Bulgaria Air, what connecting flights does it offer?Bulgaria air, being the national carrier of Bulgaria, is not a connecting flights oriented airline compared to its successor Balkan Airlines. It is rather a regional point-to-point airline, serving also as a feeder carrier of Air France / KLM, Brussels Airlines, Alitalia and others.
Bulgaria air operates directs flights out of Sofia Airport to major destinations in Europe such as Moscow, Athens, Berlin, London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Milan, Barcelona, etc. It also operates domestic flights to Varna 3-4 times a day and maintains a seasonal line to Bourgas airport during the summer. The line to Bourgas has some weird schedule, but sometimes good combinations are possible. With exception to Varna, Tel Aviv and Moscow, most of the other destinations are located towards the western part of Europe. This makes it rather inconvenient for connecting flights. Flying to Varna via Sofia is probably the most convenient connecting destination offered by Bulgaria Air.
Apart from lines operating by Bulgaria air, the airline also sells seats on code share flights with partner airlines operating out of Sofia Airport. Such are Belgrade (Air Serbia), Warsaw (LOT), Bucharest (Tarom) and others. In fact, if you book a flight on the airline's website, you will see both direct flights operated by Bulgaria air and options with a stop over on code share flights. Connections from Varna to Belgrade for example are possible on Bulgaria air tickets, but partly operated by Air Serbia.
From a convenience standpoint, Bulgaria air operates most of its flights from Sofia Airport (SOF) Terminal 2, which is newer, compact and overall a good terminal. In case it happens that your connection involves change of terminals, note that terminal 1, is located some 2 km away from terminal 2. A shuttle bus links both terminals, departing every 30 mins from a designated point in the outside area.
In the past years, during the 80s and late 90s, Bulgaria air's predecessor Balkan airlines was a strong connecting carriers, linking Asia, the Middle East and Africa with Western Europe via Sofia Airport. At some point during the 90s, Balkan airlines even maintained routes to North America, namely New York, Chicago and Toronto. The connections were rather inconvenient, with a frequency of once weekly to many of the destinations, fleet consisting of obsolete Russian Tupolev 154/134 planes or old-generation leased Boeing aircraft. Sofia Airport at that time (currently what operates as Terminal 1 for low cost carriers) was rather small, packed and badly organized, with an airport hotel located some 5-6 kilometers towards the city center (the former Pliska hotel). Passengers flying Balkan airlines at that time report that fares were considerably cheaper (sometimes even twice cheaper) compared to competitive carriers, which was the key to its success (and also its failure). In the late 90s, Balkan airlines was privatized and altough it underwent significant restructuring, it declared bancrupcy in 2001.