Austrian Airlines A320 BusinessBack to Forum
Anonymous27 Jan 2014
OS452 LHR – VIE
This relates to a trip back in December 2013 which at the time I believed was to be my last business trip of the year.
The car picked me up from home at 06.30 for a 09.05 departure to Vienna, on the way to LHR we picked up my PA who speaks German like a native and is invaluable when doing business there. We arrived at LHR at 07.20 both with mobile boarding passes for the outbound flight but we paused at one of the desks to collect those for the return flight later in the day. I always tend to do that on a day trip in case my phone dies under heavy use. The lady at the desk was charming and good humoured and she issued the two boarding passes with a smile and asked if she could come with us to go to a Christmas market in Vienna, we told her she could if she could issue herself with another boarding pass, we all had a laugh and we went on our way to security.
The fast track lane was quiet with only a couple with two small children in front of us. For whatever reason the goons were giving them a hard time and the children were both crying and one goon was shouting at them. I placed my items on the belt separating out laptop, phone and almost anything else that might cause concern, a goon came across and told me I didn’t need to take all these items out of my bag, I greeted her with ‘good morning’ and she just looked at the ceiling and I pushed my items through the x-ray machine. I passed through the scanner which did not go off and my PA had the same good fortune. After re-packing our bags we made our way to the lounge.
The Star Alliance Lounge in T1 is adequate, when *A took it over I didn’t like it at all, it’s not a good space with little natural day light and I thought if anything they had made it worse since they took it from BA. It has grown on me over time and at least it’s always clean and tidy. The breakfast offering was comprehensive, you could easily assemble a full cooked English if you wanted one and there was a good choice of juices, cereals, fruit and continental items too along with coffee and a choice of teas. Considering that although this is a Star Alliance Gold Lounge it is also pitched for Business Class so the offering is above average. Dishes were replenished promptly and the food looked always to be fresh and quite appealing. I chose from the continental selection with some dried ham and cheese together with a sesame seeded roll accompanied by a coffee and some orange juice both of which were fine. There was also a reasonable choice of fruit to take away if you wanted it.
There was also a good selection of newspapers and magazines, there are computers with internet access or alternatively there is Wi-Fi in the lounge. By the time we had breakfast and discussed our strategy for the meeting in Vienna the gate was open, it was one of the gates at gate five which is a long walk from the lounge so we set off in plenty of time. On arrival there most passengers were already assembled and boarding was about to commence.
Boarding was called for business class and star alliance gold card holders but it was not well controlled and a crowd surged forward. Fortunately we were near the front and made our way down the jetty and aboard. We were welcomed by the purser who looked like he couldn’t have cared less and as is often the case that rather typified his service during the flight. Without any problems we settled in to 2 A&C and stowed our bags in the overhead which I then as is my habit closed to preserve space for passengers in C who might board later and to stop passengers in Y filling up the locker.
Boarding seemed to take an age and in the end there were 15 in C and Y was full so we left with one empty seat. During boarding as Austrian always do we listened to the Vienna Waltz and other similarly iconic Austrian music. Finally the boarding completed announcement was made and a few moments later the door was closed and we pushed back for a taxi to 27R just on 09.05. The seats are the usual LH group NEK seats with red trim rather than the yellow on LH but that’s where the difference ends, the middle seat is free in C. The legroom is fine but the seats are uncomfortable after about ninety minutes.
The safety video was played, although I always watch these carefully I found it difficult to engage with the Austrian one in fact I found it easier to watch the German version where I had to concentrate on the words than the English one. The video over there were a few words from the Captain about the routing and also that we may have a significant hold on approach to Vienna due to heavy fog that was expected to last for most of the day and it had been causing problems.
After a brief hold for 27R we entered the runway, a smooth take-off followed and a turn to the left down towards the coast at Dover. The routing took us over Brussels, Frankfurt, Nuremburg, Passau, Linz and on to Vienna and the flying time was estimated to be two hours and twenty five minutes.
The crew began service and I was again struck by the startling all red appearance of the Austrian female crew uniform which is all scarlet including the tights. It is just a bit much and rather jarring. The male crew get away with a scarlet jacket and the rest is more conventional. A breakfast service was offered which included juice, a fruit plate, a cheese plate and a hot dish which was scrambled eggs with tomatoes and ham. All Austrian catering is by Do&Co and the standard is very high. When offered the eggs were slightly overcooked but the rest was tasty. The purser who was serving in C was perhaps waiting for retirement, I hope for the sake of future passengers he gets it earlier rather than later. The other crew members seemed more enthusiastic on the occasions they appeared to lend a hand. I also think Austrian deserve special mention for having what I think must be the smallest coffee cups of any airline, they must hold about 120mls and while Austrians make a great deal about having good coffee, the quantities in which it is served on board would leave you wondering as there is barely enough to taste it. Second cups weren’t offered and I didn’t ask. The trays were removed quickly and the purer then disappeared for the remainder of the flight.
We did some more work and time passed and finally we felt descent start somewhere over Linz. The seatbelt sign came on and at the same time the pilot announced that we were likely to encounter a delay of up to thirty minutes in the approach to Vienna due to the fog which was not clearing. The purser reappeared to check the security of the cabin and draw back the curtains on the divider and then disappeared again.
The delay in approach was twenty five minutes and the descent was into a very thick fog and we in the end felt the landing which was smooth rather than saw the airport. A long taxi took us to a remote stand where steps and buses were waiting. Austrian operate very much as a hub at Vienna with lots of connections to Eastern Europe and beyond meaning that at certain times of the day the airport is very busy. The new pier was surrounded with Star Alliance aircraft and I believe they have exclusive use of it. A separate bus was not provided for Business Class which I think is a basic requirement these days. The wait for the first one to fill was long and the drive to the drop off point was also long though once there we were through immigration in minutes and out and in our waiting car within a further five minutes.
Austrian service on short haul services in Europe is not really any different to any other legacy carrier, the service operated on time with the exception of the delay on approach to Vienna for which they could not be held accountable. The NEK seats are a reality of life, AF & BA offer something a little better but for how long? They are not suitable for C but the advantage of a little extra space remains which is something I am willing to pay for. The lack of a business class bus when parking on a remote stand was poor as was the purser. The food was above average and well-presented if a little over cooked. The Star Alliance lounge at LHR is a little better than the average business class lounge, it will be interesting to see what happens when T2 opens as I understand that many of the airlines are having their own lounges in particular the LH group and SIA (no surprises with the latter!).27 Jan 2014