My flight to Vienna was direct on Austrian, but they don’t offer a direct return on Sundays (at least during the off season), so I had to connect. I found a connection through DC on Austrian in Business Class (with a return to Vienna a few months later in coach) for only $1,300. It was a great deal and since I’d be flying Business, I’d be earning double elite qualifying miles which is a great leap to retaining Platinum Status on United.
I arrived at the airport for my return flight home to Chicago after my quick and wonderful weekend in Vienna. The morning was a bit snowy but because I was taking the CAT (City Airport Train) I had no issues with traffic or timing. The CAT is really the best way to and from the Vienna Airport.
Arriving at the Airport, walking up the stairs into the main terminal where Austrian operates, you could easily miss the Business Class and Elite (HON Circle Members, Star Alliance Gold, etc) check-in area. While it is well marked, it is something you could just walk by and never notice. Not all of the check-in lines were open, but the ones that were had only about 4-6 people in line. Unfortunately, those lines didn’t move very fast and each person in front of me had more luggage than a refugee. Again, I decided to check my roller suitcase, as Austrian can be sticklers when it comes to hand luggage rules.
I made it through security and immigration pretty quickly and found my way to the Austrian Lounge – there are two lounges, one for Business Class Passengers and one for Star Alliance Gold. I was very disappointed when I was told I couldn’t enter the Business Class Lounge, because I was a Star Gold Member, even though I had a paid Austrian Business Class Ticket. The Star Gold Lounge was completely packed – not a single seat was available, people were standing around, it was miserable and reminded me of the Swiss Lounge at O’Hare.
I decided to pop over to the Priority Pass Lounge a few meters away. It sure wasn’t fancy, but I managed to get a seat and had a couple tomato juices and a bloody Mary before heading off to the gate. I left the lounge about 20 minutes before boarding and as I walked to the gate, I snapped the Boeing 767 that would take me to Washington.
The gate area was blocked off into a standard economy section and the business class section – you were put into your section after your passport and boarding pass were checked again. Boarding began about 25 minutes before our scheduled departure. There were about a dozen people who hopped on the plane before me. We boarded through door 1L.
Flight: Austrian Airlines OS93 (Business Class)
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300
Departure: 10h35 (11h50)
Arrival: 14h30 (15h31)
I was seating on the other side of the plane this time, in seat 7K – again, the seat closest to the window with the side table on the aisle, really, the best of the seating options on this flight.
As soon as I stowed my briefcase and sat down, I was approached by the flight attendant with water, apple juice and champagne as pre-departure beverage options. Of course I enjoyed a lovely glass of champagne while the rest of the plane boarded and our menus were distributed.
Like the previous flight, the chef came by and took our orders for lunch and the pre-landing snack while we were still on the ground, and I was served another glass of champagne. Unfortunately the snow had picked up and we were told we’d need to head over to be de-iced and we were fifth in line for the procedure. I started to get a little nervous since I did have a connection in DC and I really didn’t want to get home too late as I had to work the next day.
We waited on the de-icing pad for about 45 minutes until it was our turn. 15 minutes of de-icing and we were ready to take off. The snow was really limited and I was surprised that we actually needed to be de-iced, I think we’d have just taken off if we were on a US based flight, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.
About two hours after our scheduled departure time and about 45 minutes after we actually took off service began. I had another glass of champagne with some mixed nuts. The nuts were ice cold, which was a little disappointing – I think the warm airline nuts are a nice treat.
The meal service moved quite quickly. The antipasti trolley made it’s way down the aisle and I picked one of everything, excepted for the smoked salmon – I am really not a salmon guy. The octopus was quite good, and no one else on my aisle seemed to like it, so the flight attendant returned and offered me a substantial refill.
The next course was a very lovely tomato soup that was a little smokey and had a few small pieces of bocconcini mixed in. I was very nervous about eating this soup – a deep red tomato soup on a plane always makes me think I’m going to be wearing the soup with just a touch of turbulence. Luckily, I wasn’t covered in this tasty soup….this time.
For my main course, I had the Viennese style veal goulash, which had a shockingly sweet sauce. It wasn’t bad per se, it was just not at all what I was expecting and it actually paired horribly with the red wine the flight attendant suggested I have with this course. The sauce was sweet and the wine was extremely dry, making for a cloying combination. The spaetzle was really done perfectly though.
I was utterly stuffed after this course and couldn’t even bring myself to have cheese or dessert on this flight. Take a look at my previous Austrian flight review to see how that turned out – the desserts were exactly the same (which is why I chose to steer clear this time).
After lunch, I decided to watch some movies on the in-flight entertainment (IFE). Again, since I had just flown this product 4 days earlier the movie and (dismal) TV selection were unchanged. As I rewatched Murder on the Orient Express, I napped for a few hours. I didn’t want to get too much sleep because I had to work the next day, I tried to focus on getting reacclimated to the Central Time Zone. I also spent much of the flight watching TV shows on my tablet.
We ended up landing in DC about an hour later than scheduled, which meant we picked up about 30 minutes in the air. Many passengers had tight connections and deplaning was a bit of a mess. I got off pretty quickly, but then remembered the awful part of Dulles – those people movers that look like they belong on the moon. I don’t know if you can bypass these monstrosities and just walk, but I boarded these futuristic contraptions and waited. And waited. AND WAITED. It took about 30 minutes from the time I hopped aboard until we started to move, then once we stopped everyone began pushing to get off. Often times I’d rather have a long walk – at least I’m in control of that situation. Being at the mercy of these Star Wars style people movers just made my frustrated.
This was my first time flying Austrian Airlines westbound. Heading this direction you aren’t focusing so much on sleep as you are on the eastbound journey, so I was able to slow down and enjoy the product and the service of it all. I really do think that Austrian offers the best Star Alliance Business Class Product out of Chicago to Europe. I’ll have to expand my horizons and try British, Iberia, Air France or KLM soon though.
Have you flown Austrian Airlines in Business Class? Which direction is your favorite? Don’t you just love the onbaord chef and the BLAZING Red Uniforms of the cabin crew?