbus A319, Economy Class
Sch. Dep. 9:30am Sch. Arr. 11:25am
Act. Dep. 9:54am Act. Arr. 11:31am
When I booked my trip to Slovenia back in August 2018 for the following summer, I knew there was a possibility of a schedule change, or that Adria might even pull out from its random Copenhagen-Ljubljana route. But I figured they would finalize the summer schedule at some point in the fall, and I’d likely be able to get rerouted. When I didn’t get an email informing me of a schedule change, I thought I was in the clear. Well, thankfully, I check my reservations every now and then, because in February, I discovered that the Copenhagen-Ljubljana leg had just been completely removed from my reservation – and I’d gotten no notice from either Avianca Lifemiles, who I had booked through, or Adria or SAS. What was even weirder is the flight seemed to still exist, at the same times – alas, now with no award availability. Someone from Flyertalk offered to do some digging into the reservation, and it appears that Adria had canceled the flight in November, and Avianca had gotten a notification, and was given an authorization to rebook to another Star Alliance flight by Amadeus and SAS. For some reason, they just did nothing.
At this point, there was absolutely zero award availability to get to LJU on other Star Alliance flights. I knew Lifemiles would be completely useless unless I had a specific plan. So, I ended up emailing an Adria office that was noted in the backend of the reservation, and asked them to open up availability and put me on the flight. That actually worked, and they did – though I then had to reach out to Avianca to actually reissue the ticket – which, with a very patient, detailed instructional email from me, they did. If I didn’t have someone willing to go into the Amadeus system for me, though, I don’t know if I would have gotten it sorted out.
My layover in Copenhagen was scheduled for 2 hours and 15 minutes, which was pretty comfortable. The Copenhagen airport isn’t that large, although I was going from one end to the other – arriving in Pier C, and departing out of the airport’s Pier A. Due to a slightly early arrival, I was off my SAS flight from IAD and in the terminal at 7:10am. Unusually, non-Schengen flights arriving in CPH just deplane into the non-Schengen departures area, so I actually could have gone right to the Eventyr Lounge, which is supposedly the best Priority Pass lounge at the airport. I didn’t know what the lines at immigration would be though, so I decided to straight there – where there was actually a fairly long line, though it moved quickly, and I was in the main portion of the terminal about 10 minutes later.
Star Alliance generally has bad lounge access policies if you are connecting from a business class flight to an economy class flight—you don’t get lounge access on the layover. Thankfully, SAS has a more generous policy, and explicitly allows anyone arriving off long-haul business class to access the lounge. At Copenhagen, SAS has two lounges that are access through a common entrance: a Business Lounge for Business Class passengers, and a Gold Lounge for Star Alliance Gold passengers. There’s a staffed desk, but you can also scan your boarding pass and the respective gate automatically opens to the appropriate lounge. The Gold lounge is upstairs, and the very large Business lounge is on the main level.
My first move was a shower; I had to wait a bit at the service desk to swap my boarding pass for a key, but there were plenty of showers available. The shower room itself was very small and quite sparse. The only toiletries were a single soap dispenser on the wall, and there wasn’t a bench or a toilet in the room- just the shower stall and a sink. It was a good shower, though, and the room was very clean and modern.
Refreshed, I made my way back into the main lounge area. The space is quite large with a range of different seating areas. There’s an area that’s more living room style seating with conversation groups, and another area that is more suited for dining, with round high-top tables and some long communal tables closer to the food display. There was also a weird Panasonic display with some headphones you could listen to, and other products on display.
You then pass through an area with work cubicles and there’s another area with rows of seats with windows facing the outside, as well as some random rooms that look like classrooms.
The lounge was pretty crowded, but I was able to find a seat with outlets. One thing that was annoying was that the lounge was packed with a ton of screaming children. So even though my flight was showing a delay already, I left the SAS Lounge around 25 minutes before scheduled boarding time for the lengthy walk to the A-gates.
Since I had time, I popped into the Aviator Lounge, which I had access to via Priority Pass, which was a really blah space. The Aviator is actually connected to the much nicer The Apartment, which I had visited last time I flew out of Copenhagen as an American Platinum elite flying on Airberlin. There was a meager buffet, with cold cuts, cheese, breads, and cereal. There was wine, Carlsberg on tap, soda machines, and coffee machines as well. (There is also the Aspire lounge Priority Pass members can access, which I didn’t check out.) I didn’t stay long.
The A-gates serve non-SAS flights. On the pier I was departing from, there were no shops or restaurants, but just some kiosks and vending machines. The space was super cramped, as the gate for my flight was right across from the gate where Lufthansa was doing a tight turn-around for its Frankfurt flight. My plane was also scheduled to do a tight turn, with an 8:55am arrival and a 9:30am departure time. Sure enough, at 9:03am, the inbound aircraft wasn’t there yet. The bathrooms in this part of the terminal are all also single-user so the lines were insane. I actually went back into the main terminal and came back.
At 9:15am, the Adria A319 from Ljubljana arrived. Soon after, the SAS ground agents working the flight announced the flight would be completely full, and asked for volunteers to check their carry-ons. At 9:28am, boarding began – with no one stepping forward when elites and business class were called. A lot of families then boarded, and then they started calling row ranges, starting in the back. My zone was the last to be called, at around 9:35am.
The plane was one of three A319s in Adria’s fleet. The seat covers were dingy, and the plane was not in great shape. The first two rows were marked off as business class, and they ended up seating two passengers. As a coach passenger, I wasn’t able to select my seat until check-in. I had been assigned a middle seat towards the front of the plane, but was able to move myself to an exit row for free. It was not very roomy for an exit row, though the pitch was still a little better than other seats. There was duct tape on my tray table.
Adria was my 71st airline, and is not a very common one. I hadn’t realized that the airline long predates Slovenia’s independence- going back to the 60s. The backbone of its fleet is the CRJ900. Copenhagen is actually one of the longest scheduled flights in its network – at a whopping one hour and fifty-five minutes. The only longer flights are to Manchester and Amsterdam. In addition to its Ljubljana hub, the airline also operates out of Pristina and Tirana – two former Yugoslav capitals. It also does a big charter business, particularly to resorts in Egypt.
It’s more or less a low-cost carrier, with only buy-on-board service. I slept nearly the whole flight despite screaming kids in the row behind me, including one who kicked me, so I can’t comment on whether there was any free water or anything.
We pushed back at 9:53, about 25 minutes late. At 11:29am, we were on the ground, having made up most of the delay. Bags started coming off the belt at 11:47. Priority tags didn’t seem to matter, but mine was off at 11:49am, and then it was a one-minute walk outside to where I had pre-booked a GoOpti shuttle van to the city.
Although online it suggests you are buying a ticket for a specific time, it seems they really just constantly fill up vans as people arrive and send them on their way. It’s 10 EUR, with a discount if you prebook online. There’s a public bus, but it’s fairly infrequent and not much cheaper. I had to wait ten minutes for a 9-passenger van to fill up, and it was a pretty ride into the city- taking about 20 minutes covering 10 miles. My hotel, the Intercontinental, was the first stop.
I wouldn’t rush to fly Adria again, but I didn’t expect anything otherwise. For the short flight, it was fine.