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    Ciprian Hirlea
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    LHR – VIE – SKP – VIE – LHR Business A320/Fokker 100

    I hadn't flown Austrian in a while, but was pleasantly surprised by these 4 shorthaul flights in business. Departure was on one of the last few days at the old Terminal 1 from LHR, which was generally empty as most airlines seem to have migrated to T2. The Star lounge was adequate; good magazine selection (take note, BA!) and a reasonable selection of food options. Boarding went smoothly as priority passengers were actually given priority.

    Seating on the A320s is in the new slimline seats used by most carriers, with no difference between economy and business other than the middle seat being free and having a tray. I would definitely go for row 1 if it is free. It wasn't on my flight, and I squeezed into the 30 in pitch. You have just enough room to move about so long as the person in front does not recline your seat. I also tried hanging my ipad from the seat in front. Fine for viewing videos, again so long as the seat in front does not recline. The problem, well documented, is that while the knees may have a bit more space, the seat back in front is practically in your nose in the inclined position, leaving you not much space between your eyes and the ipad. Austrian still has hanging video screens, which can provide a nice distraction, showing ads or short comedy skits.

    I find Austrian service slightly more personal than that of their German comrades. The food on all four flights consisted of a small warm dish, small salad and small dessert. About right for the length of flights. Some might find the Austrian food stodgy, but I really enjoyed the prawns in tomatoes and rice, or the meatballs, which I had twice; once in each direction. The Sekt is pretty poor, though the Austrian white I tried was very fine.

    In both directions I had a lengthy layover in Vienna. I am not a fan of the new terminal design wise. Certainly there is a lot more space, but the black and white layout leaves me cold. And if you arrive at one end, you have a healthy walk to the exit or lounge. I have only used the non-Schengen Senator lounge, but here I feel that Austrian really missed something when they had the chance to design a new lounge from scratch. The biggest problem is that they use hard wood floors throughout, and thus noise carries throughout the actually rather small lounge. You can hear every phone conversation, every glass being filled with ice and every chair being scraped. If you happen to be there during one of the waves of flights that arrive/depart, you can find it anything but peaceful. I don't know if the business or HON lounges are any different, but it is not particularly pleasant if you have to spend 3+ hours there, as I did both directions. There are no English language newspapers or magazines, although plenty in German. Wi-Fi was good, though. Food choices depended on the time of day. If you happen to be there between lunch and dinner, you basically have cakes and sweets available, with some cold salads and a quite delicious soup. Once the evening meal time approaches, there was a tasty chicken curry as well.

    Boarding in Vienna is quick and orderly, and again with priority given. I know that Vienna allows short connection times; it actually could work quite well if you are going non-Schengen to non-Schengen on Star, as you will arrive and depart from the new pier and just go up and quickly through security.

    The Fokkers are a bit more careworn, but as seating is 2-3, if you are in business, you have the option to choose the 2 side (A-C), which means you have the row to yourself as Austrian always leaves the other seat free in rows of 2 in business (take note again, BA!). Interestingly, while the aircraft has certainly seen better days, the seating is no less comfortable than the new slimline seats in the 320, and there is certainly more pitch in business, meaning actually a lot more room. I'd definitely take the Fokker over the new 320, if given the choice.

    All my flights were on time. Arrivals and departure in Skopje are a breeze; a new, functional terminal that has you in and out in 5-10 minutes, although I had a lengthy wait for passport control on leaving.

    No complaints from me; these were perfectly fine shorthaul flights. The only negatives are the seating, which is the same on most European carriers these days, and the Vienna lounge accoustics. I've yet to try Austrian long haul, but I could imagine it being a pleasant experience.

    Flydrive

    Review courtesy of Seatplans.com. Original review by user 140070 can be found here

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