by Luigi Vallero
Flight: F7 109
Route: Geneva [Genève] (IATA: GVA/ICAO: LSGG)–Rome [Roma] (FCO/LIRF)
Aircraft: EMBRAER ERJ 190-100 LR (HB-JQE)
ALL PHOTOS: LUIGI VALLERO
Baboo (FlyBaboo, AIRWAYS, July 2007) is now flying to Rome twice a day with recently delivered 100-seat ERJ 190s. In only a few years, this dynamic Swiss company has built a solid reputation as a quality air carrier, providing a consistent and contemporary product for its customers.
Check-in for this flight (code-shared with Alitalia) was handled by Swissport, and as I was at GVA two and a half hours before the STD of 1655, I had no queue to face and was issued my boarding pass in a flash.
Once through security, I spent some time around the recently renovated airside of Cointrin Airport, always a pleasant place for upmarket shopping, before heading to gate D25, located in one of the satellites that constitute one of the signature features of GVA.
Most passengers used the 'Baboo Lounge' area by the gate, featuring chaise longues, sofas, internet access, and plenty of reading material available for all Baboo customers.
The flight was called 20 minutes before STD, and I was surprised at the gate when the pleasant agent exchanged my boarding pass for a new one, with an upgrade to 'Smart' class.
Boarding 'Baboo Kisses' (the name of the E-Jet) was through the forward door, where Italian-speaking Valentina welcomed passengers with a warm smile to the stylish cabin, featuring a dark gray carpet, white walls and overhead bins, and distinctive cream-colored leather seats, highlighted by the 'hot' red Baboo fabric headrests bearing the intricate 'birds and flowers' pattern of the airline. Definitely an innovative look, which coupled with the informal yet elegant flight attendant uniform marks Baboo as a 'hip and cool' name.
The Smart section occupies the first five rows, differing from the rest of the cabin in terms of a very generous (for intra-European standards) 40in (102cm) seat pitch.
In the seat pocket I found a copy of the current 'Baboo Time' magazine, full of hints and suggestions on 'what's in and on' at the destinations served by the airline, and more akin to a stylish fashion magazine than standard airline literature.
We taxied out five minutes after STD, at 1700, and were airborne 12 minutes later.
During the climb to cruising altitude, the flight attendants sprung into action, offering a bottle of Evian water, Baboo's standard beverage.
Cabin service is the same for all passengers, and five minutes later Valentina returned with a cup of hearty and delicious hot vegetable soup, poured from a Thermos flask into paper cups.
Mont Blanc was shrouded in the afternoon haze, but in compensation for the lackluster view we enjoyed a slice of cake au fromage, offered from a tray, which constituted the main course of this light repast.
Pistachio-almond tartlets followed as we headed toward the Ligurian coast, followed by coffee over the Tyrrenian Sea. Before overflying the island of Elba, an Oshibori Baboo Fragrance towelette and a 'ChocoBoo' (chocolate) completed the service.
With the sun morphing into an orange sphere as it disappeared beyond the sea's western horizon, we began the descent to Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci).
Our pleasant flight ended at 1813, after one hour and one minute in the air. We stopped at a remote parking stand in front of the SkyTeam Terminal 1 eight minutes later and some ten minutes ahead of STA.
This flight confirmed my perception of Baboo as one of the best regional products available in Europe. The airline has developed a coherent image and provides a smart yet informal service, highlighted by professional and helpful cabin attendants. Definitely a 'class act' far away from any low-cost attitude, and a tribute to quality in a world where 'more cheap' seems to be the norm rather than the exception.
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