Airline Review: Brussels Airlines Longhaul Service from Brussels to Washington Dulles

by Brian on July 14, 2013

in Airline Reviews, Brussels Airlines, Star Alliance

Brussels Airlines flight 515 from Brussels to Washington DC (Dulles) operated with an Airbus A330-200

I recently flew the new non-stop Brussels Airlines flight from Brussels (BRU) to Washington, DC (IAD) and it was a great trip. Brussels started the route on June 18 and it now operates the service fives days per week with an Airbus A330-200. The flight offers a second non-stop flight option between BRU and IAD. Having flown United Airlines’ non-stop Boeing 777 service from IAD to BRU in economy class the week prior, I was excited to see how Brussels’ inflight economy class service compares to United’s product.

Initial impression

My experience with Brussels started off well. The check-in process was smooth and efficient. I picked up some Belgian chocolate at duty free and made my way to the Brussels Airlines lounge (access with my Star Alliance Gold status). The lounge was across from my departure gate B5. It was recently renovated with plenty of seating and a good selection of snacks and Belgian beers. Boarding began 50 minutes before the scheduled departure time.

Efficient check-in at BRU (left); the flight 515 Airbus A330-200 at gate B5 (right)

Sorry for the delay, how about some ice cream?

Although boarding was quick with everyone seated by the scheduled departure time (very full flight), a technical issue kept us sitting at the gate for over two hours. At one point, the pilot had to shut down all power to the plane and restart the engines. We sat on the plane for 10 minutes with no power. Midway through our delay, flight attendants passed out water and ice cream to help calm passengers who were growing frustrated with the reality of potential missed connections at IAD upon arrival.

And finally we’re off…

After more than two hours stuck on the plane at the gate, we finally left Brussels. My seat was in the forward economy class section. The interior of the A330 was clean with very well dressed fight attendants. The seats were standard economy variety with about 32 inches of pitch. Every seat featured an inflight entertainment system with a 9-inch screen. The on-demand movie selection was a little underwhelming, with a mix of only five French and English movies in each of the comedy/action/drama categories. The music selection was also somewhat limited.

Brussels Airlines 9-inch personal video screens at every seat in economy (left); the economy seats with average pitch (right)


Shortly after takeoff, flight attendants passed through the aisles with the first drink and meal service. The entree option was either spiced tilapia or Flemish beef stew. I opted for the beef and it was fairly good. The entree was served with a shrimp salad, cheese, bread, and chocolate mousse. The meal was much better than what United served on the way to Brussels. Complimentary wine and cocktails were also offered. Following the meal, drinks were set out in the rear galley for self-service during the flight. Prior to landing, a snack was served. It was a fairly tasty pre-packaged ham and cheese crepe.

Flemish stew in economy class – it was good!


Despite the delay, I would definitely choose the Brussels flight over United flight for my next trip to Brussels. The level of service in economy class is significantly higher than what United provides. For the equivalent price as United on the same route, the extra service enhancements on Brussels made it a more comfortable trip. Being a member of the Star Alliance, you can earn United miles for the Brussels flight so it’s just like flying United. Note, because the flight is so new, I had some trouble getting United MileagePlus credit due to a system issue at United. I called the MileagePlus Service Center and it was quickly corrected, but be sure to double check your account in the weeks after your trip to be sure you receive your miles!

Flight Time Details

The BRU to IAD flight operates five times per week using Airbus A330-200 aircraft. Brussels is a member of the Star Alliance and the flight carries a United codeshare flight number. Now with Brussels flying the route, travelers have two flight options five days a week between Brussels and Washington. The Brussels flight offers a late afternoon depature from BRU and a late evening departure from IAD. The times for United and Brussels are:

  • United BRU to IAD: depart 12:00 p.m. and arrive 3:00 p.m.; IAD-BRU depart 5:40 p.m. and arrive 7:00 a.m.
  • Brussels BRU-IAD dep 4:45 p.m. and arrive 7:30 p.m.; IAD-BRU depart 10:35 p.m. and arrive 12:10 p.m.

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