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What It’s Like Flying Air Europa Short-Haul in Europe [February 2024 Review]

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Ryan Smith
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Ryan Smith

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Ryan completed his goal of visiting every country in the world in December of 2023 and now plans to let his wife choose their destinations. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publicat...
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If you’re like me, you’ve seen Air Europa’s name multiple times as a member of the SkyTeam alliance and wondered more about it. However, I had never flown the Spanish airline until recently. After booking my flights, I had the same question you might have: What is flying Air Europa like?

Specifically, what’s it like for short-haul flights within Europe? Long-haul business class to the U.S. is likely a different beast; after all, airlines tend to put their best foot forward for those flights. But what would I get for 2 separate flights, both just over an hour, inside Europe?

Here’s a review of my experience flying Air Europa from Porto, Portugal, to Madrid, Spain, and onwards to Málaga, Spain, at the end of February 2024.

Air Europa Positives

Let’s start with what I liked about my 2 flights, which were both on Boeing 737-800 aircraft. My wife and I took both of these flights on the same day in a single reservation, from Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO) in Porto through Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) to Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport (AGP) in southern Spain.

On-Time and Organized

Both of our flights left on time, and the gate crew did one of my favorite things in the world: They turned away passengers who tried to board before their group was called. We had boarding group 3, and the people in front of us on the MAD-AGP sector had boarding group 5. When it was time to scan their boarding passes, the employees told them to get out of line and wait for their group. Fantastic!

Air Europa looking up center aisle on B737 800
Looking up the aisle from the rear of the plane.

Beyond the boarding process, check-in was organized, the bathrooms on the plane were kept clean, and everything the crew did felt organized, such as announcements and inflight services.

Air Europa lavatory on B737 800
One of the Air Europa lavatories on a Boeing 737-800.

Partner Booking Options

As a member of the SkyTeam alliance, Air Europa flights can be booked through all alliance partners, such as Delta SkyMiles or Flying Blue miles.

Air Europa wing tip on Boeing 737 800
Looking out the window from our seats.

Cheap Cash Fares Available

However, you may not want or need to book with partner miles. Cheap cash fares are available on many Air Europa flights within Europe. Most days of the week, nearly any time of the year, you can book the flights we took for $80 per person.

Air Europa cash cost OPO MAD AGP
Cash cost on most days of the week for the flights we took. Image Credit: Google Flights

Granted, you’ll pay more if you want to choose your seat, get a preferred seat with more legroom, or check a bag. But inexpensive fares on Air Europa are available.

Hot Tip:

When paying for a flight — or just paying the taxes and fees on an award ticket — pay with one of the best credit cards for airfare to maximize your rewards and benefits. I used The Platinum Card® from American Express, which earns 5x points per dollar spent on flights purchased directly with the airline or with (up to $500,000 per year, then 1x).

Space To Work

Unlike airlines I’ve flown with similar low-cost fares, the tray tables were still a great size. Here’s my 13-inch laptop on the tray table for comparison.

Air Europa 13 inch laptop on tray table
The tray table was bigger than my 13-inch laptop.

The seatback pocket was a generous size as well. This definitely wasn’t Ryanair, which you might think of when you see the cost of some Air Europa flights.

Air Europa laptop and documents in seat back pocket
My 13-inch laptop in the seat pocket with the airline’s literature.

Cheap Inflight Food and Drinks

Another thing that really surprised me was the cost of food and drinks for sale on the flights. I’m very used to U.S. airlines ripping me off for a few crackers with some hummus. Paying €5.50 (close to $6) for a muffin and a juice or coffee seemed pretty reasonable by comparison.

Air Europa economy pastries menu B737 800 MAD AGP
Breakfast items for sale during the flight.

Combos were available to save against the price of buying items individually.

Air Europa economy breakfast menu B737 800 MAD AGP
Some of the combos available for sale.

Air Europa Negatives

However, not everything was roses. There are a few areas where Air Europa left us wanting more.

Full-Service Cost, Budget Airline Amenities

It seems like every airline is cutting back on inflight services these days, and Air Europa was no exception. I wasn’t expecting a full meal on these short flights, but at least you get a drink and maybe a cookie on a short flight in the U.S. With Air Europa, we paid for anything we wanted to consume.

Air Europa economy sandwich menu B737 800 MAD AGP
Sandwiches on the inflight menu.

There also was no entertainment system at the seats … not even a music option accessed by plugging your headphones into the armrest.

Air Europa looking forward from mid cabin economy
The view from our seats on the Porto to Madrid flight. No entertainment systems to be found.

Minimal Space

In this aspect, Air Europa definitely felt like a low-cost airline. Spacing between rows of seats was tight. I’m 5 feet 10 inches tall, for reference, and my knees were nearly hitting the back of the seat in front of me. If you’re much taller, good luck.

Air Europa knee space in economy middle seat
I was glad I’m not any taller.

The planes had business class seats at the front, providing some extra space but not much beyond that.

Air Europa business class seats on B737 800
Business class at the front of the plane on a Boeing 737-800.

You can pay for “XL seats” in the exit rows. But anyone not forking over €30 to €40 or getting upgrades from elite status will wind up in the seats we had.

Air Europa standard seats and XL seats on B737 800
Standard seats in the front half of the plane.

Minimal Information From Employees

There was a desk agent on the phone at the check-in desk who was still on the phone when it was our turn to check in and remained on the phone throughout the process. Thus, he didn’t tell us anything at all. Not even the location of our gate, which seemed pretty important.

Air Europa check in at Porto OPO
Checking in at Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport in Porto, Portugal.

Air Europa very much felt like a do-it-yourself airline. The check-in agent simply waited for us to hand over our passports and put our luggage on the scale — no talking involved.

This sizer for hand baggage was available near the check-in desks, and you could test out your bag on your own. Beyond that, flight crews didn’t help passengers find their seats, chat with customers, or talk in any way that went beyond absolute necessity. There’s a happy medium between “lips are sealed” and “won’t shut up” for airline employees, and Air Europa could improve by moving into it.

Air Europa carryon bag size at check in Porto OPO
The carry-on bag sizer was available near the check-in desk.

Final Thoughts

We got from A to B efficiently, cheaply, and safely. At the end of the day, that’s what matters most. Were we impressed by Air Europa after our short-haul flights in Europe? Not really. But we also didn’t hate it.

We earned a few miles from paid flights, got where we wanted to go, and didn’t receive any frills along the way. Employees weren’t talkative by any stretch of the imagination, but at least they enforced boarding groups and didn’t overcharge for inflight food.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What alliance is Air Europa in?

Air Europa is part of SkyTeam, an alliance founded in June 2000.

Do you get Delta miles on Air Europa?

Air Europa flights in certain fare classes are eligible for earning Delta SkyMiles if you add your Delta SkyMiles membership number to the flight. You’ll earn based on flight distance, though certain fare classes are excluded.

Is Air Europa leaving SkyTeam?

In February 2023, International Airlines Group (the company that owns British Airways and Iberia) announced a plan to buy Air Europa. If approved by government regulators, Air Europa would likely leave SkyTeam and join Oneworld alongside other IAG airlines.

Do you get free food on Air Europa flights?

You’ll get a complimentary meal on transatlantic flights and in business class on medium-haul flights. For economy passengers on medium-haul flights and all passengers on short-haul flights, there is no complimentary meal service. However, food and drinks are available for sale on these flights.

Ryan Smith's image

About Ryan Smith

Ryan completed his goal of visiting every country in the world in December of 2023 and now plans to let his wife choose their destinations. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publications including AwardWallet, The Points Guy, USA Today Blueprint, CNBC Select, Tripadvisor, and Forbes Advisor.

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