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Tim Foolery

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Austrian Airlines Business Class VIE-ORD

After leaving the lounge, I made my way to to my flight. I love Vienna airport. It is quite small, but has lots unique destination, like Yereven, Lviv and Tehran. As I arrived at the gate and we were herded into two seating areas: Business Class and Economy. Boarding commenced shortly after the planned time.

Teheran Gate at Vienna Airport
Maybe I will go to Tehran after all
Austrian Airlines Boeing 767
My ride to Chicago. Austrian Boeing 767

Boarding

The surprisingly unorganized boarding process had passengers rushing the podiums trying to board first. The young Austrian employees looked quite overwhelmed by the confusion that ensued. I sat back until it was all sorted out. I usually want to board and get settled early in the process. but not when it is mayhem.

Once I reached my seat 7A, I stowed my hand luggage and settled in for the 10.5 hour flight to Chicago. I’ve taken this flight several times before and just love the service and the experience in general. I almost always attempt to speak German exclusively whilst on board. Two and a half years studying in college gets me along well enough on the plane and in hotels.

The woman sitting across the aisle from me was in a mood. I could tell that she would be awful from jump. As the Purser walks around and introduces herself to all Business Class passengers, this woman continuously rang her call button. First she couldn’t find her amenity kit – it was immediately in front of her.  Secondly, she wanted the different amenity kit (the pouch, not the shoe bag). Then she wanted to know the flight time. This is all within 10 minutes of boarding. Dozens of people heading to the economy cabin filed past us.

The chef made her rounds next. After handing out menus she returned and talked to each of us about the service. Austrian uses DO&CO for their on board offerings. They are my absolute favorite airline catering group. I selected the Viennese Tafelspitz for my entree.

As boarding continued, I had a couple glasses of sparkling wine and bookmarked the various programs on the In Flight Entertainment (IFE) System that I wanted to watch on this trip. Bookmarking the shows and movies you want is a great feature that most other airlines don’t do. It saves a ton of time on the flight.

Windowless Business Class Seat on Austrian
My windowless Business Class Seat on Austrian
Windowless Business Class Seat on Austrian
Alternate angle – Business Class Seat on Austrian Airlines.

The doors closed and we pushed back two minutes early.  It was a short taxi and a quick take off. Before I knew it, we crossed 10,000 feet and the flight crew sprung into action.

On Board Service

The crew delivered an additional glass of sparkling wine along with warm nuts. After the table was set and the appetizer trolley rolled out. I do love selecting from the half dozen different items available. The seat side plating is a nice touch. It seems much more personalized and less factory style service.

The rest of the meal was served with efficiency, but like every other time I’ve flown Austrian, the meal takes the right amount of time. It isn’t hurried, nor does it drag on for too long.

Catering on Austrian Airlines - Antipasti from the Trolley
Antipasti from the Trolley
Catering on Austrian Airlines - Creamy Carrot Ginger Soup
Creamy Carrot Ginger Soup
Catering on Austrian Airlines - Viennese Tafelspitz on Austrian Airlines
Viennese Tafelspitz on Austrian Airlines
Catering on Austrian Airlines - Cheese and "Exotic Fruits" from the Trolley
Cheese and “Exotic Fruits” from the Trolley

The woman across the aisle from me continued her shenanigans. Her entree was delivered and she ate nearly three-quarters of it. Then she rang for the flight attendant, complaining that it wasn’t good and she wanted another option. She did this twice. Finally, her third entree was taken from the pre-arrival options. This loud, brash woman, consumed most of three entrees. The crew couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating. This passenger was awful.

After the meal, I turned on a movie and decided to take a little nap. Hell, it is vacation, right?

The rest of the flight was lovely and uneventful, until….

Pre-Arrival

As the pre-arrival meal was being prepared, the woman across the aisle, who was served long before me, pulled the same game with the food. She ordered, ate and returned two entrees. She finally settled on the third being to her liking. All before I was served.

That’s where Austrian really failed. There was no more food for me. Not saying they didn’t have a choice for me to select from, there was absolutely no more food available.  It was quite surprising.  I asked for a snack from the Economy Cabin and was told that they ran out of food in the back too.  There was nothing at all left on the plane for me to eat.

When flying coach, I usually skip the pre-arrival snack as it is just not worth the time or energy, but usually in Business Class, there is something worthwhile.  What really angered me, was that if this woman hadn’t eaten multiple entrees at each seating, I would have had something to eat.  Austrian should have served all passengers before replacing meals, don’t you think?

We land at O’hare and arrive at the gate 15 minutes early.  Unlike most of the flights on this trip, I was ready to get off this flight.  I wasn’t tired of flying or the overall experience was bad.  I was just frustrated with my fellow passenger and didn’t want to deal with her any more.  

My trip around the world came to an end as I quickly walked to customs and the Global Entry Kiosks.  One of the reasons I love O’Hare is that you go from sitting in your seat on board the flight to the taxi line at the International Terminal in less than 10 minutes. 

Have you flown Austrian Airlines Business Class before?  How many times has the Airline ran out of food?

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Vienna Airport Lounges

Leaving the Hotel Bristol at 08h15, I was at Vienna International Airport by 09h10. Passing through security and immigration was a breeze and I found myself at the Austrian Airlines Business Class Lounge about 40 minutes before our scheduled boarding time.

A Tale of Two Lounges

The Vienna Airport Lounges are interesting to me. There is the Business Class Lounge and the Star Alliance Lounge. Each time I fly in Business, I am relegated to the Star Alliance Lounge. The only explanation I get is that I have to go their since I do gave Star Gold Status.

While this is indeed true, I am flying Business Class and think I should be allowed in that Lounge. The Star side is utterly packed. Each time I enter this lounge, I find that every single seat is occupied and people are just standing around like vultures, waiting for a seat to open. It isn’t relaxing. Usually, I’ll just pop over to the Priority Pass Lounge next door, which looks like a mediocre restaurant at a mall. At least I can sit though.

This time was different, I was admitted to the Business Class side of the lounge.

Vienna Airport Lounge

Booze selection available at the Business Class Lounge

Vienna Airport Lounge

Breakfast Breads at the Austrian Business Class Lounge

Vienna Airport Lounge

Tea selection at Austrian Airlines Business Class Lounge

It wasn’t stellar, but I did get a seat. I also grabbed a pastry, some sparkling wine and the Monday edition of Le Monde.

Vienna Airport Lounge

Lounge water, bubbles and newspaper

I spent only about 20 minutes in the lounge then took the long walk to my gate.

Teheran Gate at Vienna Airport

Maybe I will go to Tehran after all

Austrians Business Class Lounge is head and shoulders better than their Star Lounge, but it sure isn’t anything to arrive early for. Show up early enough to grab a newspaper and a glass of bubbles and call it good.

Austrian Airlines Boeing 767

My ride to Chicago. Austrian Boeing 767

Which Lounge is your favorite in Vienna? Have you ever been relegated to the Star Lounge despite having a proper Business Class ticket?

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?

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?

 

Singapore Airlines Business Class SIN-BKK SQ 972

I was excited about this flight. Probably the most excited flight of the trip.  It would be the only flight in this trek where I would be experiencing a new airline. I had flown EVA and Austrian before and of course have heard amazing things about Singapore from so many friends. Singapore SQ 972 is a short, 2.5 hour flight from Changi to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport but would give me a taste of the world class service offered by Singapore’s flag carrier.

My ride from Singapore to Bangkok - SQ 972 - Airbus 330-300

My ride from Singapore to Bangkok – SQ 972 – Airbus 330-300

Changi International Airport - F Concourse

The less than glamorous terminal at Changi International Airport

We boarded about 45 minutes before scheduled departure. When I arrived at the boarding area, there were already at least 200 people waiting.  Plus probably 20 children running around, Lord of the Flies style.  Like my last flight, there were a couple of people already lined up in the Business Class queue, despite near constant announcements to remain seated.

Very full boarding area at Changi International Airport

Gate F31 was packed – and this was just half of the room.

Changi is unique in that each gate area has its own separate security screenings – you don’t get screened until you enter your specific gate area. Passports and boarding passes were checked four different times from the point I got to the gate until in was seated in 14F. The Business Class of this A330-300 consists of five rows of six seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. I chose the middle section so I could have direct aisle access and not worry about someone crawling over me.

Changi Airport Security Checkpoint

Gate Specific Security – F31 Changi International Airport

Boarding

Upon boarding, I presented my boarding pass and was escorted to my seat. Daisy, the flight attendant, helped me put my bag in the overhead bin. Then properly welcomed me aboard, telling me of the flight time to Bangkok and letting me know that I wouldn’t have a seat mate. Score!

Before I sat down, I start snapping photos of the empty cabin and one of Daisy’s colleagues came up with a tray of beverages. His tray included orange juice, apple juice, sparkling and still water and champagne. He asks if I’d like a drink, “perhaps some refreshing bubbles?” How did he know? Yes please.

A330-300 Business Class Seats

Seat 12F taken from my seat. Not industry leading any more, but still wonderful.

Singapore Airlines SQ 972 Business Class to Bangkok

Singapore Airlines SQ 972 Business Class to Bangkok

Singapore AIrlines Business Class Seating

Seat 14D & 14F on Singapore Airlines A300-300

Singapore AIrlines Business Class Seating

Seat 14D & 14F on Singapore Airlines A300-300

The Flight

On board we were served the same champagne that was on offer in the KrisFlyer Business Class Lounge, which was a perfectly nice option. After champagne, he quickly returned with a warm, moist towel. I love these refreshing little treats. This flight wasn’t as empty as the EVA flight to Singapore, but it wasn’t full – 23 of the 30 seats were occupied.

This plane is an older model, but does have seats that lie fully flat. There is ample storage and several charging options including a UK/Singapore/US Outlet plus two USB ports.

The chargers on Singapore Airlines A330-300

The multiple charges on the A330-300

Boarding was quite quick as well. The last passengers boarded and we still had about 25 minutes until departure. I perused the in-flight entertainment selection, which was perfectly fine for our short hop to Thailand.

In-Flight Entertainment and In-Flight Selfie Reflection

In-Flight Entertainment and In-Flight Selfie Reflection

A short taxi and roll to take off found us airborne right on schedule. Just as we crossed 10,000 feet the flight crew sprung into action. Taking drink orders and distributing another warm moist towel. This morning flight served a selection of western and Chinese breakfast food.

Singapore Airlines Business Class Menu

Singapore Airlines Business Class Menu

Champagne and Brunch Menu

Champagne and Brunch Menu

You all know by now that I’m not big on breakfast, so I chose the Thai Pineapple Fried Rice option. It was surprisingly great.

Thai Pineapple Fried Rice with Chicken and Prawn

Thai Pineapple Fried Rice with Chicken and Prawn

The elaborate tea menu. My favorite is the Vanilla Bourbon Tea.

The elaborate tea menu. My favorite is the Vanilla Bourbon Tea.

The Vanilla Bourbon Tea. My absolute favorite flavor. Thank you TWG Tea!

The Vanilla Bourbon Tea. My absolute favorite flavor. Thank you TWG Tea!

After breakfast, I converted the seat into a bed and rested. I wasn’t ready for sleep, but I wanted to try the seat out. I watched reruns of Big Bang Theory, which always puts me to sleep on a plane.

Before I knew it, Daisy offered me another glass of champagne as the crew began final preparations for landing. A nice surprise.

We landed in Bangkok at 10h48. We deplaned through door 2L and the flight crew held the deplaning economy passengers while Business Class left. This practice is so elitist, but I do love it, don’t you?

Final Thoughts

The flight was very lovely. My biggest complaint was the length. The flight was just too short to really enjoy all the amenities. Two and a half hours isn’t enough.

Have you flown Singapore Airlines Business Class on a short regional route before? What was your favorite part? What is your favorite Asian Airline for short regional trips?