Category Archives: Austrian

Tokyo for the New Year: Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago (VIE to ORD)

Austrian Airlines Business Class Chicago to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Schengen Lounge Vienna
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Vienna to Prague
Turkish Airlines Regional Business Class Prague to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Tokyo Narita
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel
Ushigoro
Hilton Narita
Narita-san Shinsho-ji
Swiss Business Class Tokyo Narita to Zurich
Park Hyatt Zurich
Oneworld Lounge Zurich Airport
Swiss Business Lounge Zurich Airport
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Zurich to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago


OS 65
Vienna (VIE) to Chicago OHare (ORD)
Thursday, January 2nd
Depart: 10:15am
Arrive: 2:00pm
Duration: 10h 45m
Boeing 767-300
Seat: 3K

I had already flown Austrian Airlines Business Class across the Atlantic at the beginning of my trip, and I was generally disappointed by the experience. The lauded food and coffee service was lacking because the airline failed to plan its staffing appropriately, and the actual service provided by the flight attendants was indifferent at best. This time around, my flight had the full food and coffee menu, and the food was actually quite good, but the service was absolutely horrid, and several flight attendants need serious retraining.

I was offered a pre-departure beverage and chose Austrian’s cocktail, which was okay. I settled into my seat, and everything about the hard product on Austrian is slightly better than that of Swiss, as it seems a little newer, the screen is better quality (although the selection is worse), the screen is a touch screen, and the seat controls are nicer.

My seat, 3K

My seat, 3K

In-flight entertainment screen

In-flight entertainment screen

Seat controls

Seat controls

Pre-departure beverage

Pre-departure beverage

I started noticing deficiencies in the service almost immediately with the onboard chef. He was the meanest, least helpful crewperson I’ve seen onboard a plane in any class of service. He was extremely gruff and curt, and he was completely unwilling to engage in conversation. I overheard people asking him for recommendations, and he seemed exasperated that someone would even bother to waste his time. He would also tell passengers things like, “I’m just the chef on board, I can’t help you with that”, and not offer to find someone who could help.

Beyond the terrible service of the chef, no one else on the crew seemed to be at the standard of an international business class product. I had to ring my call button multiple times to get trash taken away, and even when I would ring the button and I would ask the person to take certain items, they wouldn’t take everything so I’d have to ask someone else. If you needed to go to the bathroom during a meal service, they wouldn’t get out of the way, nor would they make room for you in the galley. And I didn’t get a single response to a pleasantry or a thank you.

Main menu for the flight

Main menu for the flight

Second service menu

Second service menu

Service aside, the food was actually quite good. The appetizers were all pretty tasty, to the point where I wouldn’t mind paying for that sort of food on the ground. I opted to get the soup, which I’d say was considerably better than the soup that I tried in the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, and the chocolate dessert was probably the best dessert I’ve ever had on a plane. The entree was a little bit tasteless, though.

Appetizer cart

Appetizer cart

Selection of appetizers

Selection of appetizers

Pumpkin soup

Pumpkin soup

Entree

Entree

Dessert cart

Dessert cart

Dessert

Dessert

I was also able to enjoy the coffee menu. It seems more like a gimmick than anything else, but it can be a fun complement to dessert. (As an aside, I was a bad trip reporter and slept through the pre-arrival meal service.)

Coffee menu part 1

Coffee menu part 1

Coffee menu part 2

Coffee menu part 2

Wiener eiskaffee

Wiener eiskaffee

Overall, I really, really wanted to like Austrian given their great hard product and good food, but the service is the worst I’ve experienced in any international business class product. They have so much to offer, but I never felt the sense that the flight attendants were there to serve or make my flight more pleasant. I know that many others rave about Austrian, so perhaps I should chalk up my two bad flights to bad luck with crews, but Austrian will definitely be at the bottom of my list of airlines to fly in the future.

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Tokyo for the New Year: Austrian Airlines Business Class Zurich to Vienna (ZRH to VIE)

Austrian Airlines Business Class Chicago to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Schengen Lounge Vienna
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Vienna to Prague
Turkish Airlines Regional Business Class Prague to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Tokyo Narita
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel
Ushigoro
Hilton Narita
Narita-san Shinsho-ji
Swiss Business Class Tokyo Narita to Zurich
Park Hyatt Zurich
Oneworld Lounge Zurich Airport
Swiss Business Lounge Zurich Airport
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Zurich to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago


OS 568
Zurich (ZRH) to Vienna (VIE)
Thursday, January 2nd
Depart: 7:40am
Arrive: 9:15am
Duration: 1h 35m
Airbus 320
Seat: 4A

I’m always amazed at the amount of food served by non-US carriers on such short flights. On my flight from Zurich to Vienna, which has a flight time of roughly an hour, one flight attendant did a full hot meal service in business class. Granted, there were only two of us in business class, but it’s still a full hot meal in less than an hour.

This flight featured slim-line seats, which many people have complained about, but I think are actually pretty cool on shorter flights since it does mean that you get considerably more legroom. After about two hours on these seats, though, your butt definitely feels it.

Seats on the A320

Seats on the A320

View back to economy class

View back to economy class

Slimline seats

Slimline seats

Even though there were only two of us seated in business class, they had eight rows blocked off for business class. Economy class also ended up being somewhat full, so it was a bit comical to see eight rows for two people while the back of the bus was pretty crowded.

My window seat also afforded me a good view of deicing in action, and the flight was delayed for a short while to get deiced.

De-icing action

De-icing action

As stated before, the flight attendant served a hot breakfast in business class, and they even had a special VGML for me. This wasn’t fancy, but it was much appreciated given that there wasn’t any hot food in the lounge, and the food was definitely adequate for such a short flight.

Hot breakfast

Hot VGML breakfast

Overall, flying short-haul international business class is always a treat just to see the service. The seats are economy seats, but it’s always so amazing to me how much the flight attendants accomplish in such a short period of time when certain US legacy carriers don’t even serve hot meals on flights up to 3.5 hours.

Tokyo for the New Year: Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Vienna (VIE) to Prague (PRG)

Austrian Airlines Business Class Chicago to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Schengen Lounge Vienna
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Vienna to Prague
Turkish Airlines Regional Business Class Prague to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Tokyo Narita
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel
Ushigoro
Hilton Narita
Narita-san Shinsho-ji
Swiss Business Class Tokyo Narita to Zurich
Park Hyatt Zurich
Oneworld Lounge Zurich Airport
Swiss Business Lounge Zurich Airport
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Zurich to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago


OS 705
Vienna (VIE) to Prague (PRG)
Friday, December 27th
Depart: 9:50am
Arrive: 10:45am
Duration: 55m
Aircraft: Dash 8
Seat: 2A

I made my way to the gate for my next flight to find that we would be bussing to a remote stand. Given the size of the plane, everyone on the plane shared the same bus, so no separate bus for premium passengers like you get in Doha on Qatar.

Remote stand boarding

Remote stand boarding

Since this was regional business class, the seats are the same, but there weren’t even blocked middle seats since the plane seating configuration was 2-2. As far as I could tell, this meant that every business class passenger got two seats to themselves, but the Russian couple in front of me sat next to each other in the first row, so I’m not sure if those were the seats they were assigned or they decided to move to sit next to each other.

My seat, 2A

My seat, 2A

Exit row seats at the front of the plane

Exit row seats at the front of the plane

Considering that the flight is blocked for 55 minutes but the actual flight time is only 35 minutes, I had no problem with the seats, and I enjoyed the views we got taking off from Vienna and landing in Prague.

Vienna

Vienna

Soon after takeoff, a flight attendant started the service for the flight. I’m always surprised by the amount of service that essentially all non-US carriers do in such short periods of time (see Qatar from Doha to Dubai as another example) when carriers like US Airways don’t even serve meals on flights under 3.5 hours. But I was even more surprised when the flight attendant asked if I had ordered a vegetarian meal, as there was a VGML sandwich for me. Also crazy considering that most US carriers won’t even do special meals for some international routes!

VGML

VGML

Decently tasty hummus and vegetable sandwich

Decently tasty hummus and vegetable sandwich

My sandwich was simple but tasty, and it was definitely more palatable than my terrible VGML meals on my flight from ORD to VIE on Austrian. And the flight attendants on this very short flight were also much friendlier than the flight attendants on my long-haul flight.

Pretty much as soon as I was done eating, it was time to begin the descent, and the flight was soon over. Sure, the seat is nothing special, but the service on some of these short hops makes me wonder why it seems like the US airlines can’t even be bothered…

Tokyo for the New Year: Austrian Airlines Business Class Schengen Lounge Vienna (VIE)

Austrian Airlines Business Class Chicago to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Schengen Lounge Vienna
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Vienna to Prague
Turkish Airlines Regional Business Class Prague to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Tokyo Narita
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel
Ushigoro
Hilton Narita
Narita-san Shinsho-ji
Swiss Business Class Tokyo Narita to Zurich
Park Hyatt Zurich
Oneworld Lounge Zurich Airport
Swiss Business Lounge Zurich Airport
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Zurich to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago


Since I was connecting to a Schengen flight, I cleared immigration and security and then headed to the Austrian Airlines Business class lounge in the Schengen area.

My first order of business, as it usually is after getting off a long-haul flight, was to take a shower, and I was glad to see that a Schengen lounge had multiple showers available. It seems like a lot of people had the same idea as I did, though, as there was a waiting list for the shower by the time I was done, and it looked to be all people who were on my same flight.

The shower room was perfectly functional, although it didn’t have a toilet. But it was clean, not too stuffy, and the water temperature and pressure were good, which is all I really need in a shower room.

Shower room (1 of 2)

Shower room (1 of 2)

After showering, I explored the lounge. It’s worth noting that there appeared to be separate lounges for business class, Senator (Star Alliance Gold), and first class, with business class being the “worst” or least premium. But for a business class lounge in a relatively small airport, I thought that the amenities were pretty good. Beyond the showers, there were work stations, a relaxation room, plenty of seats, and fast wifi.

Computer stations

Computer stations

Recliner in relaxation room

Recliner in relaxation room

TV area

TV area

Lots of seating

Lots of seating

Bar area

Bar area

The biggest thing that I found lacking was the food options. I was there during breakfast hours, and all there was to eat was some breads, yogurt, and cereal. I didn’t partake as I had eaten the pre-arrival meal on my flight to Vienna and thought that they would probably feed me on my next flight as well, but you’re probably not going to find anything too satisfying within the lounge.

Cold drinks

Cold drinks

Alcohol

Alcohol

Breads and snacks

Breads and snacks

Breakfast

Breakfast

Overall, it’s good for what’s essentially a business class domestic lounge as there are showers, plenty of seating, and fast wifi. But it’s not a place I would go out of my way to visit by any means.

Tokyo for the New Year: Austrian Airlines Business Class Chicago to Vienna (ORD to VIE)

Austrian Airlines Business Class Chicago to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Schengen Lounge Vienna
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Vienna to Prague
Turkish Airlines Regional Business Class Prague to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Tokyo Narita
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel
Ushigoro
Hilton Narita
Narita-san Shinsho-ji
Swiss Business Class Tokyo Narita to Zurich
Park Hyatt Zurich
Oneworld Lounge Zurich Airport
Swiss Business Lounge Zurich Airport
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Zurich to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago


OS 66
Chicago (ORD) to Vienna (VIE)
Thursday, December 26th
Depart: 4:10pm
Arrive: 8:40am +1
Duration: 9h 30m
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300
Seat: 6A

This was the first long-haul segment from a recent trip to Tokyo that I did by booking a 90k US Airways business class ticket to North Asia transiting via Europe. I flew Austrian, Swiss, and Turkish in business class for the first time, and I had overnight layovers in Zurich and Chicago on the way back.

Of all of the airlines I was scheduled to fly on this trip, I was initially most excited to fly Austrian Airlines. I had read that their catering, hard product, and service were phenomenal, and that it was one of the best business class products out there (they don’t offer a first class product). As far as I know, they’re also the only airline to advertise having a coffee menu, and a friend strongly recommended that I get a wiener eiskaffee from the coffee menu.

Unfortunately, in the month of December, there were service cuts to Austrian’s product due to poor staff planning, so many of the things that I was looking forward to did not materialize on this flight. Specifically, the meal service was limited, there wasn’t a coffee menu, and the service as a whole was pretty lacking. Anyway, on to the report.

My inbound flight to Chicago was delayed, so I unfortunately didn’t have much time to check out any of the lounges in Chicago, as my flight was already boarding by the time I had schlepped my way to the international terminal and recleared security. This also meant that the cabin was mostly full by the time I got on board, which made picture-taking a little harder.

I was seated in 6A, and row 6 is probably the least desirable row for the window seats because row 6 is missing a window. The even rows also have the seat closer to the aisle while the odd rows have the seat closer to the window, but 6A was all that was available for a window seat when I had my seat assigned a couple of months prior.

My seat, 6K

My seat, 6A

The seat itself feels new, and there’s a good amount of space per passenger. I appreciate having the “shelf” space next to the seat to place things throughout the flight, and you can use the small amount of floor space to place a small bag and not impinge on your own foot space. The seat controls were fine, although some of the functions felt useless (e.g. “massage” didn’t seem to do much). The seat is essentially an air cushion, and you’re supposed to be able to adjust the firmness or softness of the seat, but the controls didn’t seem to work for me, and I would periodically feel the seat moving beneath me, which occasionally disturbed my sleep throughout the flight.

Seat controls

Seat controls

In-flight power and amenity kit

In-flight power and amenity kit

The in-flight entertainment screen was large, had good resolution, and was a touch screen that was easy to use; however, the selection was quite limited. There weren’t very many movies, and even though they boast over 100 hours of programming, that’s really quite limited in the airline industry (e.g. Etihad has over 675 hours of on-demand entertainment).

Nice large touch screen for IFE

Nice large touch screen for IFE

Open cabin

Open cabin

The table was a little tricky to use at first, because it’s not particularly easy to take it in or out, but there were helpful instructions for the seat. The trick to lower the armrest is also key for sleeping comfort to make the seat feel a little bit wider, as it’s pretty narrow as is.

Instructions for the seat

Instructions for the seat

Not sure why anyone would consider paying 50 euro for this...

Not sure why anyone would consider paying 50 euro for this…

Instead of the normal trolley service for the meal service which would generally offer about 6 choices for appetizers and 3 desserts, the menu offered two choices for appetizer and one dessert, and everything was served on trays. I had pre-ordered a vegetarian meal to see what it’d be like. In general, Austrian takes pride in their food offerings since they’re catered by Do & Co and they have an onboard chef, but it seemed more gimmicky than anything else, and the chef wasn’t the friendliest person in the world.

Menu part 1

Menu part 1

Menu part 2

Menu part 2

The chef taking orders

The chef taking orders

I’ll just go ahead and say that my VGML was pretty bad. Yes, I know I should expect these things, but I actually think that United does a pretty good job with vegetarian meals, and I was hoping that Do & Co would do an even better job. Anyway, the appetizer was a salad of iceberg lettuce, the entree was a mishmash of flavorless oversteamed vegetables, and the dessert was just fruit. There seemed to be very little effort involved in the creation of this meal. I’ll also say that the meal service took a loooong time. I waited so long between getting my appetizer and entree that two different flight attendants attempted to clear my tray thinking that I had already finished my meal when I hadn’t even gotten my entree.

VGML starter

VGML starter

VGML entree

VGML entree

VGML dessert

VGML dessert

At the end of the meal, I asked the chef if they had the coffee menu, and he said, “not on this flight”, without any additional explanation. I later found out that others on Flyertalk had reported receiving letters detailing offers of compensation for the diminished service, but there was no such letter on board my flight and no flight attendants were forthcoming as to why there was diminished service. (I later tweeted my disappointment to Austrian, and they said they would investigate follow up, but it’s been about a week and I haven’t heard anything yet).

I put the seat into bed mode, and I found it to be pretty comfortable, although I can see how larger people would find issues with the seat. I’m a pretty small guy, and just lying down on my back my arms touched the sides of the seat, so I found it at times more comfortable to sleep on my side so I wouldn’t feel the narrowness as much. The foot cubby would also be problematic for people with larger feet, as I occasionally felt constricted by the space. But it’s a lie-flat seat, and everyone has direct aisle access, which is a pretty good deal in my book.

Two hours prior to arrival, they served the second meal. My VGML meal was marginally better than the first meal service, mostly because I got a pretty tasty smoothie to go with it. But the hot food itself was pretty flavorless and mushy, so I used the salt and pepper liberally.

VGML pre-arrival meal

VGML pre-arrival meal

All in all, this flight was a huge disappointment. The hard product was quite good–the seat is great for business class, and the in-flight entertainment screen is large and of good quality–but the service was seriously lacking in many respects. The meal service was disappointing, there was no coffee menu, and the IFE options were limited, but the service itself was also pretty terrible, as the flight attendants were almost uniformly unfriendly and inattentive. Nobody would take away trash at the seat, the meal service took forever, I never received refills on my drinks, when I would go to the galley to ask for something the flight attendants would ignore me until I literally had to poke them, and the flight attendants never engaged in pleasantries like saying “you’re welcome” after I thanked them. And even though other people reported receiving proactive offers of compensation, there was nothing on this flight.