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Tim Foolery

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Monthly Archives: November 2018

Hotel Bristol: A Luxury Collection Property

After flying all day from Singapore, I found myself in Vienna at 18h30. I had booked myself a room on points at the Hotel Bristol right across from the Opera House. This is the only hotel I’ve stayed in while visiting Vienna. I love it. I even used Suite Night upgrades which cleared a week in advance. These upgrades moved me to an Opera Suite. I’ve been fortunate enough to ONLY stay in the beautiful Opera Suites at the Hotel Bristol.

I arrived straight away from the airport at 19h00, timing on transfers were perfect. Upon check in, the man working reception attempted to down grade me to a normal room because “you are just one person here for one night, you dont need this much space, it is too hot.” He was accurate, it was very hot in Vienna (33C), but I didn’t follow, nor like his logic. After a bit of discussion, he allowed me to stay in my original room.

Opera Suite

This time, my suite was on the third floor, with the same stunning view of the Wienner Staatsoper (Vienna Opera House).

Bristol Hotel Vienna - Opera House

The summer view from my Opera Suite at the Bristol Hotel Vienna

The room was quite warm and being in the room for less than 5 minutes a knock came at the door. It was hotel maintenance. He came to check on the air conditioning. Evidently these large suites don’t cool down as efficiently. He was here to make sure certain doors and windows were closed to ensure the bedroom area was as chilled as possible.

Ah…so that’s what the guy at reception was trying to say…

Bristol Hotel Vienna

Main seating area – a Formal Affair

Bristol Hotel Vienna

Seating and chandelier in the main room

Bristol Hotel Vienna Coffee Service

Coffee Service for a Coffee City

Bristol Hotel Vienna

The romantic fireplace in the Opera Suite

I didn’t spend much time in the room, since I had a flight home before 10h00 the next morning. Plus, I wanted to explore Vienna in the summer.

I slept well, albeit not very long. The hotel is really wonderful. The rooms are so perfectly appointed and the service is always on point. Plus, the views cant be beat!

Bristol Hotel Vienna - Master Bedroom

The Main Bedroom – Luxurious

Bristol Hotel Vienna

The perfectly appointed bedroom in the Opera Suite

Bristol Hotel Vienna

Twin Vanities in the Master Bath

Bristol Hotel Vienna

The large soaking tub

Bristol Hotel Vienna

The separate shower was a bit small, but still quite luxurious.

Bristol Hotel Vienna

Le Chemin Bath Products

Bristol Hotel Vienna

Small Guest Bath in the Opera Suite

Bristol Hotel Vienna

Small Guest Bath in the Opera Suite

Bristol Hotel Vienna

A second bathroom is a lovely luxury in a hotel.

Have you had the opportunity to stay at the Hotel Bristol? How are the standard rooms? What is your favorite hotel in Vienna?

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Vienna

I mentioned about some excitement on the way to Vienna from Bangkok recently.  I was flying home from spending 68 Hours in Singapore.  My return flight started in Singapore and I connected in Bangkok and Vienna before landing in Chicago.  The longest leg was from Bangkok to Vienna, which I flew Austrian Airlines Business Class.

fun·ny -/ˈfənē/
1. causing laughter or amusement; humorous
2. difficult to explain or understand; strange
So this story uses the second definition of funny of course.

Doctor on Board?

About half way through the flight, the cabin was dark, I was napping.  A flight attendant nudges me and says: “Entschuldigung, sind Sie Arzt?”  My college German classes didn’t fail me.  I knew she asked if I was a doctor.  I answered and she thanked me and moved on to the next passenger.  Everyone asked for more details, but she wouldn’t say any.
I was awake now, I decided to go to the washroom.  As I came out, I heard the pilot speaking with a flight attendant.  He mentioned their plan to land in Delhi, India, but the ill woman wouldn’t be allowed in India.  We need to find another airport.
Austrian Airlines Business Class Seat
I don’t know why we couldn’t land in India.  Would the woman be restricted from landing because of her nationality?  Who is restricted from visiting India?  Was her illness restricting her from landing?

If not India, where?

I sat back in my seat and saw that our flight path had changed. We were staying on a southern trajectory, straight toward Delhi.  I wanted another glass of wine at this point, so I headed back to the galley.  This time, the pilot and flight attendant were looking at a print out of the manifest.  They then said, as she was filling my wine glass, that the second airport wouldn’t work either.  The plan was to land in Tehran, but one passenger wouldn’t be allowed.  That one passenger was likely me, as I travel on a US passport.  The pilots mentioned that the crew would time out while on the ground and there weren’t any replacement pilots available until the next day.
This was a bit concerning to me.  Firstly, because if this woman needed medical attention, we need to get on the ground.  Secondly because I sure didn’t want to run into issues in Iran.
I return to my seat, with my very full glass of wine.  The passenger across the aisle from me, rings the flight attendant call button and tells them he’s a veterinarian.  He heads back to lend a hand.  After 10 minute he returns to his seat and tells us (we were all staring at him, looking for an update) that she’ll be fine and we can land in Vienna.  He then said that “people are just big animals” and let out a booming laugh.

Vienna it is

So we continued on to Vienna without another word about the ill passenger, until we landed.  An ambulance met us and took the passenger off.   Nothing else was mentioned about this.  Have you ever had a medical emergency while en route?  What about restricting landings in a medical emergency for diplomatic / passport issues?
I’m happy that this woman was healthy enough to make it to Vienna.  People were very curious as to what was happening, but they also respected her privacy and didn’t hover over her.
Have you ever had an emergency landing in a country where you weren’t welcomed?  Did you get off the plane? How was this situation handled?

Cell Phone Etiquette: Happier Podcast Critique

I’ve talked about ways I keep myself entertained while traveling before. Movies, TV shows and podcasts are my number one time killer while traveling. One of my favorite podcasts is Happier by self-described Happiness Bully Gretchen Rubin. Her weekly podcasts, which she co-host with her sister, Elizabeth Craft, give pointers on how to be happier.

Cell Phone Etiquette

This week, Gretchen and Liz tackled the topic of cell phone etiquette and how some people would interpret your actions as being rude, while others would think nothing of it. Gretchen posed a handful of questions to her sister on this topic – some I agreed with completely, while others I felt were just plain wrong. Here’s how it played out, with my commentery:


Gretchen: When you run into a friend while out and about, can you leave your ear buds in while you talk to them, even if your music/pod is turned off?

Liz: Take out one ear bud.

Tim’s Response: Couldn’t agree more. Show that you are engaged and not distracted.


Gretchen: Related question, at the store, when I am checking out. Can I leave my ear buds in. I’m of asking for help, the cashier is ringing up my items.

Liz: It is permissible to leave the ear buds in, if you give the cashier a nice smile.

Tim’s Response: No way. Just like before, turn off your entertainment, take our one ear bud and complete the transaction. These are people helping you. I don’t want small talk in this situation, but online it completely rude to shut off from people in the service industry. Plus, if the cashier has a question, they will likely have the repeat it once or twice all because you were too important to pause your distraction.


Gretchen: You are out walking your dog. Your dog and another start sniffing each other. Do you have to take the ear buds out and talk to the other dog owner?

Liz: Not if they don’t want to engage in a conversation.

Tim’s Response: If they want to engage, why must you? I don’t have a dog, but everyone in my neighborhood makes small talk while the dogs sniff around. Again, we are living on top of each other, we need to be a little more polite to each other. A couple minutes of idle, boring chatter isn’t going to kill you.


Gretchen: At dinner and the conversation drives you to a point where you want to look something up. Example: We love Shrek….wait, what year did that come out? Look it up.

Liz: 100% permissible as it is continuing the shared conversation. If you are checking your social media feeds, no, don’t donit.

Tim’s Response: Do it. Agreed. Be present in the conversation, don’t check out.


Gretchen: When someone shows you a picture on their phone, do you swipe to look at the other photos? I do it and it is rude.

Liz: It is rude. I’ve never done that.

Tim’s Response: Agreed, unless they preemptively give you permission. I accidently swiped too far and saw some very personal photos. Whoops!


Gretchen: When having a real world conversation and your phone rings or a notification buzzes. Do you check it or wait until the conversation is over?

Liz: I live in LA and we all accept that everyone just looks at their notification. It isn’t rude.

Tim’s Response: This one is tough for me. I say if the phone rings (which happens so rarely for me), see who it is. Notifications are different. Wait until the polite conversation is over and then check. If you are expecting an important call or message, let your friend know that you need to check something if/when it comes in.


Gretchen: If you are on a train, for example, your phone rings. Do you answer your phone? Do you answer and say “Hi, I’m on the train, what’s going on?” This gives the caller notice that you can’t fully talk, and acknowledges that you know you can’t really talk, so your fellow passengers aren’t angry.

Liz: Yes. That is fine.

Tim’s Response: Agreed. Unless you are in the quiet car. Then don’t answer. Also, depending on the train ride length, call them back once you are off the train. I have a quick SMS setup so when someone calls, I can shut the call down by texting them “I’m on the train. Will call you back when I’m off.” This works wonders for me.


Now some of the responses were indeed a bit more in-depth than the summary I’ve provided. Go listen to the pod to get the full picture. What do you think? Do you agree with their thought? Am I completely off base here? How would you respond?

Austrian Airlines Business Class BKK-VIE

My flight home from my 68 Hours in Singapore was a bit of a round about experience.  Leaving Singapore to Bangkok, I continued on to Vienna.  I’ve flown Austrian Airlines in Business Class a few times before and was looking forward to trying it again.  I left the Thai Airways Business Class Lounge about 50 minutes before scheduled departure.  The boarding area was utterly packed with passengers.

People were getting a bit restless, as announcements were made about early boarding. People would line up, then another announcement saying we weren’t boarding. This happened two times before we actually boarded.  There were many people traveling with children too.  These false starts really got the children confused and frustrated.

Bangkok Airport Boarding Area

Very Crowded Boarding Area in Bangkok

On Board

I boarded early, as I usually like to do.  A single seat wasn’t available, I had to sit in the middle area in the two-seat section.  I could have moved to a single seat, but it would have cost me an additional €500.  It wasn’t worth it to me.

Austrian Airlines Business Class Seating Boeing 777

Business Class Seating on Austrian Airlines

Our seats already had pillows, blankets and the amenity kits waiting for us.  After I got settled, the flight attendant came up with menus.  She introduced herself to me and I attempted to speak German, as I usually do when flying Austrian.  My college level German gets me far enough on a flight, but it’s just utilitarian, not conversational.  I started off my journey with some sparkling wine and some still water.

Austrian Airlines Legroom

Business Class Legroom on Austrian Airlines

Austrian Airlines Pre Departure Beverage

Pre-departure beverage with seat controls

The flight was pretty full, but I was fortunate enough to NOT have a seat mate.  I’m so happy I didn’t pay extra for a single seat.  Even if I did have a seat mate, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world.  The seats are large and while not very private, Austrian Airlines Business Class is still pretty great.

The flight time to Vienna from Bangkok is 11 hours and 30 minutes.  One of my main disappointments when I fly Austrian Airlines is that the flight from Chicago to Vienna just isn’t long enough. I want a little more time to rest, relax and enjoy the Business Class product. This flight gives me a bit more time and I was going to love it.

Meal Service

Austrian Airline’s crew includes an on board chef.  Before take off, the chef meets with every Business Class Passenger, explaining the menu and taking orders.  It is a nice additional service, although not really necessary.  It’s this aspect that I like the most I think.

After departure, drinks are served and the food service begins.  I like the antipasti trolley that wheels through the cabin.  You select the exact appetizers you want to try.  I selected all options, of course!

Antipasti Selection on Austrian

Antipasti selection, including marinated prawns, herbed chicken breast, feta cheese, Thai beef salad, maki and crab cakes.

The meal service continued for the next 90 minutes.  It was efficient and friendly.  Austrian does a good job of ensuring that your wine glasses are never dry too.

Austrian Airlines Red Lentil Soup

Red lentil soup with olive ciabatta croutons.

Main course - Stir Fried Beef on Austrian Airlines

Stir Fried Beef, ginger oyster sauce, egg fried rice.

Austrian Airlines Dessert Chocolate Cake

Dessert of Chocolate Cake

With the meal over, the we had about eight hours until we landed in Vienna.  I spent the rest of the flight watching movies, TV shows and napping. I really didn’t want to get much sleep as we’d be landing in Vienna at 19h00 and I sure didn’t want to be up all night.

Other than a little bit of excitement midway through the flight, our time in air was quiet and uneventful.  We landed 20 minutes early, but were requested to remain seated while a passenger was taken off the plane by paramedics.  More on that story in another post.

Wrap Up

Flying in Business Class on Austrian Airlines is still exciting and fun for me.  It isn’t the world’s most avant garde product, but the service is smooth and efficient.  The wine and food is good and the seats are really comfortable in both seated and bed positions.

Have you flown Austrian Airlines from Asia?  What is your favorite Business Class product out of Bangkok?

 

Changes to United Club Access

The United Club membership offers a great opportunity to escape the madness of the airport.  With complimentary alcoholic beverages and light snacks coupled with comfortable seating and ample power outlets, these lounges allow you to recharge on many levels.  Check out the changes to United Club access policy before you stop by.

Starting November 1, Club Members will need to show a same day United Boarding Pass before entering the club.  Historically, you could still access the United Club if you were traveling on another airline.  I usually fly United exclusively for domestic travel, but on the off chance that I would fly American or Delta, I’d still pop into the United Club.  That’s all changed.

United Club

Pre-Vacation United Club Bloody Mary and Banana. Breakfast of champions.

This isn’t really a shocker though. Delta and American both made these changes earlier this year too.  It makes sense in some respect, but if you are buying an annual Club membership, you’d want to have access to use the lounge anytime you are flying.

This change seems pretty reasonable, but it could sure make for a frustrating surprise if you aren’t expecting it.  Don’t show up to the airport early, expecting to enter the United Club if you aren’t flying on United!

Will this impact your travel plans at all?