Air Europa, Economy

THE FLIGHT: From London Gatwick’s South Terminal to Havana, Cuba, via Air Europa's hub in Madrid. The first leg was operated by a B737-800 and the second, from Madrid to Havana, by an Airbus 330-300. I was flew in economy on both legs.

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THE CHECK-IN: A marvellously empty check-in area at Gatwick's South Terminal made a great start to the trip. Boarding was the usual jumble as no particular attempt was made to board via seat rows. The 90-minute connection to change terminals at Madrid Barajas was a close call but that was down to staff shortages at security.

THE SEAT: The service delivered basic economy class comfort in a 3-3 configuration, which was fine for both the first, 2hr 25min leg to Madrid and the nine-hour leg into Havana with a 2-4-2 seating configuration. Headphones were available (at a price) for the overhead screens. It was not an all-singing-all-dancing inflight entertainment system, since the airline sits somewhere between its low-cost routes and a regular full-service model.

THE SERVICE: Proactive service and cheerful crew made a positive impact on the experience. First they offered my taller colleague a spare seat in the emergency row, while plentiful passes of drinks, good main course food selections (chicken or pasta plus cheese, crackers and dessert) and a sandwich snack shortly before touchdown in Cuba made for a pleasant long-haul journey.

THE VERDICT:Overall, a good service and product at this price point from the Majorca-based airline. However, sending our luggage to Caracas and not Havana rather changed my view of the operation. The lost luggage department staff clearly require better customer service training to deal with such shortfalls in service.

THE DETAILS: Air Europa operates daily flights from Madrid to Havana with return fares in economy class starting from ¤532.36. Flights from London Gatwick to Madrid are twice-daily, with onward connections to South American destinations including Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Santa Cruz, Lima, Salvador and Caracas. Air Europa is part of the SkyTeam alliance. Tel 020 7384 7149; see: www.aireuropa.com.

Reviewed byGillian Upton (2015)