Featured Image: Simone Chellini/Airways

Trip Report: From Brussels to Bergen with Widerøe

DALLAS – Widely regarded as the European capital, Brussels hosts some of the world’s most important institutions. Home to Brussels Airlines (SN) and Air Belgium (KF), the city offers non-stop connections to many African destinations. 

Brussels also offers a good combination of low-cost, legacy, and hybrid carrier services to multiple destinations in mainland Europe. Today’s destination is perhaps one of the most unique cities served by the Belgian Airport (BRU), which is Bergen (BGO).

Brussels airport departures terminal. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways
Brussels airport departures terminal. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways

Widerøe Airlines

Widerøe (WF) flies its Embraer E190-E2s to Brussels (BRU) twice weekly, on Fridays and Mondays. The airline still carries the name of its founder and is headquartered in Bodø, Norway. Founded in 1934, WF provides an essential service to many Norwegian citizens, flying a fleet of Bombardier Dash 8s and Embraer E-jets to some of the world's most remote and scenic airports.

In 2018, the airline became the launch customer of the Embraer E190-E2, taking delivery of LN-WEA. WF started its E190-E2 operations on April 24, 2018, on the Bergen (BGO) - Trømso (TOS) route. Two more aircraft joined the fleet by June 2018, for a total of three airframes. 

In addition to being the launch customer of the E190-E2, WF is famous for its turboprop (Dash 8) fleet. The smaller, turboprop-powered aircraft connects the northernmost villages in Europe to Widerøe’s hubs.

Visiting the Dash 8 maintenance base is the reason why I am traveling to Norway today. I arrived in Brussels by a convenient and cheap train from Rotterdam. The Belgian capital was preparing for the European elections; in 48 hours, citizens would have been called to cast their votes. It was my first-ever visit to Brussels, and I expected some chaos at the airport.

The departures screen in Brussels. Photo: Simone Chellini
The departures screen in Brussels. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways

Airport, Check-in

The airport’s terminal is rather old and chaotic, with limited stores and food points before security. One detail I appreciated is the vintage board displaying the departures. Some airlines’ signposts can be spotted in front of the check-ins, most of which are dedicated to SN.

Widerøe allows passengers to check in 22 hours before flying. This can be done via the airline’s website or smartphone app. The app is excellently designed and provides all the information needed before flying. The physical check-in was supposed to open 2:30 hours before take-off, not giving much time to explore the past-security area here in BRU.

However, due to unclear delays, the desks only opened 1:45 hours before take-off. A long queue of passengers waited patiently, and unfortunately, no explanation was given by the airport staff.

Thankfully, clearing security was a breeze. The area past the security controls is quite limited, and there is not enough space for people to reorganize their belongings after the metal detectors. I headed to the gate and quickly checked the airport food prices, which were some of the highest I had ever seen. A croissant and espresso cost me almost seven euros, so I decided to have my lunch on board.

The view on the apron past security, featuring United’s Boeing 757 wearing the special “Her Art Here” livery. Photo: Simone Chellini
The view on the apron past security, featuring United’s Boeing 757 wearing the special “Her Art Here” livery. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways

In-flight

My aircraft today is LN-WEC, the third E-jet received by WF which can accommodate 110 passengers in a 2-2 signature configuration. The aircraft arrived from BGO with a good passenger load. On its way back, the load factor would have been even higher.

The 2-2 cabin on board Widerøe’s E190-E2. Photo: Simone Chellini
The 2-2 cabin configuration on board Widerøe’s E190-E2. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways

We boarded on time, and I reached my pre-selected seat, 23F. Each seat has a universal power outlet, a reclining mechanism, good legroom (for short flights) and a storage compartment for small items. 

Cabin impressions. The flight was not completely full. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways
The flight was not completely full. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways

There is no printed in-flight magazine, but WF has installed a personal in-flight entertainment system that can be accessed via personal devices through the aircraft’s Wi-Fi network. This comes with a small selection of movies, TV series, games and Norwegian newspapers. The system also offers an in-flight map and tourist guide for some Norwegian cities.

The flight map available on personal devices though Wi-Fi. Photo: Simone Chellini
The flight map is available on personal devices through Wi-Fi. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways

After a short taxiing time, we took off from runway 25R, correcting our heading northbound before flying above the Netherlands.

Flying above Amsterdam, with the recognizable Schiphol (AMS) area. Photo: Simone Chellini
Flying above Amsterdam, with the recognizable Schiphol (AMS) area. Photo: Simone Chellini

A complimentary coffee and tea service started soon. Snacks, meals, and drinks were available for purchase throughout the flight. Since I had no time (and no intention to overpay drastically) to get food in Brussels, I tried Widerøe’s lasagna, which at around USD $14 was a way better deal than anything I had seen at the airport.

My lunch, a lasagna alla bolognese. Photo: Simone Chellini
My lunch, a lasagna alla bolognese. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways

I found it quite tasty and perfectly sized for a meal. I proceeded to finally take some rest, as it had already been a long day of travel. The seat was quite comfortable for a quick nap.

Approaching Bergen with some stunning views. Photo: Simone Chellini
Approaching Bergen with some stunning views. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways

I woke up to the beautiful views of the Norwegian fjords. We had already started our descent into Bergen, and thanks to the southbound approach, we flew over countless little green islands before landing on runway 17.

Bergen Airport. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways
Bergen Airport. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways

Conclusions

Overall, this was a smooth and relaxed flight to one of Norway’s most beautiful cities. The passengers seemed to enjoy the beautiful approach and the aircraft’s IFE. The food and drinks are priced more competitively than some of the airports where WF operates in Europe. 

The cockpit of our aircraft today. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways
The cockpit of our aircraft today. Photo: Simone Chellini/Airways

Thank you Widerøe for a safe and punctual flight, and see you soon for more!

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